The official State Flower of California is the California Poppy. This year, the Lancaster Poppy Festival was April 19th, which offered a perfect opportunity to hop in the convertible for an invigorating drive. Heading out early in the morning, the marine layer thick, my friend and I were off to poppy heaven in what was promising to be a sunny day.
The drive up was smooth, if a little chilly. The marine layer hung around almost to the desert, leaving us just the last 40 miles to bask in the sunshine.
Arriving in Lancaster 90 minutes after we started, we followed the road signs for Poppy Festival parking. With a short hike, we were in the festival. There were arts, crafts, and food galore, but they seemed to be in short supply of poppies! There were three stages of entertainment, a playground for the kids but only a few poppy plants scattered throughout the park.
We spent a couple of hours looking through all the arts and crafts. Unlike most fairs I have been to in the region, this fair had some talented artisans and craftspeople. While there were some “crafts” that were obviously mass-produced, many of the booths had handmade or hand crafted wares. I didn’t buy any of these finely crafted products, because I always feel that I could make any of them myself!
Finding the booth sponsored by the California Parks department, we stopped to ask where the fields of poppies were. Back to the highway, two exits north, then head west to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. According to the Park Volunteer, it was a glorious year. Better than she had seen it in several years, and I had to agree!
We had gone two or three years ago, for the first time, and I thought that year was spectacular. This year, the amount of flowers was much greater! There were acres upon acres of flowers, for as far as I could see. The orange color along the small valley of the reserve seemed endless. It is hard to take nice pictures because you’re not supposed to step off the trails; one, because the plants and ecosystem are so fragile, and two, because of the rattle snakes.
The pictures I took do not do the flowers justice! It was also very blustery in the desert, with wind gusts in the 40’s. I could not get the flowers to stand still for a portrait. In another peculiar habit of the flower, they wrap up when the wind blows, so finding a flower wide open was tricky. We hiked up to one of the lower vista points looked out over the reserve with its carpet of poppy gold, then hurried back to the protection of the car!
The rest of my photos are on flickr.