A Day of Poppies, Commies, and Bandits


I took Julia up on her suggestion to check out the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve but added a few more spots to my day trip itinerary, click ahead if you want to see what I saw. Be warned, lots of pics ahead.


Why should you go and visit a field full of little flowers? Besides the chance to contemplate the wonders of nature, the beauty of the flora around us, the magnificent vistas, and a bunch of other wordy reasons, the main factor that motivates me to head out to the Antelope Valley is just for the drive out of the city! It’s like a mini road trip yet you can still get back home in time to sleep in your own ratty but comfortable bed. Plus you get to see all kinds of stuff that you might not encounter on your usual routines, it can make the trip seem like visiting a whole new place, even if it is nearby. On the start of this trip I got to see some mini trees in the back of a nursery truck, I took that as a good sign.


Plus I got to see a gigantic cellular tree sprouting out of a building. Err, the fake tree illusion doesn’t work so well when it grows thru a roof. FAIL!


I can understand the value of a geodesic home, but I can’t imagine why a matching geo-garage for an SUV would be necessary. Maybe it has its own little loft?


Right around here, where we saw all these poppies and people taking pics, the GPS system claimed that we had arrived. There was no visitor center in sight so after driving a bit, we backtracked assuming we should have turned where the damn computer said goodbye.


If you go up this little paved road, near this memorial, you will end up..


..at a secret mattress burial ground, where the disappointed sleeper comes to dump the memories of all those unsatisfactory nights.


Oof, that’s a lot of discarded memories. Does nobody else love their ratty mattresses?


Back in my day, we’d be happy with some burlap sacks on a bit of straw, but I guess people are getting much more fussy about where they lie. Or lay. Don’t be a cochino, you know what I mean!


Ha! Some other chump makes a wrong turn looking for the poppy fields. You ain’t from around here, is you? Stupid tourists. Let me know when you find the visitor center! Guffaw! Uhh, really, please do.


So it turns out you need to turn off that stupid GPS computer in the car and just keep driving, at least until you see this sign.


Here we go! This is it!


There was some confusion at this sign, compounded by the fact other cars were pulling up right behind as they waited for me to figure this out. So here is what I now know: in order to park your car you need to put $5 into an envelope (I guess they assume you will have the correct change) and fill out the following info on the envelope: Name, Date, Vehicle Lic. No., State, CAMPING, Campsite No., No. of Nights, Check applicable boxes below:, Additional Motorized Vehicles Lic. No., Other, Type of Pass or Discount, Pass No., Amount Enclosed $, DAY USE, Check applicable boxes below:, Parking, Boat Use, Other, Type of Pass or Discount, Pass No., Amount Enclosed $. Then tear off the stub and place the envelope in the green box.

Then you have to fill out the stub, which reads PERMIT, Amount Enclosed $, Date, Type of Pass or Discount, Pass No., CAMPING – Campers Check Out 12 Noon, Campsite No., No. of Nights, Check applicable boxes below:, Additional Motorized Vehicles Lic. No., Other, DAY USE- Valid Date of Purchase Only, Check applicable boxes below:, Parking, Boat Use, Other, and place the stub on your dashboard.

Oh damn, did I bring a pen? Solution: Fuck this shit. Zoom, zoom, park. I’ll pay you later homes, I’m good for it. (Results may vary.)


I assume this is the visitors center. At least that’s my interpretation.


A guide of the various parts of the poppy. I didn’t bring my dissecting knife so I’ll take them at their word.


The circle of life explained. AKA, stuffed animals under glass.


Bored owls preparing to leave the hell of other species, but something tells me escape attempts might be futile.


I learn something every once in awhile: the euphemistic terms for some human functions, aka #1 and #2, are verified to be official, thus sez Sloan! Cuz using the words piss and shit is just way too complicated and insulting for all us civilized folks. Numbers it is! Example: I hereby #1on your puritanical sense of decency. I #2 you not.


Que purty.


Watch for snakes. Stay on trails. Check.


All that driving, all those notices, just to see this tiny little flower. I guess I’m getting old because somehow I understand why it’s worth the trip. Young punks can commence their cries of sellout…now.


Hey look, even more poppies! Trust me, they don’t do anything other than this, but it looks much nicer up in person. Just like a band that you’d rather see live than hear on a cd.


It’s a preserve, so they’re trying to get people not to walk all over the place. It makes sense.


One thing I should warn you about: the lizards are not friendly. They will glare at you, stare you down even, and then run away in revulsion at your approach. It might not look like much, but in this crevice some angry lizard is cursing me with its beady eyes, disgusted at me, the landscape tourist that means well: “I’m bringing spending dollars, Mr. Lagartija, which your neighborhood needs for some necessary improvements. I’m sorry if you’ll be forced to move out of your dirt hole in the process, but it’s not my fault that I can afford to make the trip here. I wish you could stay, but whatever.”


A nice clump of poppies. It looks like soon the whole hillside will be full of these blooming flowers, but it was still a nice display when I got to see it.


Everyone likes a photo-op.


There it is! That mean lizard giving me the mal ojo has been following me around. Okay, time to get out of this place, I don’t want any trouble.


If you’re smarter than I am, you will bring a nice picnic basket to enjoy at these benches.


Extra rooms for the #1 and the #2.


What is wrong with you people? A photo crew ignores the signs about staying on the trails and instead chooses to trample and sit on the poppies. Just cuz you have a fancy camera and a deadline doesn’t make you exempt. Que se te quiebre la camara, que se borren tus fotos.


There’s an overpriced antique store nearby where creepy dolls hang out.


There’s also a detention facility nearby, cross your fingers you or yours never have to spend time inside.


If you want to take a little detour, one site I like to visit in the Antelope Valley are the ruins of the Llano del Rio Colony, a failed Socialist experiment in cooperative living. There isn’t much left, but its still inspiring to see the remains of a place that attempted to put some ideals into practice. If you want to find out more I suggest reading the book Bread & Hyacinths: The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles. And if you want to visit, it’s in Llano, just before the post office on Pearblossom Hwy.


I think this used to be the giant silo used for alfalfa storage.


Not sure how these were used. You have to admire the use of river rocks, practical and pretty.


One of the large chimneys from the hotel.


The harsh environment hasn’t been kind to the remains of Llano del Rio.


I don’t think all these rusty old cans were from the original inhabitants, though they do look kinda nice.


Robert-Pat 4-Ever 11-12-00. An odd statement of perpetuity on a site that only lasted from 1914 until about 1918.


Yet another secret mattress burial site, but for Socialist beds.


Thinking about strategies for social change can really wear you out, thus it was time for a quick meal to refresh the batteries. There’s not too much eats on offer in Llano, and I wasn’t about to hit up McDonalds or Billy Bob’s Cafe. Mica’s in Littlerock was our choice for a quick pit stop.


Mica’s 7704 E. Pearblossom Hwy

Littlerock, CA 93543


A decent bean and cheese burrito can be had for $3.50, good enough for this beaner on the go. Speaking of beaners on the go, let’s head on over to our next stop, Vasquez Rocks!


Lots of people know this as the site for Star Trek episodes or other tv and film features, but I visit based on the person they were named after, the Californio Tiburcio Vasquez that used these these rock formations to hide from the law. Born in California when it was still Mexico, he was around when the gringo immigrants were on their Manifest Destiny trip and he watched as they took over. Accused of crimes he could never prove otherwise in the new gringo courts, he went on the run and turned to extra-legal activities to get by. And the Mexicans of the day helped him in his endeavors, as they saw him as a sort of hero for standing up to the new pallid overlords. With all the bashing being heaped on Mexican and other immigrants from south of the Rio Bravo nowadays, I think the time is ripe for a new hero to inspire and galvanize the people that keep getting referred to in passing or as mere things. Super Mojado is a start, but I’m looking forward to some serious transgressors.


Oh yeah, back to the rocks. As you can see here, people like to climb up to the peaks, which some seem to do very quickly. Me? I’d rather take it easy..


..and contemplate resting spots, like these perfectly shaped rock formations designed for napping. I wonder if Vasquez ever took a nap here as well?


And the view is spectacular!


The good thing about Vasquez Rocks is that you can explore much of it in a small amount of time, the climbing around is easier than it looks. Check out this short clip to learn more.

Vasquez Rocks

10700 W. Escondido Canyon Rd.

Agua Dulce, CA 91350

(661) 268-0840

So there you have it, an itinerary for those into flowers, commies, and bandits, all of it easy to experience in one day trip. Don’t you all rush out at once!

5 thoughts on “A Day of Poppies, Commies, and Bandits”

  1. Awesome El Chavo! I can’t wait to get out there, commie picnic in hand, mattress on the roof, and stare down some lizards.

    Oh, and see the beautiful flowers.

  2. I really like your take on things and how you share it. Thanks.

    Don’t forget both of the Flintstone movies were filmed out at Vasquez Rocks as well.

  3. Great essay, thanks CHAVO! Don’t worry about selling out, I did the same thing when I asked my wife to marry me atop Kitenenmuk Point in the Poppy Reserve back on a windy April day in 1993.

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