Homer's Travels: Poppies, Green Valley Cafe, And A Cool Dam Building

Friday, May 02, 2008

Poppies, Green Valley Cafe, And A Cool Dam Building

After sitting by the phone for the last three days waiting for good news and receiving only mediocre "it's not bad but it's not good either" news, I decided I needed to get out of the house. I pondered the question: "Where shall I go?". I decided to pull up Google Maps, center the map on Ventura, and slowly widen the view until something caught my eye. I ended up seeing the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.

I'd wanted to go here in the past but, for one reason or other, I have never made it. I knew that it was really late in the wildflower season so I'd probably missed the best displays of nature's colors, but I decided to go out there anyway. The drive out there was interesting taking me on Highway 126 and then over to San Francisquito Canyon Road. This last road is twisty turny and fun to drive. I noticed a few interesting things on the way out and I made plans to stop on the way back.

I reached the poppy reserve before 11:00 am and picked up a brochure with a trail map. I had limited time since I had to be back for Homer's veterinary appointment at 3:15 pm. There are miles of trails in the reserve. I chose a short, 1.8 mile loop since I had planned this trip on such a short notice that I didn't have any water with me (tsk, tsk). The trail starts off going north then loops around to the west before returning to the visitor's center. As I walked the well maintained and easy trail, the landscape reminded me of the prairie that I will be heading to soon (I hope). The Nebraska prairie won't have poppies but I'm sure there will be other spring wildflowers.

The day was perfect though a little warm. A breeze kept you cool and the only thing making noise was that wind, birds, buzzing grasshoppers and ground wasps, and the scurrying lizards. You could also see ants, black beetles, and the occasional caterpillar. It was too late in the day, and there were too many people, to see larger animals. Pictures of the flowers and critters are here.

I returned to the visitor's center after about an hour and headed for the car. A elderly lady sitting in a car called me over ("Hey young man" - much better than "Sir") and asked me about my Tilley hat. She thought it was a very nice hat for the dessert. I thanked her and told her the poppies were very beautiful. We chatted about the hat, poppies, and the dry weather before saying our goodbyes.

It was getting close to noon so I decided to stop for lunch. Usually when I'm roadtripping alone, I tend to stop at a fast food joint (usually Subway) but this time I decided to live a little dangerously and stop at a cafe. I'd seen a sign for a cafe in the town of Green Valley (population one thousand, two hundred, and change) and decided that would be my destination. I reached Green Valley and turned onto Spunky Canyon Road. Any place on a road named Spunky Canyon can't be too bad. I arrive at the Green Valley Cafe (which shares a building with the Green Valley Grocery Store and the only filling station in the small town) and went in.

The decor ... well there wasn't much decor. It looked like a place that shared it's building with the grocery store and the gas station. It was clean enough and the waitress, the only waitress, seemed friendly enough. I sat at a booth and listened to "Hotel California" playing from the CD Player/Radio/Boom Box sitting on a table on one side of the cafe and looked through the menu. There was the typical cafe selection of food. After hearing another patron order breakfast, I decided a second breakfast sounded good. I ordered the Ham Steak and Eggs, Hash Browns, and Toast. Then the wait started. It turns out the music was a CD of the Eagles greatest hits and I heard most of the songs by the time the food had arrived. OK, I exaggerate but it did take a good 30 minutes. I forgot how dull it can be waiting at a restaurant without someone to talk to. Usually the Wife is with me and we pass the time talking. Today I just listened to all the locals come in and say high to each other.

The food. The ham steak was large (10 oz) but it was a little dry. The eggs, I ordered scrambled, were over easy. I didn't complain about the eggs because I wanted to go home today and couldn't afford to wait another 30 minutes. The hash browns and toast were pretty good. I ended up not finishing all my food as it was a pretty filling meal that I am still feeling. Not sure I can recommend the Green Valley Cafe. It was OK. It was good enough I guess.

On the way home I stopped at the second place that I'd seen on the way up. I'd seen a cool old building which turned out to be an hydroelectric power station for the Saint Francis Dam. I parked on the side of the road and took some pictures through the fence. I like cool old buildings. Even out in the middle of nowhere, they tried to make the building interesting. There was a plaque talking about a dam break that killed over 450 people in 1928. I took some pictures.

I returned home in time to take homer to the vet. A nice day out of the house.

PS: No messages on the machine ... darn it. I have to be patient.


  1. The lupines are out! I love lupines.

    And now I feel like breakfast...mmm...minus the ham though.

  2. JaG: I always feel guilty when I eat two breakfasts. Not sure why. Doesn't stop me either.

    The poppies were pretty much the only thing left ... except for the lone lupine. All the other flowers were pooping out.

  3. Ah, the Poppy Reserve. Didn't make it this year, maybe next year. Thanks for the review of the place in Green Valley; I've never stopped but I've been curious about it...

  4. GH: I just managed to catch the tail end of the wildflowers. If it rains next year it will be better.

    Your welcome. The cafe is ok but not worth the drive all by itself.

  5. LOL! We actually live at the corner of Spunky and San Fran (what the locals call San Francisquito Canyon Road - any wonder?) - Being an ex-motorcylcist myself, I love driving home on San Fran when I come home from work.

    The cafe could be much much better, but the beer is good. The drive back on Spunky to Bouquet Canyon is another dream come true, even for a 4-wheel cage. =)

    Don't give up on Green Valley!

  6. Momsyfish: Welcome to Homer's Travels. I have been to worse cafes and I like the feel of Green Valley even though I didn't stay there very long. It felt so remote. I am a country boy at heart. If I drove through there again, I would probably stop again. I haven't given up.

    I didn't have a beer when I was there (I don't drink) but I'll take your word for it.