I did not fully take into account all the newspaper accounts hyping up the "2017 California Wildflower SuperBloom".
Normally, we see maybe one or two other cars going through this area. It became clear that this year is different even on the approach road in. Infested with traffic. Infested with people. Cars scattered willy-nilly on the side of the road (or in the road!) wherever people thought there was something to see and they could shoehorn themselves in.
I should mention, infested with flowers too :)
We stopped for lunch at the Soda Lake overlook, and were lucky enough to find an empty bench.
The view in the other direction was unusually good, given the large fields of yellow flowers and the fact that there was actually water in Soda Lake (normally dry).
Same view without the scruffy peoples.
Eventually, we found an obscure dirt road on which to escape the crowds and enjoy the views.
Nim and the Temblor Range.
Small Monster snuck in at the last moment; camera chose the most important element in the picture.
Without the interloper.
It was quite windy. Or maybe this is just teen showing annnoyance at the lack of wi-fi.
Needless to say, there weren't any sites at the first-come-first-serve campgrounds, and while we did find a nice empty spot down a dirt road in the dispersed camping (no services) area, the wind was howling and rain was forecast for the evening, so we kept heading south and found a cheap motel room in Lebec.
Due to this alteration in route, I realized we were going to go right by the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve on our way to Joshua Tree, so we stopped to see the poppies. Word on the web was that the flowers here were a little past their prime, and it was now a weekday, so I figured it wouldn't be as busy as Carrizo was.
Wrong! This park isn't that far from the LA Basin, and it also was a zoo. On the plus side, there were masses of blazing orange poppies on the hills, and the people watching was pretty entertaining too.
I find it funny that normal rules like "No parking here" and "Don't climb the barbed wire fence that marks the edge of the park" just completely broke down in the face of masses of wildflowers. All ages, all races, all levels of fitness, all people with their bizarre LA clothing choices -- everyone was just blithely hopping the barbed wire to get in to the park from the side because the parking lot was full. Most amusing.
Even the ground on the way into Joshua Tree was covered in a blanket of little yellow flowers in between the taller plants. Most scenic.