May 11, 2003 Led and reported by Marian Johns
Mothers (and other participants) were honored on this special day with perfect weather and wildflowers galore. Two of our members (Anna Romero and Jim Proffit) actually brought their moms, and one mom (Lorene Crawford) brought one of her daughters.
Twelve vehicles met in Mojave. From there, we drove west on Hwy. 58 and past Tehachapi a few miles to the Tehachapi Loop, where the Santa Fe and Union Pacific track makes a complete 360 degree loop around and back over itself in order to gain altitude where the grade would otherwise be too steep. This engineering feat was built back in 1876. We were lucky enough to arrive at the viewing area just as a train was circling around on its way uphill. We stayed a while longer and hiked out to a nearby point for a better view of the next train, which happened to be going downhill.
On our way back to Tehachapi we admired wildflowers that seemed to be growing everywhere. I was afraid there might not be too many this late in the spring, but recent rains and cool weather kept the beauties blooming. Being in a train mode, we stopped in town at the local railroad club’s model train show where we watched little replicas of a variety of scales going round and round through tiny villages and countrysides. A block away was the railroad park next to the tracks where some of us ate our picnic lunches and watched huge locomotives pass by.
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After lunch, we took the Willow Springs Road over to Antelope Valley. There, we picked up Highway 138 and turned west again heading for Gorman. Soon, we caught glimpses of orange poppy fields off in the distance. Although the flowers at the Poppy Reserve were past their prime, new fields farther west were in full bloom, covering acres and acres with solid orange. Yet the best was still to come. Just south of Gorman, purples, blues, pinks, yellows and oranges spread across the hillsides. Incredible! Beautiful! Amazing! Awesome! What a show! Words can hardly describe the sight. These lovely hills were just as wonderful when I went six weeks earlier. They were so stunning then, I couldn’t believe they would last long enough for our Mothers’ Day trip, but they did. Lucky us! I’m sure thousands of photos were taken there this Mothers’ Day as the roadside was lined with cars of other folks out appreciating nature at her colorful best.
To top the day off, we returned to the L.A. area via the old Ridge Route, a winding, narrow, but paved road that was once the primary highway between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. It was built in 1915, and at that time, it was considered an ngineering marvel. Yet, because it was so narrow, twisty, and steep, it was also dangerous. My mother told stories of my uncle, a truck driver in those days, making the arduous trip over this road (and the Grapevine down the other side). Today, the Ridge Route is only used by sightseers and nostalgia buffs. We found more wildflowers here too, mostly reds and yellows and some purple lining the road side.
This was certainly a memorable Mothers’ Day for me - one of the best wildflower seasons I can remember. One spring years ago, when my brother and I were kids, my mother took us up to Gorman to see the wildflowers. Because of her, I keep going back. Though she’s been gone a dozen years, I know she was there in spirit this Mothers’ Day.