Nature – Our Neighbor

It was a place that was blooming with flowers; a place that I had constantly seen pictures of on Instagram. A place prominent for its orange color and orange fields. It was known for the fact many came to the location only for the photos, to say the least. It was the place that had the California state flower – the California poppies. That weekend my family and I headed to Lancaster, to see the acclaimed California poppies that bloom during the Spring time.

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When we told our dad, that we were going to go on a hike, to the California poppies at the Antelope Valley, California Poppy Reserve, he got excited about the idea and planned on bringing with him, his lawn chair and saxophone. My sisters and I thought that he wasn’t understanding that the place was a field of flowers and not your typical park. My dad was like a little kid who had a hard time comprehending something. He thought that we were joking even though we showed him pictures, and decided to bring his saxophone and lawn chair nonetheless. So with that, we embarked on the 210 W heading towards Lancaster. Car rides are great not only for getting to know the people that you’re with but also jamming out to your favorite tunes. We found ourselves doing the latter, and jammed out to Bruno Mars, Bethel and Adele. On the other hand, my older sister chose that time to take her beauty sleep and nap the whole drive there. The route that we took was very similar to the drive to The Master’s University (which is the school that I go to); sadly, to say I found myself not paying attention to my surroundings on the drive because it had become familiar.

From the 210 W, my dad merged onto the I-5 North toward Sacramento. Six miles later he took exit 170, and from there we took the streets making lefts and right turns. Taking a right on Copper Hill Drive, we descended on a very narrow path that consisted of slight turns and zig- zagged roads that reminded me of a trip that we once took to Yosemite National Park. Turning right yet again we got on San Francisquito Canyon Road for 13 miles. I asked my dad if driving narrow highways was difficult, and he stated that it gets easier with time. Embarking on this 13-mile drive, I noticed that there were countless of ranches as we drove, and repeatedly my dad pointed them out. We passed by a ranch where they were giving horseback riding lessons, which reminded me of the movies of horses that I saw growing up. There was a change in scenery as my eyes saw a ranch after another, which made me appreciative of being away from the city life. (As I’m normally bombarded by the LA city life and smog). It was nice to be in a place where seeing the azure skies were evident and a puffy Toy Story cloud was in sight. Driving this narrow road, reminded me that sometimes getting out of the city is worth it, even if it’s just for a few hours. As we drove, we saw signs that warned us that deer could be present and could cross at any moment. Moreover, signs warned there was a high percentage of a fire occurring.

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It’s interesting to note, that the hot weather has the potential of drying out the poppies and the weekend we were visiting happened to be the hottest day for the poppies. However, with the possible chance of rain occurring next week, they have a chance of thriving till the end of April.

I noticed as we drove along the highway, there were several tombstones in sight. Tombstones that were commemorating person’s loved one. One tombstone, in particular, stated, “for a dear loving brother” and had several flowers around it, with a cross perched on top. In addition, we passed by a quaint little village, something straight out of a Hallmark movie and beheld a little store called “Heart and Soul”.

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From there we made a left on Elizabeth Lake, where we were greeted by a sign that stated “Welcome! Where nature is your neighbor.” As we made a turn my older sister pointed out, there were several cows on that farm. We saw a long line of cars and realized that we had reached our destination as our eyes surveyed the fields of orange poppies that welcomed us.

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Once we found a parking space, my sisters and I got out of the car, only to realize thereafter, that our dad was up ahead, with determination smeared across his face. I knew that going uphill, to get to the poppy reserve was going to be a bit of a challenge for me. I found myself laughing at my struggle, mainly because a grandma nearby was looking at my sister and I as we struggled along. The grandma reassured us that going downhill gets easier. Upon this, our older sister had to help us, and we made our ascent up the hill and onto the field of poppies. Once I stuck my landing, my eyes beheld the view in front of me. No longer was I surrounded by cars and the business of city life, but instead my eyes observed a view of orange fields and azure skies, where time seemed to have lost its hold on me.

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Everywhere I looked, I saw people posing in front of the poppy fields with a camera or phone in hand, in hopes of getting “the perfect Instagram picture.” After all, that is why many people came to the reserve. I saw people of different ethnicities present within those fields and various accents were evident. People that had an Indian, British and Scottish accent. There were families present, couples and even dog owners, who brought their dogs. Two pugs walked by us, and my sisters gushed over the state of the pug–chubby, wrinkly, but cute. My sister Cassandra came with her camera, prepared to snap away like the paparazzi at my older sister and I, as our dad, ventured the fields on his own. My sister and I found ourselves sitting in the dirt, taking pictures with the poppies.

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As we frolicked through the fields of poppy’s we subsequently found ourselves walking through a path of dirt, taking in the view of the orange flowers before us. As we walked, we were constantly being swarmed by bugs. My dad who was wearing white, had a copious amount of critters landing on his white polo shirt. As we walked along a path, we heard a snapping sound and wondered where that was coming from. Only to realize after, that it came from a bug. As we trotted along, we saw holes on the ground and remembered that we had read online, that rattlesnakes could be present.

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After 45 minutes of being in the poppy fields, exhaustion showed up and decided it was time to recharge our batteries. Thus, we decided it was time to go. With that, we followed a family in front of us and thought that they could get us back to the long line of cars parked along the aisle. As we headed back, we stopped for one more picture when a guy who was walking, claimed that he could take a picture of us; my dad kindly declined. At that moment I didn’t understand why until my dad said that you can’t always trust people no matter how kind they look. We eventually made it back to civilization, after the tread. As we drove back, I grasped that even though we were at the poppy fields for 45 minutes, time had lost a hold of us, and all my worries and problems had vanished for a second. I forgot that I had to write papers for school, and study for an exam that was coming up. My time in the poppy fields was one where I truly found rest. I felt at peace there and like the sign that greeted us on our drive “where nature is your neighbor” felt like home. The poppies welcomed me and told me to venture out for a bit, to leave my cares, and find rest in them.

What to Know:

The location is only a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. Though Los Angeles is notoriously known for its traffic, leaving at an early time is recommended. Weather forecast can be unpredictable, as it can be scorching hot one day and cold the next, so it’s always advised to check the weather channel before planning a trip to Lancaster. It can get very windy, and often times its recommended to bring water as the location is located on a disguised desert resort.  People are advised not to pick at the wildflowers and dogs are NOT allowed. On the fields, one may encounter rattlesnakes, so be careful. Rattlesnakes are not threatening, but they do rattle their tails, to warn bystanders of their presence. However, if you do happen to encounter a rattlesnake, simply let the snake go, and it will move out of your way.

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