I’ve been doing some driving of late, although considerably less than usual because of high gas prices. The oil companies can raise their prices, but they can’t have any more of my money. So I drive less and strive to make the most of the driving I do.
One of my gas-saving practices is to drive slower, which actually has a wonderful side benefit. I have opportunities to enjoy some scenery that previously whizzed by like a blur.
That brings me to wildflowers. I eagerly anticipate springtime because I love to drive the backcountry and admire the explosion of flower power.
The colors amaze me. I see gold, blue, orange, yellow, violet and numerous other colors. I must confess that I know critters much better than I know wildflowers, so I can’t even name most of the flowers I see. But I sure do admire them.
Just along the Highway 101 corridor between here and Santa Maria (in between the vineyards), the colors capture the eye. But along the more remote roads of our county, the presence of wildflowers is dazzling. The long and wet winter season is to thank. Now we get the full benefit of the copious rains and snow.
Sloping hillsides explode in yellow mustard seed plants. Backcountry roadsides turn blue, yellow and orange. Meadows off in the distance show off varied and vibrant color patches. Much of it can be seen from the road, but some habitats grow incredible wildflowers that we must stop the car and take a walk to fully appreciate.
The Cuyama Badlands is a prime example. Some of the prettiest wildflowers are only the size of a dime and can’t be seen well from a moving car. A sightseeing walk off-road is required for full effect.
I will not suggest extra long drives when the gas prices are at gouging levels, but I do suggest that we all slow down and enjoy one of the greatest annual shows of nature — flower power explosion in the backcountry.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.