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California Wildflowers are bursting after a year of epic snow and rain

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Wildflower Power!
Spring heralds an explosion of color as California hillsides, mountains, valleys and deserts come to life after a short winter's nap.  A variety of climates and terrain keeps California wildflowers blooming throughout the year, but at no other time is the petaled pageantry this prolific. Wet winters almost without fail mean an eye-popping wildflower season. This year's epic snowfall and rain should translate into a wildflower season like no other. In higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Eastern Sierra, the deep snows could mean a later than usual wildflower show. However, is should be spectacular. Keep your eyes on Mono and Inyo counties. 

Wildflower names like scarlet monkey-flower, Indian paint brush, Western cranesbill and hummingbird sage stir exotic images. These are but a few of the hundreds of wildflower species found in California. 

Everywhere the landscape is transformed into a palette of color. Fields of blue cornflowers, lupine and baby-blue eyes rival any Spring sky. Hills and dales are sun-splashed with the yellows and oranges of California Poppies, wild mustard and goldfields.  The High Desert is a Technicolor showing of desert candles, Mariposa lilies and white and pink primroses.  In the foothills, tiny "redbuds" clinging to leafless branches are some of the earliest signs of Spring.  Later, at the higher elevations, dogwood blossoms lace the trees.

Regardless of when visitors plan to take a walk on the wild(flower) side, they should keep in mind several helpful tips:

*It's against the law to pick wildflowers in California.  They are pleasures for the eye only.

* It's best to stick to specified trails so as not to damage fragile wildflowers and plants.

* Some wildflowers close up at night -- especially in the desert -- and need an hour or so of morning warmth to open up.

* Both wildflowers and cactus flowers depend on rain.  A quick call to any of the areas listed or to local visitor bureaus can confirm that the flowering has begun.

Following is a partial list of the many wildflower viewing areas in Northern and Southern California.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWERS

Jepson Prairie Preserve, Solano County 
The time to visit Jepson is late February through late April.  Violas and owl's clover are among the wildflowers lending sun-color to the countryside.  The tiny blue downingia can be found here, too.  Wildflower Tours led by docents are free, but must be scheduled in advance. This year's monumental rainfalls should translate into a vibrant prairie and an overlfowing Olcott Lake. 

Feather River Canyon, Plumas County.  Cascading waterfalls and wildflowers in the spring highlight the canyon's natural beauty - especially showy from mid-March through June with a constantly changing display of wildflower color.  Early color may be seen in the yellows of the delicate waterfall buttercups and the reds of redbud shrub  followed by the delicate white dogwood blossoms. Later wildflower colors may be seen in the yellow bush monkey flower hanging from the rock walls and the blues of the shrubby silver lupine. 

Chico's Bidwell Park, Butte County 
Blossom-filled wildflower walks range from easy strolls to climbing over rougher terrain.  The Yahl Trail from Big Chico Creek to Brown's Hole, for instance, gradually stretches uphill for some two and a half miles while the round-trip on the North Rim Trail covers about nine miles of varying grades.  Spring brings out lupines, poppies, delphiniums, buttercups and Western Redbuds.

Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County 
During March, April and early May, for many people, the sea views from Chimney Rock, near the lighthouse, take second-place to the sight of Douglas iris, violets, goldfields, lupines, poppies, baby blue-eyes and more.  Each month brings a different batch of wildflower blooms.   

Wildflower Along Hwy 94 -3San Bruno Mountain State and County Parks, San Mateo County 
The Summit Loop--a three-mile walk that gains a bit in elevation--is the place to find yarrow, Wright's paintbrush, sun cups, seaside daisies, hummingbird sage, goldfields and others.  The best wildflower-viewing times are in March and April. 

South Yuba State Park, Nevada County 
The volunteer-built Independence Trail is one of the few nature trails in the U.S. to have wheelchair access.  From late March to early June, a spectacular array of wildflowers -- California Indian pink, delphinium, California pipevine, mock orange, iris, pink phlox, white fairy lantern, yellow cat's ear -- are visible here.  More good wildflower viewing -- though not wheelchair accessible -- is along the Sierra Gateway Trail.  This trail is about 15 road miles from Independence Trail, but only eight miles or so down the South Yuba River.  Wildflower bloom here begins in late February and runs into April.

Sierra National Forest, Mariposa County
From El Portal, a mile below Yosemite National Park, the Hite Cove Trail traverses the South Fork of the Merced River.  The trail -- about eight miles in all -- leads past 100 or so species of wildflowers.  In March, April and early May, the ground is carpeted with baby blue-eyes, lupines, California poppies, mariposa lilies and other wildflower blossoms.

Kern County 
If your schedule doesn't allow for hiking, Kern County offers driving views of California wildflowers.  In Kern River Canyon along Hwy. 178, lupine, blue dicks and popcorn flowers will delight you.  On Hwy. 223 at Hwy. 58, be sure to stop for the poppies and owl's clover.  In the Glennville-Woody area, you will be treated to fields of wild mustard and yellow thistle.  For more information, contact:  Kern County Board of Trade, 2101 Oak Street, Bakersfield, CA  93302

WILDFLOWER FESTIVALS & EVENTS

March:  Blossom Day Festival, Sanger 
Car show, a 10k run and two-mile walk, and a street fair, arts and crafts booths, live music, and food booths with funnel cakes and Mexican specialties in surroundings that are expected to include the annual spring flowers in bloom.

April:  Mather Vernal Pool Flower Walks, Rancho Cordova 
Two-hour tour to explore this magic carpet of flowers.  These unique wildflowers bloom only for a brief period in the spring.  Sponsored by the Sacramento Chapter of the California Native Plants Society.

April:  Bufferlands Birds & Blooms Tour, Sacramento
California poppies, lupine, owl's clover, and baby blue-eyes grow around the uplands and wetlands edges. Thousands of waterfowl and other wetland birds winter at the Fishhead Lake wetlands. Meeting location is weather dependent.

April: Wildflower Music Festival, Chico 
This is a day of fun for the whole family! Check out our kid's area with free activities, jump houses, petting zoo, crafts and more! Visit our food vendors for lunch, snacks, dinner & dessert, and don't forget to stop in for a Sierra Nevada brew all while listening and dancing to the best music Chico has to offer!

April: Western Railway Museum, Suisun City (707/374-2978)
The Scenic Limited takes visitors on a six-mile round-trip ride on the old Sacramento Northern Railway, south from Highway 12. The trip lasts about an hour and passengers catch views of the native wildflowers that cover the rolling hills and fields.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWERS

Wildflower Desert Blooms 13During wildflower blooming season (from March through May), visitors to southern California can take advantage of the 24-hour Theodore Payne Wildflowers Foundation hotline in Sun Valley, (818/768-3533).  The hotline offers weekly updates on wildflower status in the Antelope Valley, Santa Monica Mountains, Angeles National Forest, Joshua Tree National Monument, and Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area, Santa Barbara County 
Located near the town of Los Olivos is La Jolla Spring.  March and April are the best months to see phacelias, mariposa lilies, lupine, delphiniums and a bouquet of other wildflower blooms.  

Point Mugu State Park, Ventura County
In February and March, along the Ray Miller Trail, dainty shooting stars are out in multitude together with larkspur, sage and rattleweed.  Other trails good for glimpses of spring color include La Jolla Valley Trail and Mugu Peak Trail.

Antelope Valley State Poppy Reserve, Los Angeles County
Just 15 miles west of Lancaster, visitors will be amazed by 1,700-acres of California poppies and wildflowers.  April, May and June are generally the best months; travelers are advised to confirm the flowering.

Topanga State Park, Los Angeles County
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, this park abounds in widlflower blossoms. Canyon sunflowers, poppies, sage, lilies, Chinese houses and foxglove blooms come out early and can last well into the summer.  A good starting place is the four-mile Musch Ranch Trail.

Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County 
Wildflowers begin to blossom in Pinto Basin.  Beavertail, chollo and pincushion cacti bloom from late April until June.  Evening primroses, desert dandelions, lupines, goldfields, desert stars, Mojave asters and various other wildflowers also dot this desert landscape. Starting near the Cottonwood Visitor Center, the four-mile Lost Palms Oasis Trail offers one of the better walks. 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County 
In February and March, the desert terrain is brightened by red, pink, yellow and orange cacti flowers.  Borrego Palm Canyon Trail (three palm-studded miles round-trip to Palm Canyon oasis) is a popular place to see cactus blossoms this time of year.  More than 600 species of wildflowers are on view, including fireweed, desert lavender, white forget-me-nots, indigo bush and California fuchsias.

Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego County 
This oceanfront terrain is covered with sand verbena, brittlebush, sun cups, wild snapdragons, California poppies, monkey flowers, shooting stars, phacelia, rockroses, golden yarrow and blue delphiniums.  A well-labeled native garden center outside the adobe visitor center provides a more formal viewing experience. 

WILDFLOWER FESTIVALS & EVENTS
April: Orange Cove Blossom Festival, Orange Cove 
Parade, vendors, and pageant to crown the Orange Blossom Queen.

April: Theodore Payne Native Garden Tour, Los Angeles
Thirty-nine Los Angeles-area home landscapes are showcased on the self-guided tour. At least 50% of the plants in each garden are California natives, and some of the region’s most creative homeowners and garden designers will be represented.

April: California Poppy Festival, Lancaster 
The California Poppy Festival kicks off spring in the Antelope Valley with a glorious array of celebrated performers, unrivaled events, and mouth-watering delicacies designed to delight, enchant, and amuse people of all ages.

May:  Wildflower Show, Julian 
Desert to high mountain flowers are on display at Town Hall, includes flowers High Mountain, Desert, Oak and Pine Forest, Chaparral, and High Desert.

Although they aren't wildflowers the earliest blossom frenzy of the season is along the Fresno County Blossom Trail.  Off Highway 99 just east of Fresno, a 67-mile-long flowering fantasy showcases the nut and stone fruit orchards of Fresno County.  In February, pale pink almond blossoms are some of the first performers in this floral extravaganza.  The breathtaking spectacle continues with the blooming of apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines and apples.  The final curtain call is April through May when citrus blossoms perfume the air.  

More Wildflower Resources: SeeCalifornia.com, Plumas County, California State Parks, National Forests, Wildflower Hotline, California Academy of Sciences, Desert Wildflower Report and BLM.


California waterfalls

After years of drought, California waterfalls give thanks to plentiful winter rains and snow 

Vernal Falls Yosemite Barbara 2011The adjectives:  awe-inspiring; breathtaking; spectacular; mesmerizing.  The verbs:  plunging; plummeting; crashing.  The metaphors:  like a thundering curtain or the roar of a hurricane; or like the sound of  bells or murmuring voices. 

Waterfalls. They are mystical and magical. Their size and strength are often times terrifying; their beauty: tranquilizing and hypnotic.  Who hasn't dreamed of showering in their chilling spray or swimming in an emerald pool; or longed to track the water's ancient origins in search of a quiet resting place?  In California, there are memorable waterfalls to match any you have imagined.

The winter rains and (eventually) melting snow pack will have California waterfalls exploding with water. Springtime is generally the best time to view these natural wonders as many of the falls dry-up in the summer heat due to decreased water flows. But during the right winters, waterfalls come crashing back to life. The Native Americans called them "laughing waters."  Though spring is still many months away, California waterfalls are giggling, chortling, screaming, and lifting their voices in tumultuous laughter.

Burney Falls, once called "the eighth wonder of the world" by Teddy Roosevelt, is fed by spring flows of  200 million gallons daily.  Much of the water from these underground streams actually spouts from the rock.  The divided falls rumble down a 129-foot cliff into an emerald pool before flowing into Lake Britton.  Trails that almost anyone can manage lead Burney Falls 3down to the pool on both sides.  For the best view, hike the 1/2-mile trail that traverses the hillside.  You can cross the top of the falls most of the year, but waters run heaviest in the Spring.  McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is located mid-way between Lassen National Volcanic Park and Mt. Shasta.

The McCloud Falls (upper, middle and lower) are 5.9 miles east of the town of McCloud and can be reached by following the signs to Fowler's Camp.  The three falls are within two miles of each other and accessible by car.  There is fishing and a natural swimming hole on Hwy. 89.

Located near Dunsmuir are Mossbrae and Hedge Creek Falls.  Approximately 50 miles north of Redding, Mossbrae is fed by melting water from the glaciers on Mount Shasta.  Hedge Creek is well marked and has a picnic area near the base of the falls.

Approximately 41 miles east of Redding, Potem Creek Falls empties into the Pit River.  A gentle, winding trail makes the falls accessible to hikers. For additional information, contact:  Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association.

Yosemite Falls, the tallest falls in North America (and fifth tallest in the world), drops 2,425 feet to the valley floor.  The Upper Fall plunges 1,430, feet, connecting with the 320-foot  Lower Fall by a 675-foot cascade.  Follow a 3.6-mile trail, which includes a 270-foot gain in elevation, to reach the top of Yosemite Falls.  Start at Lower Yosemite Falls for a 1/2- Romance under the wintry spray of a Yosemite waterfall on the Mist Trail Credit www.YExplore.comday hike with excellent views of Half Dome.  The best views are about two thirds of the way up, so don't feel as if you're missing out if you don't make it to the top.  Impressive views of the falls are seen on the path to the base.

The Merced River flows from the snow fields in the Sierra Nevada, spills over the 594-foot Nevada Falls and then plummets another 317 feet over Vernal Falls.  Known as The Mist Trail,  the hike starts uphill through the mist sprayed by Vernal Falls.  When the light is right, hikers are rewarded with rainbows in the mist of Vernal Falls.  The climb to the top of Nevada Falls is difficult; the last 900 feet of elevation gain are up steep polished granite.  The half-day round-trip up the falls is 3.4 miles one way.

Yosemite Indians called the 620-foot  Bridalveil Fall, Pohono, or "spirit of the puffing winds."  Strong winds often lift the thundering water and blow it sideways.  Bridalveil is visible from the road, but an easy 10-minute walk will take you to its foaming base.

On a strenuous 9-1/2 mile walk from the Tuolumne Meadows area, you can view the exuberant Tuolumne Falls.  Other falls such as the spectacular Waterwheel Falls, are a short distance beyond, near Glen Aulin Camp in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

Other lesser known falls include:  Cascade Falls, Chilnualna Cascades,  Wapama and Tueeulala Falls.  After the winter snow melt, Yosemite is easily accessible by Hwy. 120 and 140 from the west and Hwy. 120 from the east (Mono Lake Area).  For additional information, contact: Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau or Yosemite National Park.

Just five miles from the south entrance to Yosemite, along the 3.7-mile Lewis Creek Recreational Trail, lies a hidden treasure -- Corlieu Falls.  The trail follows the route of the historical Madera Sugar Pine lumber flume past the 80-foot waterfall, and the smaller Red Rock Falls.  With  no signs to publicize their existence, Corlieu Falls can be enjoyed in a kind of quiet solitude not possible at some of the better known falls. For additional information, contact: Yosemite Experience.

Rainbow Falls Courtesy of Visit MammothOn the eastern side of the Sierra is Rainbow Falls, located in the Inyo National Forest south of Devils Postpile National Monument.  Along a 1.3-mile trail the San Joaquin River plunges 101 feet over volcanic rock into a box canyon.  Multi-colored rainbows are clearly visible in the mist of the mighty falls.  Devils Postpile is a brief walk from parking lots and shuttle stops.  The trail to Rainbow Falls is a short 1-1/4-mile hike from Devils Postpile.

Drive around the Mammoth Lakes Basin -- Lake Mary, Twin Lakes, Mamie, George and Horseshoe (there is no Mammoth Lake).  Spilling down from Lake Mamie west of the town of Mammoth Lakes is Twin Falls, which cascades 300-feet along a granite bed into Twin Lakes.  It can be viewed from the overview at Twin Lakes.  For additional information, contact:  Visit Mammoth.

Located 25 miles east of Oroville, the Feather Falls National Recreation Trail will lead you to 640-feet high Feather Falls.  The trail, located within the 15,000-acre Feather Falls Scenic Area, winds through the foothills 3.8 miles to Feather Falls.  Water flows at Feather Falls are heaviest during the spring months.  

Indian Falls Credit Barbara L. Steinberg 2013The diminutive Indian Falls in the Plumas National Forest is just 20 feet high, but creates a dramatic affect falling on Indian Creek. Large sun-bathed rocks, swimming holes, and sandy shores beckon. The 0.5-mile round-trip hike is easy but can be icy in winter months. Well-placed interpretive panels provide insight into the lives of the Maidu tribes who inhabited the region. Ten miles west of Quincy, the falls are two miles north of the intersection of Highways 70 and 89.  For additional information, contact: Plumas County Tourism Recreation & Hospitality

The Bay Area has been blessed with a number of beautiful water falls.  At a height of 70 feet, Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, may be the Bay Area's most impressive waterfall.  A fairly comfortable hike, take the Skyline to the Sea Trail to the falls and back for an 8-mile round-trip. For additional information, contact:  Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Twenty-five miles from Foresthill in Placer County is Grouse Falls, one of California's most scenic waterfalls.  Cascading down several hundred feet, the falls are hidden at the head of an isolated box canyon.  The falls were largely inaccessible until 1992, when a trail constructed to a deck perched along the canyon wall allowed the falls to be seen.  The trail is an easy, 1/3-mile walk.  The best time for viewing the falls is in the spring when water flows are high. For additional information, contact:  Foresthill Ranger Station at 22830 Foresthill Road or (530) 367-2224 or Visit Placer.

Truly an oasis in the desert is Darwin Falls, with its sparkling stream and year-round 30-foot cascading waterfalls.  Just off Hwy. 190, leading into Death Valley National Park it's an easy half-mile hike to lower Darwin Falls.  Another short hike ends at the rushing waters of the upper falls. In sharp contrast to this water wonderland is Fossil Falls, located 45-minutes north of Ridgecrest.  The trail is a short 1-1/2 mile, round-trip hike and leads to a sculptured and polished 40-foot dry waterfall.  Black lava cliffs were smoothed and shaped over thousands of years by the now-dry Owens River.  The graded dirt access road to Fossil Falls is accessible with a two-wheel drive vehicle. For additional  information, contact:  Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.


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Isabella Corsetry a Sacramento Maker

Isabella  Erin Bray croset designer and maker Credit Jim CoatsErin Bray, Isabella Corsetry designer and maker, was a stay-at-home mom who fell in love with period costumes and architecture. Her passion inspired a foundation collection of extraordinary modern-day and traditional corsets. You don’t have Isabella Corsetry Credit Barbara L Steinberg 2016to be a dedicated tight-lacer, but “waist cinchers” can trim up to 10 inches. Endless combination of fabrics, trims, buttons and bows, patterns are drafted by hand and cut based on real customers. All finish work is under Erin’s careful watch. The well-loved and most popular Josephine “under the bust” corset is ideal for daily wear.

Isabella Corsetry
2311 S St, Sacramento
(916) 612-4075

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