A few weeks ago, we tried our luck on the Santa Margarita Lake route again.
Although, our real focus was on catching the spectacular fields of wildflowers that everyone, including the newspapers, keep bringing up as a 'Must Do' for any Spring drive, we really were interested in seeing what the lake had to offer, or more specifically, whether or not there were any boat rentals since, of late we've been conjuring romatic fantasies of cruising around a lake in a boat with fishing poles and a picnic basket. I say romatic fantansies because I have very vivid memories of doing the very same thing with my father in my girlhood and if my memories serve me correctly, those trips were often boring and laborious and resulted in many a reprimand from my father. Not to digress yet again, but since then I have had the pleasure of taking to the ocean for some deep sea fishing and I found that most exciting, particularly because I'm not one to get sea sick and I like to pick out the people who I think may succumb early on and hedge my bets as the day goes on--oh, and I love the very strange and mythical fish that call the ocean their home and the prospect of somehow, some way catching some magnificent beast.
Anyhow, back to our venture. This time Ken and I managed to decipher the sign and head in the right direction where we eventually, after a very long drive down a very desolate road, found Santa Margarita where upon paying our $8 fee and admittance to the park, immediately sought out a spot to open our picnic lunch. Perhaps it's the fresh air and beguiling landscapes of nature that whet one's appetite and render the most ordinary tasting foods a sensation to both visual and gustatory palate, but our chicken sandwiches, broken chips and fresh quartered orange were delectable.
After lunching, we decided to follow along a walking trail. Within the first 20 feet, I spied these massive pine cones and made note to retrieve them on the way to the car. Sure, Christmas is 8 months away, but can one ever begin preparations too early? As we wandered along, we discovered two trailheads that meandered above and around the lake, which, by the way, we had read about in one of our hiking books. However, this was not the day that we aspired to take a long hike and instead was just a planned distraction, a get-a-way and picnic lunch on a random Sunday afternoon and the viewing of the legendary wildflowers that kept luring us down the backroads. We decided to head home--we had seen the Lake--finally.
On the way back, we passed a hand-scribbled sign nailed to a post that announced a "Plant Sale" and while the legitimacy of this looked vague at best, we are true adventurers and decided to roll the dice and make the left turn. Fifty feet down the road a sign loomed up from the overgrown ditch, just below the equally wild Oak--"Next Services 88 Miles"--so I checked my gauge and the speedometer and headed over the hills and into the unknown distance. This was virgin territory to me and while there were ranches sprinkled here and there, it was hard for me to imagine how anyone could live so remotely. I also wondered what this "Plant Sale" would be and actually envisioned some poor unemployed sap who had a small wagon of fresh seedlings stuck in peat just trying to make a buck any way one could.
After a while we saw another sign saying the 'plant sale' was now just two miles away and finally, we found a make-shift sign with a hand drawn arrow as crooked as all get out and made our way down an even more remote and bumpy road. Our first stab at the location took us down another road and then finally, realizing our mistake, we turned the car around and poked down the only direction we figured would offer any resolution and BINGO--we had found a virtual oasis of not only plants, but a quaint farm cottage and a working farm stand. In the distance there were rows of peach and pear and apple trees in full bloom, magnificent artichoke plants with their pointy sharp leaves pointing skyward, and deep within the protection of a deer fence, rows upon rows of vegetables or which the ripened and picked were lined up for sale adjacent to the plants.
There were seedlings and full grown plants to select from and prior to getting out of the car for some random nursery shopping, Ken and I pooled our money together and came up with $15--whoo, our spring vegetable garden shopping was about to begin in earnest. The picture I posted here is my bounty of the day--10 heirloom tomato plants, a honeydew and a cantaloupe (sadly, these only survived two weeks before the lizards ate them to the ground) and a massive 1 gallon pot of Greek Oregeno that is happily living next to my lilac bush and that has grown twice its size.
I am in love with heirloom tomatoes and at $1 a piece, I went a little wild. Year after year, I always say that I need to plant fewer tomatoes, but every year without fail, I plant the same 14-16 plants, and while I did add to the 10 I purchased at the plant sale, I only picked up 4 more--my favorites--Mr. Stripey, Yellow Brandywine, Green Zebra, and Black Krim--and believe me, I could have easily gotten an additional 10.
So there we were on another random adventure with a few wrong turns and a bag of sandwiches. We never did find the wildflowers that everyone raved on and on over, but there would be more attempts and more disappointments on that one, but those are other posts to be written on another day.