More Lemonade Days

 Stopping to Enjoy Spring

Today we chase more sights of Spring – new life, new color, new views, new hope of renewal – at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in Murrieta.


This is my favorite picture of all:


Look at theses puddles of tadpoles!


And the mountains with their shrinking snow caps…


Lesson learned today…

Love life. It’s only because of these rocky times that we can fully enjoy standing in the sun.

Walking in Sunshine… Santa Rosa Plateau Part II

image Several weeks later we return to check out the vernal pools and historic adobes.

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Vernal pools:

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These shallow pools fill up temporarily from winter to spring. The presence of fairy shrimp and other minute crustaceans, laying eggs and hatching, define these pools as vernal. (en.m.wikipedia. org)


Our trek to the adobe houses takes us through grassland prairie, coastal sage scrub, and oak woodlands.

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These 2 buildings are the oldest structures in Riverside County, CA. The Moreno adobe was constructed in 1845 for Juan Moreno’s crew of cowboys whose task was to herd cattle through the Santa Rosa plateau.

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According to an 1846 map, the adobe consisted of 4 rooms and sat upon 48,000 acres known as the Santa Rosa Rancho. Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of the California territory, granted this land to Juan Moreno. In 1884 a severe winter storm washed away 3 of these rooms. In 1885 the US Attorney General challenged the right of Moreno to own these lands. Unable to afford the court fees, Moreno sold the Santa Rosa Rancho to Agustin Machado in August of this same year. The price was $1,000 plus $500 worth of cattle. Machado built the larger adobe for his ranch hands in 1885.

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A 400 hundred-year-old tree shades this area and a quaint picnic area separates the adobe bunkhouses.

(Except for pictures, information above comes from the Santa Rosa Plateau web site at rivcoparks.org) 


We head back via the Adobe Loop Trail that leads us on a picturesque hike.

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We even experience a tenaja!

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Riparian wetlands are low lying areas where gravity accumulates pools of water called tenajas. (rivcoparks.com)


Captured Candids of Cute Critters:

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Noisy crows building a nest in a palm tree:

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The woodpecker flew away before I could snap a picture, but who knew this bird loved the bark of palm trees?

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Walking in Sunshine… Santa Rosa Plateau Part I

image 40 Miles of Sunny Trails

A little less than 15 miles from our Marina home is the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. We discovered it one weekend when we were headed up the Ortega Highway for a hike in the Cleveland National Forest. The Highway was closed off at Grand Avenue so we continued driving until we intersected with Clinton Keith Road remembering that there were hiking trails accessible from this area. Turning west toward Murrieta we happened upon the Reserve.

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The Santa Rosa Plateau  Ecological Reserve occupies 9,000 acres along the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains. The Santa Ana Mountains are also referred to as the Ortega Mountains. And yes, it is quite confusing to definitively name all the mountain ranges surrounding Lake Elsinore because so many segments carry their own local nicknames.

As we begin our hiking adventure we are pleasantly surprised at the flatness of the trails and dirt roads since there are not many trees providing relief from the sun shining brightly in a cloudless blue sky. However, as you will notice in the pictures below, the scenery does not disappoint.

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Now, as soon as I mention this, we decide to turn onto part of the Vista Grande Trail which climbs up steadily but lets us capture some beautiful panoramic views of how much of California looked before the San Andreas Fault produced volcanic and earthquake activity.

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And close-ups…

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On our way back to the car we choose the Granite Loop Interpretive Trail hoping to learn more about the Reserve via the 15 plaques and brochure guide we picked up. Working backwards is difficult, but I will do my best at an attempt to highlight the animals, plants, natural processes, and historical landscapes.

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Chaparral is the most common plant community in California. These small shrubs and bushes surround the granite rocks and boulders with their tough, tangled, thorny, and woody stems.

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Hundreds of years ago Native Americans stood in the pictures below.

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Archeologists affirm this because ceramic pots used for water storage, ollas, were found here. As you hike further into the Reserve you can’t help but see, smell, and hear what the American Indians experienced once upon a time!

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Granite rocks dominate the trail. About 100 million years ago these rocks were buried underground. As pieces chipped away and melted beneath the earth, they formed magma which cooled slowly. As wind and water eroded away the surface rocks, the magma rocks (granite) rose to the exterior.

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The Engelmann Oak Tree is only found here, in San Diego County, and in northern Baja Mexico. This tree can survive in drought conditions because it can lose or drop its leaves during extremely dry conditions. Once it rains again, new leaves grow.

Lots of lizards appear and disappear along the trail. Here are my favorite pics:

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