A quintessential California weekend

After some weeks of cooler weather and intermittent rain, Chris and I wholeheartedly embraced a weekend of warm sunshine to spend outdoors with friends. Ben and Lisa had flown down from Seattle for Heather and Vinny’s wedding and we hosted a barbecue at our house Friday evening so they could see folks. The portable fire pit came in handy as the temperature dropped and we roasted marshmallows well into the night.

The next day we joined many other friends in Half Moon Bay celebrating Heather and Vinny’s wedding. They found a very unique venue off Yelp — the Long Branch Saloon and Farm, complete with wild West town, knife throwing, panning for gold, casino, and bluegrass band. It was a perfect place for kids, as you might imagine, and not too bad for restless adults either!

On Sunday I finally got to do something I’ve been trying to do ever since I moved out to the bay area: a wildflower hike. Every year, the hillsides erupt in a rainbow of color as the end of the rains and the warmth of the sun coax the wildflowers out of their seeds. Every year, I’ve missed it. The show only lasts a couple months before the dry season sets in and bakes the grass into rippling seas of gold that persist until the next winter. This year, I timed it right.

Ben and Lisa joined us at the top of Skyline at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, one of the bay area’s top wildflower spots. We parked away from the main lot to avoid the crowds and entered the preserve across from Coal Creek. An expansive view across the valley to the Pacific greeted us.

As promised, the meadows were bursting with California poppy, lupine, scarlet pimpernel, buttercups, Johnny jump-ups, fiddlenecks, birds-foot lotus, blue-eyed grass, Ithuriel’s spear, sweet pea, larkspur, phlox, redmaids, and checkerbloom, to name just a few! We took Hawk Trail north across the ridge line, descended down into the valley and back south via Ancient Oaks Trail. We cut back east towards Borel Hill to take in the view over the bay before heading back to the cars for a total hike of about 3.5 miles at a very leisurely pace. We got a bite to eat amid the droves of motorcyclists at the iconic Alice’s down the road before bidding farewell to Ben and Lisa and heading home to enjoy the warm evening on the back porch.

Weekends like these are why I love living in the bay area. :)

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