Outside Idyllwild: Two trips to Garner Valley …

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A bee lands on a twiggy wreath plant near Fobes Ranch Road in Garner Valley. Photo by Bruce Watts

On July 3, I woke at sunrise, quickly dressed and went outside to check out the morning sky. Lots of cottonball puffy clouds filled the southern sky with just enough blue showing through to make for a dramatic golden hour.

I went inside, packed up my gear and headed out to Garner Valley to see what the flowers and butterflies were doing. My plan was to head over to Fobes Ranch Road to photograph some landscapes and then head over to Lake Hemet to see the wildflowers in bloom.

It turned out to be a little cloudier than I thought. The sun remained hidden from view with only an occasional sunray escaping from the dark mass of clouds. I clicked away, nonetheless, and kept my eyes peeled for any unusual wildflowers or butterflies.

As I walked around on the road, I saw what looked like a plant topped with fried eggs. Unfortunately it was pretty far off and behind a barbed-wire fence. On my last trip to Garner Valley, I had an encounter with barbed wire that left a 6-inch gash above my right ankle.

I decided to keep my distance and use the camera’s zoom lens to get closer to what I found out later was a prickly poppy, Argemone munita.

After taking about 150 photos, I decided to make my way over to the lake but roadside wildflowers proved to be too tempting so I pulled over to walk up and down the roadside.

I found sand verbena, sapphire woollystar (Eriastrum sapphirinum), an unknown species of orange globemallow, California evening primrose, spearleaf mountain dandelion, twiggy wreath plant, small bluish flax flower and summer lupines (Lupinus formosus).

Even though I ended up across the highway from Lake Hemet, I never made it to the lake as my camera battery warning light started to blink. That means I have taken too many photos to edit in one session so I headed home. I need to get a backup battery, or maybe not. My new card can hold nearly 2,000 photos so an extra battery could mean trouble.

On the morning of July 6, with a little less cloud cover than the previous trip, I decided to head out to Lake Hemet. This time it was it was straight to the lake, do not pass “Go,” do not collect 200 photos.

It turned out to be that rare day when conditions are perfect for taking landscapes, flowers, butterflies, furry critters or you name it. This was truly one of those days where you are glad to be alive and outdoors.

Unlike a camera, my brain can record millions of images and the batteries last for decades but it is still nice to have camera images to jog the brain and remember days like this.

On Lake Hemet Road, I stopped once again and walked up and down looking for interesting flower species. I found narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), southern honeysuckle, low carpet clover (Trifolium spp.), twiggy wreath plants (with paler flowers and purple pollen) and an unidentified fiddleneck-like plant.

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