Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

When I last wrote, we were hoping to visit the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla, California. The weather was looking iffy, and so I asked everyone to cross their fingers and hope for the best. And YOU GUYS CAME THROUGH! 😎 It ended up being a very nice afternoon. I have lots of pictures to show you. But first, let's just take a look at how the day started.

Sadie was stretched out on Mike's lap. 

The kitties have no complaints about the availability of a good lap when we're traveling. While she relaxed, I worked on my slow-stitching. I stitched enough of this section to decide to move my hoop to the right. I'll pick it up there this morning.

We were waiting for a call from Mike's sister, who was going to check into the Best Western motel next door. While we waited, I took some time to look up the colors for the Crabapple Hill Stitch-along. I have only my stash of leftover floss with me. As it turns out, I had about half the colors I needed, and I was able to wing it on some of the other colors. Close enough. I think this is the last thing I needed to do to be ready for stitching. I'm telling you, February 1st can't come soon enough.

I neglected to bring a ring to hold my floss bobbins, but a large safety pin will do the trick.

When Mike's sister arrived, we spent some time chatting, and then headed out for lunch. After that, we drove south toward La Jolla on our way to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. We got into some traffic along the way, and so the trip took much longer than expected. It also took a fair amount of zig-zag driving trying to get around the traffic jam caused by an earlier accident. And so this view was a welcome sight as we headed down the final hill. There it is: the Pacific Ocean.

The view got even better as we approached Torrey Pines South Beach.

We took a wrong turn, and had to backtrack some, but eventually found our way to the gate.

Entry fee to the park was $15 per car, which was steep, but we were happy to pay it.

The image below of a tree in silhouette is kind of the classic view of a Torrey Pine. They have the appearance of a deciduous tree, but the needles of a pine tree. They are considered the rarest of all pine trees. Wikipedia tells us they are "a critically endangered species growing only in San Diego County in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and the coastal town of Del Mar to the immediate north, and on Santa Rosa Island and San Miguel Island, offshore from Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara County. The Torrey pine is endemic to the California coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion."

After the traffic jam and wrong turns, our shadow selves were pretty happy to be there.

Here's another shot of a Torrey Pine, not in silhouette. Pinus torreyana is a broad, open-crowned pine tree growing to 26–56 feet (8–17 meters) tall in the wild, with 9.8–11.8 inches (25–30 centimeters) long leaves ('needles') in groups of five. The cones are stout and heavy, typically 3.1–5.9 inches (8–15 cm) long and broad, and contain large, hard-shelled, but edible, pine nuts. 

Like all pines, their needles are clustered into 'fascicles' that have a particular number of needles for each pine species; in the Torrey pine there are five needles in each fascicle. Like all pines, it has strobili, which are structures that function as a flower but look like a small cone. For the Torrey pine they look like a yellow bud in a male strobilus and like a small red cone in a female. (And that's probably more than you ever wanted to know, but you know...Wikipedia.)

We took the beach trail, but only part way. Mike's sister Meredith has some medical issues that leave her winded on this sort of trail. We walked until she cried "uncle," which gave all of us an excuse to stop.

Oh yes...and watch out for these guys. The day was really too chilly for them, and we didn't see any.

Of course, you'd be disappointed if I didn't take pictures of every blooming thing, and I was pretty darned excited to see these prickly pear cactus in bloom. It's a rare treat.

Here's another shot of a torrey pine tree.

Looking out toward the ocean, we could see some sort of Coast Guard practice rescue going on. 

I didn't notice this until I downloaded the pictures from my camera. Look far out on the horizon and to the right in the photo below, and you can see a ship there.

Looking south, we could see the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier.

I got a closer view of it a little later in the day.

Below is a map of the trails in the area. I've marked with a red arrow where we were standing. But Mike had other plans. He really wanted to go to the "gliderport" where we could watch the paragliders. We used to visit the area when we were still dating and watched what were then "hang-gliders" by the hour.
I've circled the location of the gliderport at the lower right corner of the sign.

So we bid good-bye to the trees and then headed on down the road for a couple of miles.

As we walked out, I caught a few more blooming things. There was wild sage growing here, and it smelled heavenly.

Heading back the way we came, we could see the North Torrey Pines Road Bridge.

From there, we headed farther south to the "gliderport," which is more fancy and civilized than it was when we were kids. It used to be just a cliff where people ran and jumped off and sailed away with their hang-gliders. Now there are picnic tables and a snack bar, and even a gift shop. I wish I could have gone into the gift shop in search of a shot glass and refrigerator magnet, but I'd left my mask in the truck, and so I was confined to the outdoors.

We parked and walked to where the action is. Just a hint: If you don't want birdsh*t on your car, then I'd suggest not parking here.

Walking on, we came upon this magnificent thing...someone probably knows what it is.

Here's a closer shot of one of the flowers. It appears to be some sort of cactus or succulent.

Here, we used to watch what we called "hang-gliders." Below is an image I borrowed from Creative Commons. There were no hand-gliders present yesterday. 

(image source: "Dan Buchanan; paraplegic hang glider pilot" 
by Images by John 'K' is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hang gliding is a recreational activity in which a pilot flies a light, non-motorized foot-launched heavier-than-air aircraft. Most modern hang gliders are made of an aluminium alloy or composite frame covered with synthetic sailcloth to form a wing. This one happens to have some colored smoke on board, which isn't common. 

What we saw yesterday falls under the heading of "paragliding." Paragliding is the recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders: lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness or lies supine in a cocoon-like 'speed bag' suspended below a fabric wing.

It was mesmerizing watching them, and I took quite a few pictures. 

We stood watching them for about half an hour. That's Mike and his sister, Meredith, in the image below.

Eventually, our eyes were full and we decided to head back ahead of rush-hour traffic. As we left, I caught this quote on the side of the snack bar.

It was an interesting quote coming from Leonardo da Vinci, whose life spanned the 15th and 16th centuries. He was a man ahead of his time, wasn't he?

Okay, so that was kind of the end of our day. We ate dinner out, and then said good-bye to Meredith, dropping her at her motel. It was a very nice way to spend the day, and we enjoyed our visit with her.

Today we're doing some grocery shopping and then just hanging out for the rest of the day. Our social calendar continues to be busy. We're seeing friends Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday we'll spend the day rounding things up since we'll be moving on to Boulder City on Monday. As for today, I'm going to finish putting the borders on the Posies quilt. It'll be good to have a finished quilt top under my belt.


Barbara said...

The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air. ~ Wilbur Wright

piecefulwendy said...

Looks like a very enjoyable day, despite the traffic glitch and the rattlesnake sign (ha). I always learn something from your posts; today I know more about torrey pines. Cool.

Nancy said...

I love watching hang gliders or paraglides. We were fortunate on a trip to Oceanside to see a couple or hang gliders. What my husband found amazing was as they were just hanging in the sky above us because the wind was so strong they could make no forward progress there were eagles in the air above them. Also gliding on the wind currents. We got to watch the gliders land on the strip of beach we were walking on as a storm came in. They got down just before the skies opened with heavy rain. We rushed back to the car after the amazing show.

Sara said...

A lovely way to spend a day. We watched lots of paragliders when we visited Maui several years ago. It was fun to watch them just launch themselves from a hillside.

Shepherdess55 said...

Your mystery plant is a species of Aloe.


Charlotte M. said...

Looks like you got a great weather day for Torrey Pines. Wonderful pictures. The interesting orange flowers look like soft tooth cactus. My sister lives in San Diego and she has some growing in her yard. Hummingbirds love them.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Sounds like a lovely day! I was amazed with the cactus flower - such an intense yellow. Curious to know if they're scented?
And no thank you to even the THOUGHT of going up in those glider thingies. I imagine the view from up there must be spectacular but I will keep my feet both firmly planted, thank you very much.

Lyndsey said...

Sound like a fabulous day and I love your photo. I really fancy trying paragliding but the family think I'm too old,