Right before heading down on this trip I started hearing about these epic poppy blooms and being a color junkie I ended up juggling my plans around to get to see this bloom in person.
I thought I’d meet up with my friend Wade Koniakowsky and go paint this place with him. Neither of us quite anticipated the madness of humanity here. Getting off the freeway to orange cones and sirens and traffic cops I knew this might be a little hectic. Deep breaths, and in moment of clarity I didn’t even try to park close, I just turned the other way and drove down the road until I was out of the madness and parked on the empty shoulder to wait for Wade.
But he was taking forever and I was impatient so I walked the mile up to the trailhead to check things out. I found two food trucks and an ice cream truck and mass confusion everywhere. The ice cream truck man seemed unhappy, which really bummed me out because ice cream is the opposite of unhappy. The mass confusion on the other hand seemed thrilled to be there.
I found a couple of other painters and chatted while waiting for Wade, who finally arrived and parked by my van, so I walked the mile back to meet him, let him borrow a pack to haul his paint gear and together we walked back under the freeway, past the traffic cops, into the mass confusion, past the ice cream truck and joined the procession of souls seeking the color orange.
Not too far in, and we found this bend in the trail and it seemed suitable to both of us, so we set up and basically chatted with strangers non stop for the next two hours while we painted.
All worth it. I don’t care how cynical and jaded we can get after seeing nonstop images of these blooms and hearing how overrun with people it can get. Sure, people can be a bummer, but I didn’t go here to see them, or even to get away from them. I came here for the color orange, in an intensity that nature rarely produces. Overwhelming. And wonderful. And never disappointing.