Return to Table Mountain

One of my favorite places is Table Mountain outside of Oroville in the spring as it bursts with waterfalls and flowers. However, it is being loved to death and I will no longer be heading up. Please also consider going to another of the north valley wildflower spots to find these great ones.

The snow on the Snow Mountains was brilliant with the valley farmwork in between. I think that is a snow covered goat mountain below

This meadowfoam flower is endemic to this mountain, a volcanic mesa, and often grows right in and next to the water

This is a seep monkey flower, it only grows in wet areas too, but not in the water like the meadowfoam

Blue sky lupline was good at clustering that year (2016)

A close-up

And this was the best shot of the day of it

Hairypink flower

Yellow carpet flowers weren’t so carpety anymore

The creek heading down to the main falls

I’ve seen these hills in a multi-colored riot with zero green, so this year wasn’t as impressive

And neither was the waterfall, 2017 was much better

See the toad?

It was about the size of a 12 year old’s fist

I’m not finding a name for this beauty with blue stamens

Of this tiny one

One of the five violets that can be found here, I’ve only ever seen three at one time

Another highlight was this beautiful yellow garden spider


A vert rare white larkspur. There is only one patch of it on the main trail to the falls that I have found, and it usually is all blue

Next time hopefully sooner!

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Clear Creek – Contrasting Beauty

I went hunting for minerals on some BLM land with my dad last year in the late spring in San Benito County. It was a dreary day, but we found some really cool rocks (apologies that I was not able to get good shots of those).

It is a pretty stark landscape (especially during the summer)

The ground is mostly crumbling serpentine and other rare rocks and minerals, it has been mined for many things for over 100 years, but I still found some pretty, it had rained and the rocks were all clean and dazzling

Lots of interesting formations

They have closed off a large part of the area to ATVs

A shame really, those would have made our mineral hunt much, much more successful

Lots of erosion

On the way out, there were tons of great scenes, including this red barn

And even some flowers

Lots of yellow and orange

But some purple too

My second favorite shot of the day

California lilac in bloom, or Ceanothus

Interesting pink lupine



We also stopped at a fossil site up the highway

Didn’t find too much besides great views, but the fossils are in that white band of sedimentary rocks, this used to be a seabed

Next up, lots of wildflowers!

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Mission Post #3 – San Juan Bautista

The northernmost mission on my trips to central California missions was in San Benito County off highway 101.

The old Camino Real, or Royal Road, that connected each mission within more or less one day’s horse ride, abuts the property here, usually it is buried under 101

The wild almond trees were blooming with a honey scent

The famous mission bells

A better view

Inside it is still a working church like the others


Beautiful artwork

The old mission walls are preserved with the current coating of plaster, but there are a few windows into its old bones

Like these old painted sections


The museum also displays native american items, from those who were near the mission

Including grinding stones

This diorama was quite detailed

And more exposed adobe wall

Sorry for the glares, a priest’s cabinet

Some very old books on display, this ‘Applying Geographic Principals for the Use of Maps’ was from 1735

And others even older

The priest had pretty nice digs

Outside where the workers/natives lived was less refined, with large cooking pots and shacks

The garden was quite nice, lots of very old plants

And contemplative views

Another almond or a stone fruit tree in bloom


In back is the cemetery where many of the priests are buried

An olive grove surrounds this peaceful hideaway

It has a commanding view of the surrounding San Juan valley

A proper resting place for these religious servants

See you next time.

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Missions pt. 2 – Soledad

Next on the list from my trips to see the missions in Central California was La Soledad, near the town of the same name.

Back of the restored church with the classic Camino Real bell

Unfortunately, due to the materials used and neglect, the original church is no more

But this is what part of it looked like back in 1953

And another

This is now preserved outside

The adobe construction is perfect for the climate, but not durable

It was made of sand, clay, mud and used pottery

Which kinda melts in the winter rains over time

A natural spring fountain, very old with all the mineralization under the slime

Cute pool

Inside the church, still active

It was quaint but beautiful

Like this stained wood ceiling

Prayer candles

And another of these nooks. Anyone?

There is a museum on site as well, these are artifacts from the first inhabitants of this area


More recent artifacts

The property abuts very productive farmland and was almost lost

They have re-created some of the plant culture of the missions, with this citrus


Olives for oil (other missions make and sell oil from the oldest trees)

And this ancient wine grape

A good six inches across and maybe 100 years old

A new grove of old ,

Next up, San Juan Bautista



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