7 Ways not to be a Natural Disaster in Nature!!

So you want to see some poppies…

Are you ready for the crowds? Are you ready for the hike? I’m sure many of you have heard the story about Lake Elsinore shutting down access to the hillsides due to the LARGE amount of people that refused to observe the path and walked amongst the poppies.

7 Ways NOT to be a Natural Disaster in Nature!

(*David Letterman Style)

7 - Wear actual hiking shoes.

6 - Wear a hat.

5 - Wear layers.

4 - Set the alarm for 4am to get there before sunrise.

3 - Bring water.

2 - LIVE in the Moment!!!

1 - DON’T PICK, WALK ON or OTHERWISE destroy what you came to see.


I heard someone say “It’s just one flower!” They were reporting 50,000 people showing up everyday to Walker Canyon…imagine if everyone said “it’s just one”… the super –bloom would just be the “bloom”!

Nature is what it is..natural. We want to make sure for years to come it is still able to thrive, exist and survive humans. When a rare natural bloom occurs and thousands upon thousands descend to the hillsides; people become moronic.

The hills in Lake Elsinore were gorgeous and as a photographer, I could have spent the remainder of Sunday driving around the area.

I was up at 4:30am on Sunday 3/17, Tee (friend) came over at 5:30am, I grabbed my gear that I packed up the night before, the dogs and we headed to get “The Becky” and leave the boys ( @burgerandthefriend ) with her husband or as I call him…”The Chad”.

It’s a rare occasion in LA, that an hour and half drive actually represent the mileage. It took us about a 1 ½ hours to get there. Typically my hour and half drive is only 19 miles.

We started the climb around 8am, spent two hours walking around and taking photos (and yes…we stayed on paths. NO flowers were harmed in our adventures. I watched as hundreds, crawled through the flowers, took STUPID risks to get “that” photo! (note: there are bare paths between many of the flowers and while most were being very careful..it’s the few that believe “it’s just one”, don’t seem to not grasp reality.

I was a photojournalist, I’ve truly seen it all. But I refuse to take risks that would cause me pain or break something! I’m not going to be scaling a mountain/hill with a 7 month old knee. Hell I was out of breath climbing the ascent!! Yea...I KNOW I’m out of shape...but I have to start somewhere and why not a mountain painted in various colors of orange, yellows, greens and purples!

Knee Replacement Tip: If you ever have to have surgery for a knee/hip. Try (even though painful)…try to work out and get in shape. I swam every day for 3 months before the surgery to try and get muscles to strengthen.  I had 14 years of pain, which slowly created the out of shape body I am in.


New Places to Hike & Explore

For the most part Walker Canyon was very enjoyable and I will probably head back once the madness chills. I forgot just how much I missed hiking. I forgot how much I missed being outside surrounded by nature. The knee held up and now, I’m planning to hike every other weekend. Find new trails, new places in LA I’ve not seen.

I’ve done the “Hollywood” thing in my 30s, clubs, night-life etc…time for a different adventure!

The hillsides were spectacular and truly bright orange! It is worth a drive by or a hike. Orange speckles the hills, If the sun is out, it seems even more surreal. The hills looks like they have been dosed in the fire retardant used to dose forest fires... How do I know this?

Side Story: Working for the Coeur d’Alene Press in Idaho, a call came over the scanner about a forest fire north of town. I took my camera and headed up the mountain, getting there before the police blocked the road.  Driving in the direction of the smoke I ended up parking next to the Fire Chief's truck. Fire crackled 25 feet from me as I watched them battle the approaching flames. While he and I were discussing their plan of attack and I was getting the names of the firefighters. I heard “DUCK!!”

Looked up and was able to bend over just in time before, my gear, my face and well everything I was wearing became bright orange!

I’m not sure what the retardant would have done to my camera, but fairly certain it would have ruined my day of work. Clothes can be cleaned. Hair can be washed and while cameras can be replaced, I didn’t have the $!

We laughed, wiped off as much as I could and he said if you want to catch them filling up after they dump, drive up the pass a bit more. So my orange –self, climbed into my car, and found the overlook and watched and photographed as the plane skimmed the top of a lake to fill the tank with water. (PSA: In 1998: Once fire planes have dumped the retardant, if they needed to quickly dose the fire again and could, they would fill the planes dumping tanks with water from a nearby lake). A very cool feat to watch as the massive cargo-size plane, skimed the surface of a lake. Basically the pilot had MAD skills!!!


Exploring Dirt Roads and Random Art

This past Sunday, Tee and I left by 5:30am. Trying to get to Antelope Valley before the sunrise. Unfortunately the park was having computer issues and it took sometime to get everyone registered. Quickly grabbing the gear, we climbed the first hill so I could shoot a time-lapse of the the rest of sunrise. It was gorgeous but COLD!!

I obtained one of my personal achievements by climbing to the top of the highest hill in Antelope Valley. It may not seem like much but when you walk everyday with knee pain, there were many things I missed out on because I knew what it cost me. Now I’m making up for lost time. (2 Hikes in 2 weekends!) My friends may start avoiding my texts asking if they are interested in going on hikes.

While driving around Antelope Valley after spending a couple of hours walking around the hills and Vloging I decided to do what I’ve done most of my life. Take random roads and get “Lost” It didn’t take long until I discovered Art in Residence “Then Now a Dream”  in the middle of a field. No homes, just open field and hills as far as the eye could see!

poppy_2019_creative-00332_sm.jpg

This space which was founded by artists Nathaniel Ancheta and David Edward Martin, is an open-air alternative exhibition space for site-specific installations. ( Coordinates: 34°43’39.0”N 118°22’12.7”W )

Pretty amazing Gallery space! Can’t beat the backdrop!


So a final tip…go “get lost”. Explore the unseen and unknown!!