How far are you willing to go to see or do something that will bring you joy? Are you willing to risk your life or put other people in danger? I guess it depends on the kind of person you are. “No Pain No Gain,” right? Well, I think my life is more valuable than seeing wildflowers on the side of the road.
This past weekend I was anxious to get on the road to see the incredible super bloom in the Southern California deserts. The closes desert to me is the Anza-Borrego Desert which I love to visit in pervious wildflower sessions. In recent years the bloom has been less then remarkable due to the drought. This year there has been record rainfall hence the super bloom.
Saturday came around and my original plans to visit Dixon Lake were cancelled. Not knowing what to do the thought of checking out a local trail with the promise of wilflowers seem appealing. I had heard on the radio that traffic to the Anza Borrego Desert was very bad so much so that the main arteries to the desert were packed with cars. I decided to skip the crowds and just visit a local trail that had a beautiful yellow hillside of wildflowers. That trail had many flowers but deep inside I was not satisfied with the flowers on the local trail. I wanted to see the big show, the super bloom that everyone was talking about, well at least the people who like wildflowers. Usually those people are travel bloggers and photographers were who post amazing photos of the colorful trails.
DesertUSA.com has an excellent wilflower report. I use it every year and highly recommend it. For days I was reading the reports and looked at pictures being posted of various parts in Southern California. I was just dying to get out there. Instead of going to my local desert I decided to drag my man to a closer spot in Lake Elsinore. Walker Canyon was the hotspot for wildflowers. DesertUSA gave the location and the exit which was Lake Street. We headed to Walker Canyon. I was excited and was even planning the shots I would take. I am sure he was thinking of all the stuff he could be doing instead of searching for wildflowers. He was a trooper the whole time and I thank him for wanting to make me happy.
As we got closer to Walker Canyon we started to notice that the traffic on the freeway was slowing down. It was hard not to notice the orange blanket covering the side of the mountains. It was unbelievable. What was even more unbelievable was the people stopping on the emergency lane to get off to take pictures of the wildflowers. There were serveral cars parked in the emergency lane. Of course I would not be those people who would do something as ridiculous as that, I was dumb enough to get trapped in traffic. Let me explain, as we got closer to Lake Street I notice from afar that the exit was at a stand still and there was a line of cars to exit. The cars formed a line on the emergency lane allowing freeway traffic to pass without slowing down. Everything seem great, the flower hippies like me waited and did not block traffic and everything was good with the world until the chaos started.
As I drove closer to the exit ramp I got a clear view of the traffic on Lake Street and the long ramp. There were so many people I know it would be hard to find parking on this non residential area next to the freeway. I was sure we would be stuck in traffic for several hours plus any time needed to find parking and take photos. I know that this would be a bad idea but I really wanted to see the poppy flowers growing on these mountains. I was willing to wait that is until I started to notice that cars on the slow lane started to bypass the line to exit, remember the line to exit was in the emergency lane. More and more cars started to slow down the freeway and try to exit only to be awkwardly parked in the slow lane because there was no exit. It wasn’t until I saw one car stop suddenly and just behind the car was a big RV who just managed to stop in time before it plowed through the cars lined up to see flowers. That is when I realize how dangerous the situation was getting. Traffic on the freeway started to look dangerous with some cars trying to get in the stalled traffic on the exit ramp ignoring the long line waiting on the emergency lane. With not enough space to accelerate some cars just went for it and caused the freeway traffic stop suddenly. When I saw the RV almost hit one of the cars wanting to get off the freeway that is when I made my decision, my life is worth more than wildflowers. The traffic was becoming increasingly dangerous and I had a small window of opportunity to exit. The more I tried to exit the more cars started to block me. It wasn’t until another car stopped suddenly and blocked the freeway flow that I stepped on the gas and hoped that I got out before an accident accord. As I drove pass the exit ramp I realize how the magnitude of the situation. Although the flowers were beautiful it was not worth getting into a car accident.
Disappointed I drove for several miles hoping to see more fields of wildflowers. The further I was from Walker Canyon the dryer it looked. We decided to just go home. Disappointed but relieved of not being in that mess. We drove admiring the flowers from afar. We did find a spot of wildflowers far away from the crowds and that is where I took some quick shots before I headed home.
- Visit the DesertUSA website for wildflower reports
- Wake up early, VERY EARLY
- Know that if a location is being published on social media, people are going to go so expect crowds.
- Don’t block traffic some people just want to go home.