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Sunday, March 16, 2003


Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Some weekends you just need to "get the heck out of Dodge", so today we did just that. We headed North on the 405 to the 14 and off to the Antelope Valley. After yesterday's rain the sky was crisp and clear, yet the temperature was just right. It took us about an hour to reach the Reserve, which is located about 13 miles west of Lancaster. Joe and I had visited the reserve a few years ago, but Rosanne had not. That year the poppy bloom (and other wildflowers) was very low, due to a lack of rain. The recent precipitation we have had this year, though, has helped the bloom along. The poppy blooms aren't as prolific as the major bloom a few years ago, but there is still plenty to see. Along with the state flower, there are Coreopsis, lupine and a host of others.

The reserve is always a blustery place to be and today was no exception. The wind was blowing quite strongly but it wasn't too cold, thank goodness. We all returned from our 1.5 mile hike around the visitor's center looking like we had been in a wind tunnel. The winds can leave the poppies looking quite battered and also causes them to remain tightly furled. Even so, we found many a sheltered area along the path where the poppies were totally open in the warming sunshine.

Towards the end of our walk, Joe met a very nice 5-year-old girl, named Lena, and they spent the time racing down the path ahead of the grownups. They also wandered through the small visitor's center, enjoying the diorama of the native fauna and Photo CD player showing examples of all the flowers that can be found in the park. Joe was having quite a good time and after we said our goodbye's and were driving down the entrance road he said he would like to have Lena over for a play date. Rosanne explained how we hadn't gotten the family's phone number, but Joe quickly decided that he would simply call every number in the phone book until he found them. Then it was off to lunch.

Admission to the Poppy Reserve is $4/vehicle.

Visitor's Center Open

Weekends 9-5

Weekdays 9-4

You can visit these links to more information about the park. Clicking on the title link above, or the photo, will take you to a gallery of photos.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve Web Site

Antelope Valley Poppy Page

Crazy Otto's Diner

Every good road trip deserves a hearty lunch and whenever we are out "adventuring", we like to try out the local establishments. Passing an IHOP and a Denny's we came across Crazy Otto's. Then it got weird!

The hostess led us to our table and we settled in. As Rosanne and I started looking through our menus, Joe suddenly said, " Hi, friend." Sure enough, at the very next table was the family we met earlier at the Poppy Reserve. They had sought out a local place to eat and we just happened to meet up again. After such a fortuitous meeting we accepted fate, chatted a bit while the kids played and exchanged business cards. You have to figure that life is trying to tell you something with a coincidence this big!

The restaurant had all the charm expected in a local eatery and the wait staff was First Class. The portions are HUGE! I ordered a breakfast (Otto's was voted best breakfast in the Valley 11 years running) and it came on a platter. Sausage patty the size of a dinner plate, hash browns, 2 eggs, and biscuits and gravy. I ended up having the leftovers for dinner. If you can drag yourself out of bed earlier than I can, I would recommend hitting Otto's for breakfast before visiting the Reserve. This should fortify anyone for the 1-3 mile hikes you can try at the park.

Crazy Otto's is a mile or so East of 14 Freeway at the same exit (Avenue I) that you use to visit the Poppy Reserve -- and old-fashioned enough not to have a website.



(661) 940-9177

Antelope Valley Indian Museum

Since we were in the neighborhood (loosely speaking), we decided to hit another attraction I have been meaning to visit for years, The Antelope Valley Indian Museum. The museum had originally been a family home in the late 20's. The owner, H. Arden Edwards, was fascinated with all things Native American and amassed an amazing collection of artifacts on all facets of Indian life. The home is built directly on top of the natural boulders on the site and the rocks protrude into the house and make up large portions of the walls and floors. Edwards later built the California Room, carving a staircase directly out of the boulders, to store and show his growing collections.

A new owner, Grace Wilcox Oliver, arrived in the 30's and added her own large collection to that built by Edwards. She turned the home into a full-time museum and offered tours. Finally, in 1978, the property and the entire collection was deeded to the California State Park Service and was opened to the public again in 1982.

The museum also has a "touch room", where kids can try their hands at grinding corn and using native tools, a picnic area and a nature trail to round out your visit. We only had about an hour and fifteen minutes to see the museum, but that provided us a good overview. Allow 2-3 hours if you want to fully explore all the displays and have a picnic lunch.

Click on the picture to visit a small gallery of images from our visit.

Open to the public on weekends

The Antelope Valley Indian Museum is open on weekends from 11am to 4pm from the middle of September through the middle of June.

The museum is closed through the summer months.

The museum fee is $2.00 for adults and children 16 and under are FREE.

See Web Site for directions.

GPS Route

For those among you who really want to "geek out," here is a picture (WARNING -- 700K+) showing today's route laid over satellite images.

We had a great time on today's trip and highly recommend you visit the Antelope Valley before the summer heat gets here. It can be quite refreshing to get out of the "big city" for a while and enjoy the wide, open spaces that are only an hour or so away.


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