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Summer’s ending flurry of fun

August 16, 2014
Neck and neck turkey racing at the Orange County Fair

Yes, these runners are barefoot!

Our county fair ended last weekend, but not before I snuck over for a quick afternoon of agricultural nostalgia, including a new attraction: turkey racing. I was glad to see they had not imprisoned the running birds in any kind of “high performance” or “protective” footwear.

footprint near eviction site

This print has a special meaning to me; I was able to hike a short loop trail near the 1875 eviction site in Temecula, where People who had lived with the land for thousands of years were rounded up and removed, since they could not prove via paper deeds that they had a claim to the land. Here are a few more images from there:

buckwheat and grape leaves

The morning sun lit up the California buckwheat (foreground) and wild grape (back right) so fabulously. My little pocket camera did not do it justice, but we tried . . .

tarweed from under

The tarweeds are Calfornia native wildflowers that I especially admire for their ability to bloom and look cheerful at the end of summer, in the hottest, driest time of the year.

thrasher temecula

A Crissal thrasher . . . a creature I had not yet seen before. In Orange County we have California thrashers, which lack the reddish “undertail covert or crissum.” In fact, I had thought this was a common California towhee (“old rusty-butt”), but then I spotted that fabulous curved bill.

oak at temecula creek

Great oaks . . . it always awes me to think of all the creatures they have watched go by in their hundreds of years of planted life.

While in Temecula, I also was able to hike a short ways up the Dripping Springs trail just south of town on Hwy. 79. Not much water, but excellent views out over the valley, and a fluffy velvet ant (really a wingless wasp) in my foot vicinity. Yeah, yeah, I know these critters are nicknamed “cowkillers” for their excruciating sting. But that’s why I hike with my eyes open . . . and I haven’t stepped on a stinging critter yet . . . 

velvet ant and toes

Moving from Temecula back to the Orange County foothills . . . there are fine oaks here too, and good folks who enjoy hiking out to see them, like this group in Baker Canyon last week on an Irvine Ranch Conservancy sunset hike.

baker canyon hiking group

Back to my more familiar trails . . . I’ve had some good runs in my Santiago Oaks-Barham Ridge-Irvine Park network lately. The summer dust is soft, and the rocks are kind this time of year (for some reason, right after rains the rocks seem much more angular). This morning I saw a multi-pointed buck (no photo, just a breath of admiration), and tiny lizard babies out in force.

As always, I try to pick up whatever trash I find . . . except when it presents itself in cozy situations such as this:

trash in poison oak

Those excruciatingly delicate multi-colored leaves are poison oak, so I had to leave this nasty plastic crap under the oak where some excruciatingly idiotic person tossed it. I keep meaning to purchase (and hike with) and telescoping trash picker . . . just for situations like this. 

So it’s back to teaching on Monday . . . what an adventure-filled summer. I had to bail on my 50k race, but still have hopes that one of these days, my body will tell me “let’s go” and I can enjoy an ultra run. In the meantime: I am running 60-90 minutes (up and down hills) easily, shoelessly. That’s a lot to be thankful for . . . 

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