Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Angeles Crest Highway

 When life gets in the way it can be difficult to get out and find adventure. However, there is always something to do out there and it doesn't always have to take that much time or planning to do it.
  Our cycle of life has us in this dull period as I write this but we haven't let it stop us. I've taken to the interweb to find some scenic drives near me. Specifically I was looking for National Scenic Byways and of course I was rewarded. I found the Angeles Crest Highway.
  We started out the route on the western edge in La Canada Flintridge, CA. The thought of getting into the mountains and out of the valley heat had me excited. Despite it being October it has been pushing mid nineties for high temperatures in southern California and frankly I don't like the heat. The Angeles Crest Highway promised to take us to over 7000 feet above sea level. In fact, it's one of the highest highways in the state of California. Early on in the drive as we started to climb we were rewarded with beautiful views of the cities below but if you want to see them you need to take advantage of the pull offs within the first few miles. After that the windy road leads you deep into the canyons and away from civilization.
  I was surprised to see signs for ski resorts up there. I just don't think of skiing in southern California. This is beach country, dang it. We have no room for snow! At least I thought that until I saw a snow plow pass us headed toward town. Again, I learn something new every day. Actually, the road closes in some areas during the winter due to snow so I guess these really are mountains.
 I will say that when I head into the mountains I like to see Pine and Aspen trees. Not here. Unfortunately the mountains along this stretch of road still look like desert to me. It's still a gorgeous drive but it doesn't feel like the mountains. 
 Here in the San Gabriel mountains Mt Wilson Observatory sits high above Los Angeles. We didn't take this spur of the trail so we didn't get to see it. Perhaps another time.
Short of a few pull offs here and there this road is strictly made for scenery without the need to stop. If you bring your camera you can get some nice canyon views as you climb, though but overall this is just going to be you passing through on your way Little Rock. It seems to be a popular drive, however, based on the amount of motorcycles we saw that Sunday afternoon. We also encountered a group of BMW's and a group of Mustangs cruising the canyon. Yeah, I'm a bit jealous as we drive along in our grocery getter but, oh well.
 We missed a turn somewhere along the way and ended up exiting the canyon farther north then we should have. So we took advantage of our shorter drive and swung into Vasquez Rocks to stretch our legs. Some of our group had not been to Vasquez Rocks yet and I think it's kind of worth stopping by for a few minutes if you're in the neighborhood. We weren't the only ones with that idea as the place was crawling with families out climbing around and having a little late lunch.
  Yeah I like to have epic adventures that take full weekends or longer but sometimes I have to live in reality. Which sucks. But taking advantage of things that are close by and doesn't require us sitting on the couch at home can help keep away that cabin fever feeling that creeps in once in awhile. So my advice is to do a little research, grab a cooler of drinks and a map and head outside for a little mini adventure. Your stress levels will thank you for it.

Brandan

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