Last weekend, Howard Dunaier and I drove down to the Carrizo Plain to see the wildflowers – they were stunning – but, really, it was just a trip to get outside. I am a In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World guy and the trick is just to get out. As somebody once said, To go to the blank places on the map.
And the Carrizo Plain is one of those places. It is a place that very few of us Californians have heard of, but we have all seen pictures of it in articles on the San Andreas Fault. (A big deal here in California.) The Plain is a flat area at an elevation of about 2200 feet in the middle of the Coast Range roughly between San Luis Obispo on the coast and Bakersfield in the Central Valley. The San Andreas Fault run through the Carrizo Plain like a zipper up the back of a dress. (Double click for full picture.)
We went south on Highway 101 to Highway 58 where we turned left to drive through the Coast Range. I had never been on Highway 58 before and was charmed by its curves. Highway 152 over Pacheco pass used to be my favorite road through the Coast Range, but no more.There is no real pass to speak of on 58, but the road is nice and curvy and very scenic!
With – on this day – lots of people stopping to take pictures of wildflowers.
After about 50 miles and 50 stops, we were on the Carrizo Plain. A very big empty spot.
We had spent most of the day driving down 101 (I am not ready to say the 101, yet) and then taking pictures on 58, so it was pretty late by the time we got to the Carrizo Plain. It was starting to get cold, windy, and dark, so we fired up the barbecue and got on with making camp. It got colder and I was not really prepared for it. I was prepared for cool, not cold.
The weather forecast had been for the low 70s during the day and the high 40s at night. I sort of thought it just felt cold because it was windy and not as dry as, say, the Mojave, but the next day we found out that it had dropped down to 27F. But I already knew it was cold when, waking up in the middle of the night, there was a nice, thick, layer of frost on the bag.
The next day was still cold and still windy but very photogenic which I will write about tomorrow.