Carrizo Plain - March 2016
March 21-24, 2016. California Coast Range. A car-camping excursion to the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This piece of California's Great Valley floristic province -- actually a higher valley separated from southwest corner of the Great Valley by the Temblor Range -- is less changed over the last two centuries than most others. It's too remote and dry for good farming and too alkaline to allow non-native grasses to flourish. It retains some of this:
The valley of the San Joaquin is the floweriest piece of world I ever walked, one vast level, even flower-bed, a sheet of flowers, a smooth sea ... Here they are not sprinkled apart with grass between, as in our prairies, but grasses are sprinkled in the flowers. ...... (John Muir, letter to Mrs. Carr, July 1868)
I drove down on the 21st via a round-about route to see some extra sights: the little town of Parkfield and Shell Creek Road between Shandon and SR 53 which I'd read was another wildflower spot. The 22nd and 23rd were devoted to touring the Carrizo Plain itself and the adjacent hills, the Temblor Range to the east and the Caliente Mountains to the west. Home on the 24th.