Saturday, April 28

the finding of mt. palomar

mt. palomar, campground, california
sx-70, polaroid 600 expired film

Since we didn't have much of a plan to go by on our trip, except that tim wanted to see the Phillies play in san diego, I did some research while there, picking out likely camping spots at random off the map and looking them up online on the hotel computer in the lobby. The night before last, I had found us a campground with very little information ~ I knew it was on a mountain in coniferous forests, it was a mile high, and it was small.

We set off, not knowing what we would find, or if it would be open. We drove through miles of southern california countryside following our directions past huge nurseries with acres of potted cacti, farms which reminded me of our costa rican trip, little taquerias, small grocery stores. We stopped at one and bought frozen fruit bars ~ the choices included flavors like lime, coconut, rice pudding, rum raisin and cucumber with chile. When we reached the base of Mt. Palomar, we were high up with thousands of feet in elevation yet to gain, and the clouds were rolling in. We wound up a snaking road through opaque white clouds which obscured the road. We could see nothing around us but the occasional tree and finally burst through the cloudcover to see fields, trees and cunning little chalets scattered along the mountainside, all lit by brilliant sun and a perfectly clear blue sky. We were there only minutes before a turn in the road plunged us into the fog again and we arrived at the campground.

The place was wonderfully deserted, and we took our pick of sites, choosing one underneath a magnificent tree. All had little wooden cupboards to protect our food from the ravens and the ground squirrels, which are a worse nuisance than bear. (Earlier in the week the squirrels had bitten a hole in the tent and entered to eat the croissants we were saving for breakfast. They must have spread the word since many tried to enter even when we blocked the hole and were inside napping.)

Above flew a chattering group of at least a dozen woodpeckers, and below on the leaves were their bold black and white feathers. It was heaven.

the woodpecker tree

Tim set the tent up and we strolled, watching for the bright blue of the stellar's jays and bluebirds, listening to the unceasing talk of the woodpeckers and seeing the ancient massive trees and how they laid their fleshy limbs over the immense rocks.

That evening we sat by the fire for a long time, talking and not talking, then tucked ourselves away from the unexpected cold into the tent under a sky fuzzy and sparkling with stars, a teal blue Venus and a bright sharp sliver moon, small at a mile high, cupped around the soft gray of the old moon.

sx-70, polaroid 600 expired film

We spent a long time there the next morning, breakfasting at the pond and going for a little hike, and our drive down revealed the surrounding views which had been hidden by the clouds the day before. Satiated, triumphant, we stopped often to gaze and when we finally reached the main road, we bought sweet mangoes and went on our way.