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I’m been reading Graham Nash’s autobiography, Wild Tales, and of course a lot of it concerns his early love, Joni Mitchel, and I wasn’t going to write about that because the nostalgia bit is pretty heavy and can be a downer to realize again all that time has gone by, all that stardom you missed out on. Rather, I was and am going to write about a walk in the park Nettie and took on Saturday.

What park?

Well, Nettie and I decided to go to Topanga Park in the middle of Topanga Canyon, another place dripping with 60s nostalgia for both of us, but so be it. It’s early spring (yes it is in California anyway!) and the hills are verdant.

The morning was threatening rain as we knew, and when we got up to the park, we found the first park gate entrance was closed. We nearly turned back for home, but instead we continued on up the hill looking for another entrance.

Topanga_State_Park,_Trippet_Ranch_entrance

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We found it and filed in line behind another car who was getting a map explained to him from the park ranger. She was meticulous in her explanations and he, the driver, was apparently either hard of hearing or an idiot because the ranger had to go over the map again and again. That seemed to take about 15 minutes.

As I say, rain was on its way this morning, so we wanted to get in the park and get our walk done before the cloudburst appeared. Finally, the map was put away and the car pulled forward into the lot. We inched up to the ranger.

It was $1o bucks to park. We have a lifetime parking pass for seniors (hence all the nostalgia we’re feeling these days), but turns out the pass is not for this state park, only for National parks. A few drops of rained hit the windshield, so we figured it wasn’t worth $10 bucks for a brief stroll. Besides there’s another park entrance closer to our home with a simple dirt parking lot right off of Topanga Canyon. We decided to head for that.

We get there, make a rather harrowing cross-traffic turn into the dirt lot. We get out of our car and see parking warnings posted with a $250 dollar fine. We search around and finally find the camouflaged, metal self-parking box. It cost $5 bucks to enter the small trail winding off the side of the road. This is a city park, though it looks like standard roadside chaparral to me…the kind of brush and trees I ran through as a kid for free.

But okay, $5 bucks, no problem. The sky seems to have cleared a bit, maybe we can get a walk in after all. I open my wallet. All I’ve got are $20’s and $10’s and three $1 bills. Hmm? It doesn’t seem to make sense to over pay here with $10 bucks or I would’ve (and probably should’ve in retrospect) just paid $10 bucks at the previous park. So now what?

Parking Permit Collections Envelope Cover_325

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Well, Nettie’s smarter than I, and she came up with eight parking-meter quarters in the glove box of our Prius. So we stuffed the pay envelope with the three one dollar bills and the eight quarters, but then we couldn’t find a pencil to fill in our name and license number on the envelope. We rifled through the Prius again and came up with a half-pencil used to keep our golf score…

The tip was broken, naturally, but we finger-picked a new one and Nettie scratched the info onto the envelope. The envelope now was bulky with the quarters stuffed in it and we barely managed to thread it through the narrow slot on the money box without tearing open the envelope.

Whew! This walk in the park seemed to be anything but “a walk in the park”…and that’s when Joni Mitchell came back to me loud and clear singing in my brain:

They took all the trees, and put ’em in a tree museum, and charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em…

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But what are you going to do?

This is the modern world “out here” and we wanted to get “over there” into the natural world…to the trails, to the hills, to the flowers that have come alive in this early spring bloom in Southern California. Hell, we know just how grim the weather is in so much of America, especially the East Coast, and I wanted to say to myself and to my readers that hey, yeah, SE Asia was pretty damn spectacular, but it’s pretty damn spectacular just a few minutes from our house here the Santa Monica Mountains.

So…we…stepped into timeless nature, into the past, into the present, into the future of it all. We disappeared into the morning…

I’ve taken a few pictures of the beauty we found there and I’ll show ’em to you free of charge here in the post, with a link to more at the end.

The early bloomers are the Wild Hyacinth and Wild Mustard, the Bush Sunflower and the Arroyo Lupine.

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click: bush sunflower (with bee)

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click: Moby Dick

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We even saw Moby Dick unconvincingly disguised as a tree.

Many of the other beauties I’ve posted at the link below include: California Poppy, Coyote Mint, Deer Grass, Indian Tobacco, White Sage, California Oak and Sycamore, Western Cottonwood, Manzanita, Yucca, and countless more in the background of the green-green hills of home…

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To see a few more pictures (twenty or so), click this link and visit early spring in the Southern California coastal mountains: A Walk In The Park

 

4 Responses to A Walk In The Park

  1. Frank Z says:

    Thanks, Elyce. Did the picture link work for you?

  2. George says:

    Frank,
    The “Walk in the Park” link brought up an error page.

    Reminded me of walks I took up in Topanga in my late teens/early 20’s taking flower photographs – Beautiful!

    George

  3. Great use of that Joni Mitchell line; lovely humor-filled description of a “walk in the park,” irony and all.

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