Travel Muse Press

Food

Imagine a world with no limits...what would you eat? Where would you go to eat? Who would you share these Divine Delights with? ...Read More

Wine

From young root clippings in dry, arduous conditions to fruit bursting with the essence of the surrounding countryside, grapes are cultivated over a long period of time to bring you an explosion of sensory impact...Read More

Art

Where does inspiration come from? Travel has always been a vehicle to carry an artist off in a new direction. Travel, it has been said, purifies the mind, body and soul.Read More

Archive for Activities

Kerala Boats – Travel Through The Intracoastal Waterways By Boat

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled "Kerala Waterway Workers" (c)2017

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled “Kerala Waterway Workers” (c)2017

Kerala boats are unique to the Malabar Coast and dot the intracoastal waterways that lie parallel to the Andaman sea. These boats are a significant part of the local economy as they bring important commercially grown produce such as rice, coconuts, bananas and spices to the coast for distribution. These boats are capable of carrying the equivalent of 3 trucks.

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled "Kerala Waterway Workers" (c)2017

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled “Kerala Waterway Workers” (c)2017

These Kerala boats are called vallams in the Malayalam language, native to Kerala. Vallams are canoes made from local wood called ‘Anjali’ or jack-wood and deeply oiled with a black resin from the kernel of cashews, a locally grown produce. The black silhouette of the canoe on the water is a signature of the waterways. Racing canoes are much longer and can hold up to a hundred oarsmen. These often have more prominent prows with carvings and paint. But it is the common Kerala boat that I loved seeing on the still waters being pulled along by poles and paddles.

 

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Kerala Boat

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Kerala Boat.

These two oil paintings on canvas of Kerala Boats measure 36″ x 18″. The solitary boat moored alongside the river is typical of the boats used to move people and cargo. The oil painting with the two workers transporting wooden planks was captured after sunset on the waterway to Alleppey. We were traveling north on a Government Ferry from Quilon (Kollam) after spending considerable time on Lighthouse Beach in Trivandrum.

Kettuvallam (Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism); Kerala Boat, Houseboat; Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar photography; copyright 2002

Kettuvallam – Converted rice barge moored alongside a rice paddy on the waterway to Alleppey, Kerala India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

 

Kettuvallams are the large houseboats covered in intricate bamboo and palm leaves. Everything is tied together with coir or rope made from coconut fibers. From what I recall, there is not a single nail or screw holding these canoe planks together…just the coir. These larger Kerala boats are in the 60-70′ length with a 15′ beam. The houseboats are converted barges and designed for the tourist industry. The pace is slow and leisurely, which is ideal for anyone birdwatching, photographing the local riverscape or wishing to just take in the journey and relax all day long and night.

Kerala Waterways are hot, humid and immensely beautiful under the blazing Indian sun. It is easy to spot kingfishers, sea eagles, water snakes and water rats. Fish jump and birds skim the surface seeking insects.

Along the shore people wash dishes, shower or bathe. Bamboo outhouses line the river. The waters are brackish. Salt water from the sea doesn’t penetrate the intracoastal waters due to a natural and artificially supported breakwater. The lakes, lagoons and rivers are fed by mountain streams inland.

At night, just after sunset, women in a stunning array of jewel tones sarees walk single file along the river. The rich color against the palm frond backdrop is perfectly reflected in the silvery water is simply beautiful to behold.

Kerala boats; women in sarees along the Kerala waterways India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Kerala boats; women in sarees along the Kerala waterways India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Kerala boat: Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Scenic Kerala Waterways at sun down. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Scenic Kerala Waterways at sun down. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Hotel Del – Coronado Island, San Diego – 2012 Christmas Tree

Visiting some of the more famous trees at Christmas time is such a pleasure. Click the tree several times to see the full image and zoom in on some of the decor. Happy Holidays, everyone!

This is a photo of the main Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hotel Del, Coronado Island, San Diego, CA.

Hotel Del Christmas Tree 2012

Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada – Fun Stuff I Saw

Inside the hotel, there are numerous areas that have been decorated in a fantastical manner. The artsy touches and designs change with the season and are always spectacular, designed to be whimsical and take one’s breath away. As my visit coincided with Mother’s Day and Springtime, the presentation was along the lines of “April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?” –the answer might surprise you. Take a look!

Handpainted umbrellas with large colorful poppies hang upside down from wires in an artistic show, under the glass ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Icelandic Poppy Painted Umbrellas Overhead

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas hanging from various wires in the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Poppies always delight the eye

This is a photo of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas in detail as they hang from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Seriously, what's not to love?

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas as viewed through an archway into a garden.

I want to have cocktails under these umbrellas!

This is a photo of the garden scene behind the concierge desk at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Maybe after a few cocktails I'd feel like Alice...

This is a photo of large planters with flowers tucked into a large fountain basin at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Genius! No need to throw out your old fountain, stuff it full of planters. But make sure they've had a few cocktails first.

This is an image of a vintage Schwinn bicycle resting against a ticket booth in a flower bed inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino Conservatory of Flowers, as part of an artistic display.

No locks needed

This is a photo of the heron bird sculptures made from moss, seashells and paint inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Bigger than life herons

This is an image of a floral sculpture at the Conservatory in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Floral Sculpture or Floral Painting?

This is a detail of the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

All I could think of when I saw this masterpiece was, "Wow!"

This is a photo of the painting referenced by the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

The floral sculpture is inspired by this painting by David Hockney. The original is inside the Bellagio Hotel in the Fine Art Gallery.

This is a detail of the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Someone gets an "A+" for artistic cleverness. How I wish it was me...

This is a photo of a handcrafted butterfly that hangs from the ceiling inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Butterfly Magic!

This is a photo of a large pink butterfly resting against a handcrafted tree inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Butterflies are best seen from a distance. Up close, they are quite creepy.

This is a photo of a handcrafted tree with pink blossoms and butterflies inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Blossoms and Butterfly...how much more enchantment can a person handle?

This is a photo of my daughter Arabella inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Arabella inside the Bellagio Conservatory

Urban Foraging in San Diego, CA – “Annie’s Rose Canyon Wild Mustard”

My friend and neighbor, Kieth Beatty, who is a retired biochemist, causally invited me to go pick mustard down the street in Rose Canyon here in San Diego. What a strange idea, I thought at first, then I got excited about the notion of a short hike into the canyon down the street from where we live. I’m not a big mustard fan, but I was game to try my hand at foraging in Nature; after all, 2012 is right around the corner and maybe it’s time I learn a thing or two about living off the land…heh-heh…and to learn what the expression “it doesn’t cut the mustard” means.
Watch Kieth cut the mustard!

This is a photo of mustard growing in Rose Canyon Mustard, San Diego, CA.

Keith contemplating where to start picking.

This is a photo of Kieth Beatty picking mustard flowers in Rose Canyon, San Diego, CA.

30 minutes of picking yields about 5 oz. of mustard.

At 8AM we marched down the street with brown paper bags in hand and Keith began educating me on mustard. It’s been in the human diet for as long as scientists and researchers can determine. It has few predators, snails for one, and returns each year.

Mustard stems are delicate and when they die back, the stem is fragile and breaks easily. If something couldn’t cut the mustard, it was generally useless as a tool.

This is a photo of wild mustard growing in San Diego, CA.

The patch of mustard flowers I harvested.

Keith tends to think in terms of anti-aging, antioxidants, vitamins and getting enough natural stuff in his diet to be healthy.  He looks at plants for their concentrated goodness as only Nature can provide. In particular, he seeks out sources of lutein which is a yellow pigment found in fruits, veggies and other plants like mustard which are critical for the well being of the eyes. A mere 6 mg of lutein per day is all you need to greatly reduce your risk of macular degeneration. Why not have healthy eyes?

This is a photo of the mustard plant.

Mustard Up Close and Personal

Mustard is delicate and the flowers and seeds at the top of the stem are lovely and soft. It is easy to pinch them off and just as easy to harvest the large spiky leaves at the bottom. Most animals won’t touch mustard as it is bitter. Humans have figured out that adding vinegar to the leaves neutralizes the bitterness and makes the greens palatable. Most gourmet mustard today has wine vinegar in them and today I used a white wine vinegar from Italy to make my mustard.

This is a photo of the nettles we crushed getting to the mustard.

Crushed Nettles; Collateral Damage in Rose Canyon.

To get close to the mustard we had to trample young nettles. At least, Keith and I think these are nettles. They’ve taken over the field we were in and according to Keith have taken over the area where he has harvested mustard blossoms in previous years. I did read in Wikipedia that a mustard seed can survive up to 60 years underground if it is at the right depth and somehow, I think this patch will make a comeback. And for all you urban foragers out there, this area has enough nettles to feed an army.

This is a photo of nettles from the point of view of my knee.

Young Nettles about to burst into bloom.

This is a photo of a yellow nettle flower.

Yellow is always the color to warn you of danger.

This is a photo of a glass bowl full of freshly picked, bright yellow mustard flowers.

WARNING: Hot, spicy mustard flowers!

This is a photo of the ingredients in my mustard flower recipe.

This is just guesswork for me: I read the ingredients on a jar of store bought mustard and am leading the way with courage and confidence!


At the risk of sounding redundant, here is my:

“MUSTARD FLOWER MUSTARD” RECIPE:
3 cloves raw garlic
1 tablespoon turmeric (for flavor, color, health)
1 tablespoon coriander powder with cumin in it 1 to 1 ratio
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
6-8 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 huge handfuls of fresh picked mustard flowers

In a food processor, put the vinegar, spices and garlic and pulse it until it is minced fine. Add a handful of flowers at a time until all flowers are minced into the seasoning before adding water a little bit at a time. NOTE: The mustard is rough, not smooth. This is a high fiber mustard in case you were wondering.

This is a photo of a mini-food chopper with mustard making ingredients in it.

Step 1: Garlic, Spices, Salt and Vinegar

The turmeric will stain plastic and silicon spatulas so use old ones if you care about staining your kitchen ware. I used a mini food chopper for the task and it was perfectly fine.

This is a photo of mustard flowers in a food processor with spices.

Add a handful of flowers at a time and pulse.

This is an image of a food processor with ground spices and mustard flowers in it.

Don't be scared. Something good can still come out of this. Just add water.

Outcome: I’m not sure if this is edible or not. I lifted the lid to my mini-chopper and the way the scent hit my brain can only be described as a pick axe that was suddenly inserted up my nose with intent to split my brain in two. The intense burning in my sinuses only served to make me take a step backwards and say, “Whoa!” On exhale, my sinuses relaxed and I stopped for a moment to consider the following: store bought mustard is over processed; this is undiluted mustard flowers, picked two hours ago in Nature. Old fashioned plasters and poultices for chest colds and coughs came to mind and the medicinal smell that singed my nostril’s mucosal lining made me race over to my computer to search the internet on mustard flower for warnings and recipes. Guess what? There are no recipes for “mustard made from mustard flowers” that I could find in a reasonable amount of time. That was a bit unnerving. There are books for sale with foraging recipes, but overall a few pages in to this subject and I was done with research.

Basically, mustard flowers aren’t toxic and they won’t kill me. I moved on to storing it. There is one tool in my kitchen, besides the power tools, that I just LOVE and can’t do without: a wide mouth funnel. Treat yourself to one and let it be your forever-kitchen-friend.

This is a photo of a Kerr jar with a metal wide mouth funnel on it.

Wide mouth funnels are in my top ten kitchen items to love.

There are countless sites stating that mustard flowers are edible and have been used in love potions, salads and garnishes and even given as gifts to symbolize spring and abundance. Some sites remind us to be careful because some people are highly allergic to mustard. Other sites tell delightful and charming stories of how paths were created by explorers to use in the springtime to return from whence they came.

This is a photo of the jar of mustard I produced from the flowers I found in Rose Canyon.

Annie's Rose Canyon Wild Mustard

This wild mustard is down right SPICY HOT! Think horseradish. My mouth was on fire from just a little teeny-tiny taste. I’m not prone to getting hysterical when my mouth is on fire from the occasional chili pepper in food, and in fact, I do enjoy a bit of heat in my food…but this…this was off the charts hot. This reminded me of the spicy hot Chinese mustard that I don’t enjoy because it is just too hot for my liking.

In the end, I am thrilled that I foraged and made something unusual and gourmet.  I will make sure that everyone who visits my home gets a taste of my first batch of homemade garlic and white wine vinegar mustard.

So, be honest with me: Is this something you would make and eat? I’d like to know.

Port San Pedro – ‘The Thing’ aka ‘The Quarter Million Dollar Mistake’

At the corner of West 7th Street and South Centre Street, next to Portside Cleaners, in Port San Pedro is a strange sight.  “It” doesn’t have a name that we could determine but it has a story.  According to some locals, this gizmo-gadget senses your every move and it follows your movements when you walk by…when it works. The locals we spoke to about this gizmo-gadget say that it was (or is) some architect’s far-out idea of “cool, fun, modern sculpture” but no one there seems to appreciate the suggested $200+k price tag it came with. It’s been broken for some time and there is no sign of it getting fixed.

This is a photo of a gizmo-gadget in Port San Pedro that the locals scoff at.

Gizmo Gadget Thang-a-Ma-Bob

This is a close up photo of the gizmo gadget in Port San Pedro, CA.

It looks like the high intensity lamp in the name Pixar Studios.

This is a photo of the red top on the gizmo gadget in Port San Pedro, CA.

Oh, thank God it's not looking right now!

This is a photo of Anand standing in front of the gizmo gadget in Port of San Pedro, CA.

Height reference: Anand is almost 6' tall

Terranea Resort – Birds of Prey

Q: How do you keep seagulls where they belong and off the rooftops and chaise lounges at a highend resort along the beach near Los Angeles, CA?

A: An owl. One huge, specially-trained, Eurasian eagle owl that has been raised in captivity so that it keeps normal/daytime working hours AND scares the crap out of any trespassing seagull within a mile of this posh five-star resort.

Paul, a professional bird-of-prey handler from Aerial Solutions, works on site at Terranea Resort with the owl and special guests American Kestrel and Harris Hawk that have been trained specifically for bird abatement. It’s the ole “fighting fire with fire” approach and it works remarkably well.

In one year, one owl convinced thousands of seagulls to keep off 100+ acres of land and to forage from the sea and beach –and not for french fries up at the bistro atop the bluff.

Get a look at this owl! I’d be flying in the opposite direction, too, if I were a seagull! The birds of prey are flown almost everyday to make the seagulls think that the owl (or hawks) own the area.

This is a photo of an Eagle Owl at Terranea Resort Palos Verde, CA.

Eagle Owl at Terranea Resort

This is a photo of the claws of an Eagle Owl.

Yes, your Majesty, I'll forage on the sea and at the foot of your cliffs where I belong.

This is a photo of an Eagle Owl's plumage.

This is a photo of Paul, the Eagle Owl handler at Terranea Resort, Palos Verde, CA.

Paul and the Eagle Owl

This is a photo of the Eagle Owl at Terranea Resort. It is the largest owl in the world.

"I'm number one! I'm number one!"

This is a photo of Paul and the Eagle Owl talking to a group of people.

The American Harris Hark (below) will keep any small rodent population down with ease. These hawks are really cooperative hunters and native to the southwestern United States. These hawks are the easiest to train and often a favorite in falconry. They usually hunt in packs of three to six in the wild which is quite a rare trait.  Some will scout out the food while the others come in for the kill and trap the animal. At Terranea Resort, a favorite food is rabbit which would do major damage to the landscaping if allowed in. Those pesky rabbits!

This is a photo of a bird of prey visiting Terranea Resort, Palos Verde, CA.

Ha, ha! I'll have you for breakfast you pesky little rabbit.

This is a photo of a bird of prey's head.

I'm going to count to three, seagull, and if you aren't gone from here, I'm going to feed you to my children!

Along with his pals the owl and hawk is the American Kestrel Hawk (below). You may know it as a sparrow hawk or ‘the smallest falcon’, but they are serious hunters. They keep the mice, lizard, grasshopper and small birds away from Terranea Resort.

This is a photo of a small bird of prey at Terranea Resort, Palos Verde, CA.

Hey! Don't underestimate me. I may be small, but I will rip your head off and eat you for lunch!

If I were a small lizard, I think I’d find somewhere else to bask in the sun than the lovely stucco walls of Terranea.

“The Flower Fields” in Carlsbad, CA – Part III

This is a photo of a sign on the ground in a flower bed announcing that you are in "The Flower Fields" of Carlsbad, CA.

Welcome to The Flower Fields

I didn’t see this sign in the flower bed until we were almost exiting The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA; and I always take photos of signage in the event that I might want to create a scrapbook of a trip (Hey, it might happen, you never know!), create something like a colorful invitation for someone to join me at that place, or remember my day by.

There were other things besides flowers that I will never forget from this first trip to the flower fields. My two year old daughter’s enjoyment of the flowers; my friend’s (Ralph and Marjorie) joy as they knew I would be happy here and in my element among the rows of flowers; my mother-in-law (Sheela) who enjoys gardening and how her mind was blown by the sheer scale of the fields; and, last by not least, these three monks (below) who I now refer to as The Lemonade Tasters.

This is a photo of three Asian monks in long brown gowns drinking lemonade. Behind them is a fiberglass shack shaped like a lemon that measures 15 by 20 feet.

The Lemonade Tasters

The Flower Fields are generally seen from a distance in broad stroke of solid color. There is no detail. There is nothing to indicate what it is that you are looking at. The impression of solid color is down right stunning. What could possibly do this? Who thought of it?

This is a photo of a man working in The FlowerFFields of Carlsbad, CA. He is positioned between two very large grower beds of yellow and orange flowers.

Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow

This is a photo of a row of dark purple ranunculus next to a row of sunset colored ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Between the rows of Ranunuculus

Upon getting closer, the eye slowly adjusts to take in the details of the beds, the dirt paths and drainage rows that separate the flowerbeds for the workers to walk and the tractors to drive on. The rows that have bloomed or peaked and the rows about to bloom. The quantity of each plant by color is the next thing that registers in the brain and believe it or not, it’s stunning how quickly your eye can find the rogue plants that don’t belong. A yellow Ranunculus growing in among the pink ones…how did that get there?

This is a photo of a row of pink ranunculus next to a row of yellow ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Rows of Ranunculus Color

Sometimes there is the urge to just see one plant (and not every member of its family or extended family). Then it’s like a moment of meditation; focus within the experience happens and all else ceases to distract or cause awe. With each glance through the lens of my camera, I focused and honored the beauty before me. Whether is was on the many stems or the deep center of the flower, it was so peaceful to simply be in the flower fields communing with the plants.

This is a photo of a row of multicolored ranunculus next to a row of red ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Multicolored Ranunculus (Multicolors growing on one plant)

Some of these are favorites simply because of the color, shape, texture, patterns or lighting. I hope you enjoy the colors as much as I did!

This is a photo of a peach ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Peach Ranunculus

This is a photo of a pink ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Pink Ranunculus

This is a photo of a white ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

White Ranunculus

This is a photo of a bouquet of white ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

White Ranunculus in a bouquet

This is a photo of cut ranunculus in a white bucket.

Fresh Cut Ranunculus

One day, when I have time, I will paint something from The Flower Fields and post it here for your enjoyment. In the meantime, make an Artist Date with yourself for March or April and buy your ticket online before heading over to the fields for an hour or two of beauty, inspiration, awe and tranquility. You deserve it!

“The Flower Fields” in Carlsbad, CA – Part II

This is a photo of red ranunculus at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Red Ranunculus

Giant Tecolote Ranunculas are in great abundance at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA. In my earlier post (Part I), I went over the features and now I just want to post about the other flowers and show how they are arranged since gardening is one of my favorite past times. The oil painter and photographer in me goes wild with excitement at the massive opportunities to be creative with the vibrant images I brought home with me from the fields. I’ve made plenty of greeting cards from my images and my brain is reeling from the Impressionistic paintings that could be created from the flowers in the landscape.

Here my favorite Artist’s Garden Project photos below.

This is a photo of the artist's garden in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Blooms in the Artist's Garden

This is a photo of the artist's garden in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Artist's Garden - Raised Flower Beds in Bloom

This is a photo of the artist's garden in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Behind the Picket Fence

This is a photo of yellow and orange Nasturtiums.

Nasturtium

This is a photo of red Gazanias.

Red Gazanias

This is a photo of miniature, yellow daisy plants.

Miniature Yellow Daisy

This is a photo of miniature red-pink diasy plants.

Up close, in a large bed of miniature red-pink daisy plants.

This is a photo of miniature lavender daisy plants.

Of the millions of daisy heads before me, these little ones are getting their 15 seconds of fame.

Do you have a favorite flower? If so, what is it and what makes it so special for you?

“The Flower Fields” in Carlsbad, CA – Part I

This is a photo of a golden ranunculus.

Gold Ranunculus

In San Diego’s north county region, there is a glorious spectacle that comes only once a year each Spring. The growing fields, a full fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus,  start blooming in waves under warm southern California sunshine around the first of March like clockwork.

The Flower Fields, face the Pacific Ocean just east of Highway 5. Getting there is very easy from The Five and parking is free. The fields offer more than just show stopping Ranunculus; they have a miniature rose garden, an artist garden that changes every year, a Sweet Pea maze, tractor ride to the top of the field, a children’s playground featuring the darling play structures from the old Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead, the world famous Ecke poinsettia collection for history buffs and believe it or not, you can pan for gold on site.

This is a photo collage of some Sweet Pea flowers taken at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

As an oil painter witnessing the fields, my first thoughts went to Holland and the images I have seen of their Tulips…and there is no comparison! There is no way Holland could ever capture such a dazzling display of color due to the structure of tulips which only has one flower per bulb (unless it has become irregular).  Tulips provide a pale green background for “spot color” which can become more dramatic depending on the viewing angle. Tulips displays often use harmonizing ground covers such as Pansy and Johnny-Jump-Ups to hide the dirt between bulbs. Ranunculus, in contrast, have multiple sprays of flowers per plant which accounts for the broad sweeping strokes of color on the hillsides.

This is a photo of yellow Tulips in Golden Gate Park, SF, CA.

Tulips in Golden Gate Park, SF, CA

From a distance, the flowers merge into horizontal stripes of fantastic length. Part of me was hesitant to visit The Flower Fields it seemed too touristy, contrived, paying to walk through someone’s flower business seemed overrated –and ten bucks to roam around dirt roads near The Five? ….yeah! Well, it was the best bang ever for ten bucks! Guess who will be buying a visitor pass in 2011 so I can return with family and friends multiple times it’s that incredible!

This is a photo of the ranunculus growing in rows at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Broad Strokes of Color at The Flower Fields.

I took over three hundred photos that day with my digital camera. I did not want to leave but I was a guest and had my daughter and mother-in-law with me this day and I was holding up lunch plans. There is no need to rush once you are inside The Flower Fields and I recommend that you come early when the light is good for photography. Of my photos, I can’t say I have one favorite, no, I have at least 20 to 30 favorites! Each time you think you have found a beautiful shot of the fields, you turn to the other side of the road between growing beds and discover something else equally beautiful.

This is a photo of cut ranunculus in a white bucket.

Fresh Cut Ranunculus

I felt ALIVE out there amongst the beauty of these flowers. The ocean breeze was delightful and fresh.

The workers appear to be from Mexico and are mindful of their work. They ignore the tourist and actually add to your photos in a way you probably never imagined…let’s go back to Holland for a moment. Remember all those beautiful 15th through 19th century oil paintings of people cultivating the land? For example, Piet van der Velden’s “Workers in the Fields With Tulips” shows two figures planting tulip bulbs in the empty fields. Workers have always been featured in oil paintings and photos. Here are my visions of a modern day painting of workers in a field:

This is a photo of workers in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Like an oil painting of days gone by: "Workers in The Flower Fields"

This is a photo of workers and a truck in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

The Flower Field Workers

This is a photo of workers and tourists in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Workers and Tourists Mingle in The Flower Fields

The Santa’s Village playground equipment and structures adds more to the play area for children and makes for great photo opportunities.

This is a photo collage of some of the playground equipment from Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead that was sold to The Flower Fields of Carlsbad, CA.

Santa's Village Playground - Photo Collage

Here is my daughter smelling a flower.

This is a photo of a little girl smelling a flower.

Arabella

The dazzling array of colors from white, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and chocolate brown is best seen in person.

Dazzling, Colorful Ranunculus at The Flower Fields

Make sure your camera battery is charged and put it on your calendar for March 1, 2011. The Flower Fields are not open very long –just as long as the flowers are blooming which may be anywhere from 45 days to 60 days.

-Annie

Warner Valley Springs Near Chester, Plumas County, CA

This is a photo of the springs just north of Chester in Plumas County, CA.

Tranquil Pond of Artesian Spring Water

On a tip from a local, we headed up a side road off Main Street in Chester to taste some Artesian spring water that was reportedly 10,000 years old and unbelievably delicious. It was also rumored that it had curative powers.

When given directions, we were told to drive west and hang a right before the firehouse and just keep going. We would know when we reached the place. Look for this sign (not the guys; they’ll be back at their desks wishing they were in front of the sign):

This is a picture of city folk disguised as Mountain People.

Flatlanders disguised as Mountain People

Up for adventure we all agreed to give it a shot. It was supposed to be less than ten miles and we decided we would drive in no more than ten miles and if nothing appeared, we would turn back. We looked at our odometers and set off.

This is a photo of Anand at the wheel of our F250 taken from the dashboard and my mom sitting in the back seat of the crew cab.

Flatlander Trucking - F250 Crewcab Lariat Package 4x4

The drive is easy for the first few miles and then the last three wind around. Given that we visited in the last days of summer, the scenery along the road was dry and barren. Red pine needles, dried by the sun lay on the ground.

Then a most startling change took place. The entire area turned lush and green. There was no mistaking that we were at our destination and I am sure it was only seven miles north of Chester on the Chester Warner Valley Road.

This is a photo of the spring water run off into a creek that will join the Feather River in Chester, Plumas County, CA.

Verdant Surprise

Verdant green was everywhere you looked and a tribute to the vast amounts of pure, mineral rich artesian waters. No wonder people believe it has curative powers!

The sun was high in the sky when we arrived and we were hot! We drank from the pipe the Boy Scouts had installed years before so people could fill their bottles from a pure source piped from below ground rather than the pond where animals drink and defecate. The water was crisp, cool, delicious and thirst quenching. It was impossible to leave this magical spot in the middle of the forest and we delayed leaving.

This is a photo of a pipe with a 90 degree fitting in it that provides clean artesian well water from deep in the spring near Chester, Plumas County, CA.

Blue Gold From Down Under

By doing so, we were treated to a rare view of a doe that came into our presence and nibbled the leaves on the slope next to us.

This is a photo of a deer listening to sounds before eating some leaves near the spring north of Chester in Plumas County, CA.

Oh! Deer!

Funny man, Paul had to create a visual pun.

This is a picture of a man in dark sunglasses with a bald head holding a stem of a large dandelion weed flower in his mouth as if he was smoking a cigarette.

Smokin'...

While my mom made wishes.

This is a photo of a woman making a wish with a dandelion.

Wait! I'm thinkin'...

Ironically for this Flatlander, I bought a two and a half gallon water storage unit on the way back to camp this day and ought to have done things in reverse as I would have loved to have had that spring water for the drive home the following day…something for next time!

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