I have this fantasy. I am running through a field of golden poppies. No shoes. Just soft velvety flowers underneath my feet. The skirt of my dress dancing in the breeze. The sun hitting my face and the wind tossing my hair in every direction.
Reality check. Running barefoot in a field is not pleasant. There are rocks. And snakes. And last I checked, stepping on a California poppy is a punishable offense.
So when I heard about the golden poppy fields of Lancaster, I decided that observing the poppies from a distance would be my safest option. I asked my friend Alia if she would like to join me. She accepted and suggested we bring bicycles and hula-hoops. Alia is one of the few people I know who owns a travel hula-hoop. That’s just one of the reasons she is so awesome.
The morning of our adventure, Alia invited me over for breakfast. She prepared mouth-watering Lemon Blueberry Ricotta pancakes. Pancakes appear to be the precursor to some of my best adventures.
After breakfast, we got on the road. Alia set her iPhone to announce traffic updates as we were driving. I had to interrupt our conversation when I heard a warning for tornado-like winds in Lancaster. I must have been hearing things, right?! Tornadoes don’t happen in Southern California! Besides, I had left my ruby red slippers and my dog Toto at home.
When we got to the Poppy Reserve, we both looked around. Something wasn’t right. Finally, I asked the question that was on both of our minds, “Where are all the poppies?!” We pulled up to the parking booth. As I rolled down my window, a powerful gust of wind rushed into the car. The park ranger told us that the poppies had closed up because of the wind, and we were out of luck.
Despite tornado-like winds and sleeping poppies, we decided to unload our hula-hoops and hike to a nearby peak to enjoy the view and take some photos.
We must have looked like we were up to no good because a volunteer came to make sure we weren’t rolling our hula-hoops on the poppies. Once we convinced her that we were decent people who didn’t trample sleeping poppies, she left us alone. As she walked away, I couldn’t help but notice how her poppy gold vest stood out against the dusty landscape. I imagine she would look pretty insignificant on a day when all the poppies were in bloom.
On the way home, we stopped at an antique store on the side of the road. The gusty wind rattled the sides of the tin building as we rummaged through rusted cast iron pots, mismatched dishes and moth-eaten coats.
In the end, we probably spent more time looking for buried treasure than we did hiking the poppy trail. Lately, none of my adventures have turned out according to plan, but those adventures make the best stories. My grandfather used to say, “If you can’t tell a good story, what’s the point?” I happen to agree with him.