Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where
On Wednesday April 10th, we motored north from Santee Lakes Recreation Area to South Carlsbad State Beach in Carlsbad, CA. The campground was nearly full even though it was mid week. It’s a long narrow campground hugging the cliffs above the ocean and the road runs between the ocean-side and the street-side campsites. It’s not wide and we encountered a newbie in a trailer who almost got stuck next to us but with some jockeying he got by and we proceeded on to our spot. We backed in (as usual) which gave us a nice ocean view from our dining room windows.

South Carlsbad State Beach

There were high surf warning so there weren’t any surfers out but it sure was pretty.

We set up camp, had lunch and relaxed a while. Then I went out for a walk.

The pink ice plant was in bloom.

Pink Ice plant

As was the yellow.

Yellow Ice plant

And across the main drag from our end of the park you could see huge swathes of yellow flowers. I don’t know what they were but they sure were lovely.

Carlsbad yellow flowers

When I got back I had to take another shot of the beach looking south.

South Carlsbad State Beach

Just about dinner time the sun began to sink into the ocean to the west.

Carlsbad sunset

It always surprises me that it doesn’t sizzle as it disappears.

Carlsbad sunset

The next morning the high surf warning had been lifted and we had surfers by the score out.

Carlsbad surfers

We were at the high point of the cliffs and the pelicans swooped by all the time. After many tries I managed to get of shot of them coasting by.

Pelicans in flight

Mid morning we headed north just a few miles to The Flower Fields, a wonderful 27 year old Carlsbad tradition. Nestled in between an outlet mall (which wasn’t there 10 years ago when we first visited), an Armstrong Nursery (which is open all year long) and various hotels and housing tracts is 50 acres of agricultural land. Nearly all of it is dedicated to growing Tecolote Giant Ranunculus. These flowers were developed here and they grow nearly the entire worlds supply of seed and bulbs here.

The parking lot and the entry area are filled with Martha Washington and scented geraniums.  
Geraniums Carlsbad

There was a small farm stand selling HUGE strawberries.

Starwberries Carlsbad

Once through the gate we made our way through the formal gardens where there were lovely delphinium in bloom.

Delphinium Carlsbad

They have an antique tractor drawn wagon ride that will take you to the top of the flower fields and then you can walk back down the hill viewing the flowers as you go. You get a nice view of the fields as you go—and yes some folks just ride the entire loop and call it good.

Flower Fields Carlsbad

The Tecolotes come in 13 colors.      

Flower Fields Carlsbad

The purple/wine colored flowers at at the top of the hill followed by the red and pinks and oranges.

Flower Fields Carlsbad

We got off the tram up at the top and I stopped and took a photo of the antique tractor and it’s driver.

Antique Tractor tram Carlsbad

Then we walked along the top for a while and I tried to capture it all.

The Flower Fields Carlsbad

Capturing Walter and the flowers was much easier.

Walter Cooke The Flower Fields

At this point the heavy clicking of the camera ensued. FLOWERS!

Violet Tecolote Ranunculus Violet Tecolote Ranunculus
Red Tecolote Ranunculus Red Tecolote Ranunculus
Dark Pink  
Dark Pink Tecolote Ranunculus Dark Pink Tecolote Ranunculus
Orange Tecolote Ranunculus Orange Tecolote Ranunculus
And rows of what looked like mixes ready to make a bouquet.

Flower Fields

My guess is that these pink-edged whites were a sport of some sort.  
PInk Tecolote Ranunculus

Peach Tecolote Ranunculus Peach Tecolote Ranunculus
Deep Yellow  
Yellow Tecolote Ranunculus Yellow Tecolote Ranunculus
Lemon Yellow  
Lemon Yellow Tecolote Ranunculus  

And rows and rows of flowers

And rows and rows of flowers

With Walter blooming in amongst them.

Walter Cooke The Flower Fields

The reds give way to pink and then to oranges.

The Flower Fields

And then the yellows give way to whites. There were lovely ladies dressed up and having the pictures taken all over the place.

The Flower Fields

White Tecolote Rananculus Whte Tecolote Ranunculus
And then came the rows of mixed pinks and pastels.

The Flower Fields

Pink Tecolote Rananculus Pink Tecolote Rananculus

And then there was an antique tractor cordoned off from the fields so you could climb on it and have your picture taken. Walter went first.

Walter Cooke The Flower Fields

And then he took a picture of me.

Sara Schurr The Flower Fields

Past the pastel pinks came a burgundy and orange mix.

The Flower Fields

And then a cheery bolder mix.

The Flower Fields

Once again these looked like bouquets ready to be picked.

The Flower Fields

We were down at the bottom of the fields now and there were huge beds of nasturtiums in bloom opposite the fields.


As we walked along the bottom of the fields there were more flowers in all sorts of lovely colors.


Picotee Tecolote Rananculus

Double white

Double white Tecolote Rananculus

Double rose

Double rose Tecolote Rananculus

Double Peach

Double peach Tecolote Rananculus

Pale peach

Pale peach Tecolote Rananculus

And lavender

Lavender Tecolote Rananculus

We strolled back into the formal gardens where there were huge beds of geraniums.

Geraniums The Flower Fields

And Walter found a bench.

Walter Cooke The Flower Fields

Armstrong Nursery is kind of the granddaddy of the rose nurseries of Southern California. Back in 1951 there was a big Armstrong Rose Nursery in Montebello and he bought the roses for his big rose bed there. They were a grower but they left Montebello when the smog got too bad in the mid 51’s.

They have a Rose Demonstration Garden here associated with the nursery out front. And the roses were in bloom.   
Yellow Rose Yellow Rose
Can you smell them?  
Orange rose Orange rose
Maybe just a little?  
White rose  

After one last shot of yet another huge bed of geraniums we made out way back to the truck.

Geraniums The Flower Fields

The ocean was waiting for us when we got back.

South Carlsbad State Beach

Later in the afternoon, while Walter took his nap, I took a walk down to the ramp that leads to the beach.  

South Carlsbad State Beach

The beach on this end of the park is pretty much a giant pile of tumbled rocks. When we camped on the northern end there was sand and I assume it’s still there. There was one lone family out playing in the water—the air temperature was pleasant but the water was cold.

Family playing in ocean

I had a great time taking photos of the lovely smooth rocks.

Beach rocks

I slid/stumbled my way down the great shifting shelf of rocks to waters edge.   

South Carlsbad State Beach

And chased the foam for a while.

South Carlsbad State Beach

And it chased me back up the rocks a few times too.

South Carlsbad State Beach

I wandered down the beach for a while clicking away at the rocks.

Beach rocks

And then stumbled and slid my way back up the shelf and up the ramp.

We had another super sunset. This time there was a bit of a fog bank out to sea and I thought the sun might just sink into it.

Sunset Carlsbad

But it kept on going painting the ocean orange.

Sunset Carlsbad

In this closer shot you can see the line of clouds across the sun.

Sunset Carlsbad

But the clouds never swallowed the sinking sun.

Sunset Carlsbad

Instead, it just slid into the sea.

Sunset Carlsbad

The next morning we packed up and motored south along I-5 and picked up I-8 east which we took back to Tacna and the Copper Mountain RV Park where we’d stayed the week before on our way to San Diego.

Then on Saturday April 13th, we drove the last 200 miles back to our home in Sahuarita.

We spent the last two weeks in April getting ready for our summer travels. On Wednesday May 1st, we head out for a three-plus week trip through NE Arizona and SW Utah—Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Hovenweep, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Lake Powell. Then we’ll loop back to Show Low for 4 months camping at Juniper Ridge RV Resort.