We took the day off from our renovation projects (hopefully we’ll be through most of it by next week) to drive up to Mojave for the experimental fly-in (the “Plane Crazy” event held on the third Saturday of each month). It was beautiful weather, and a lot of interesting aircraft on display, including a Yak that someone had restored, and an old Chinese trainer based out of Santa Monica. After lunch with Doug and Ann Jones at the Voyager Cafe, we headed up to Tehachapi, because Patricia had never been on 58 between Mojave and Bakersfield. It was still pretty green up there from the winter rains.
I’ve driven by the sign for the Tehachapi Loop many times, but had never actually seen it. Neither had she, though she’s in the rail business. We actually took the old road from Tehachapi to Keene, and it was tightly winding and gorgeous. About three miles from the end, we found the overlook and marker for the loop. We didn’t see a train go through, but it turned out that if we’d waited a few minutes, we would have.
We had originally planned on going back from Mojave through Lancaster and over to the Poppy Preserve, to catch the tail end of the spring flower bloom. But since we were now quite a ways west, per Doug’s lunchtime suggestion, we continued west on 58 to 223, then down the hill to Arvin, where he said it had been very good. Unfortunately, though, we were too late. The mountain above us was still green from the rains, but the flowers were pretty much done along that route.
So we got to the 99, and headed back south to LA on the 5, but then cut back east over 138 to Lancaster, and took a road south to Lancaster Road, which goes right past the preserve. We saw quite a few poppies still in bloom approaching and departing the preserve, but a lot of the other flowers had faded, but there are a lot of cars parked along the road and in the (paid) preserve parking lot. It was about 4:30, and somewhat windy, so the poppies were mostly closed, though it was still sunny.
Rather than fight the crowds or pay, we decided to just head back to LA, via a new route. Normally, we go south to Elizabeth Lake, then out to Castaic via Lake Hughes Road, which is a beautiful drive, with great views of Lake Hughes and the Valencia/Santa Clarita area from above. But this time, we made a left on Elizabeth Lake road, and went down San Francisquito Canyon, then down Spunky Canyon, then Bouquet Canyon, and finally down Vasquez Canyon to Sierra Highway, all roads (other than the latter) we’d never been on before, and all beautiful, with many spectacular views, including a nicely full reservoir.
I never fail to be amazed at how much California there is to be explored, and this was an area that I’ve driven around for decades, but never through, and it’s right in our back yard.