Palomar Mountain State Park

Palomar Mountain State ParkI totally want to show you the big fun we had in San Diego, but first I had to share this little glimpse of Palomar Mountain State Park. It seems like every time we go there, we discover something new (if the weather cooperates!), and this time we had a cool and breezy afternoon free for exploring. We visited the few little shops in town and then headed down to the park. We only had about an hour before we needed to head back to the telescope by the time we got there, so we wondered if it was worth the fee ($8) to go in for such a short time. Eric and I kind of felt like we should pass, and we had turned around on the narrow road when Eric’s dad suggested that we should give it a go, as long as we were already there. Bless him; he never misses an opportunity for fun and beauty. $8 divided three ways is not very much money at all, and we definitely had about $8,000 worth of fun. As you can see, the landscape is dramatically beautiful, pines and redwoods nestled in a sea of green, punctuated by the calls of hawks and band-tailed pigeons.

Palomar Mountain State ParkIt was amazing to see and identify, with my handy dandy Palomar guide, the flowers and trees. These little firecrackers, which lined every trail, are penstemons.

Palomar Mountain State ParkThis is called Indian Milkweed. Gorgeous.

Palomar Mountain State ParkEric’s dad noticed what we thought at first was one long red and black bug, but it’s two of them. I am so inspired by friend Melissa’s gorgeous bug photography and endless curiosity and passion for identifying insects (check out of her stunning photos here), so I looked up what these guys are. They are milkweed bugs! And they are mating. Wow. What a sight.

Palomar Mountain State ParkHere are two of my favorite guys, standing in front of a 400-year-old incense cedar. Awesome.

Palomar Mountain State ParkBut this was the real find of the day. I had read about them, but never expected to find them. These are mortars used for grinding nuts and seeds by the Luiseño tribe, hundreds and hundreds of years ago. They heated the granite, chipped it with a small stone, and then set a basket of acorns inside the indentation. They ground acorns with a larger rock, and, over time, the indentation grew deep and wide, and the basket was no longer needed. They used the mortars until they were deep enough to bruise the hands of the grinder, and then they formed new ones.

Palomar Mountain State ParkIt was totally amazing to gaze upon this piece of history, and to think of the people who made this place their home.

Palomar Mountain State ParkThis was my face when Eric’s dad discovered them. It’s pretty awesome to explore with someone who never misses things like this!

Palomar Mountain State ParkHere are two happy boys, surveying the landscape.

Palomar Mountain State ParkThese were just about the most charming picnic tables I think I’ve ever seen.

Palomar Mountain State ParkPart of our hesitation to go into the park was that I was wearing a dress (not exactly the best hiking duds), since we hadn’t planned on doing any hiking. Eric’s dad helped me climb up every rock, gripping both of my wrists, so I wouldn’t miss any of the views. Have I mentioned that he is the best, and I love him?

Palomar Mountain State ParkOn our way out, Eric pointed out these two trees, holding each other. So sweet.

Palomar Mountain State ParkAnd, just for fun, here is the Palomar Mountain Post Office, complete with charming model. The clerk came out to empty the mail box as we were admiring the building, and she told us that the post office needed a haircut. Oh, I disagree. This is the most beautiful overgrown hair style I’ve had the pleasure to see.

Palomar Mountain State ParkAnd, just for more fun, here’s a Palomar sunset we were lucky enough to catch that evening. Eric took some hilarious pictures of my face as I rounded the bend and caught this gorgeous array of colors, but you’ve probably seen enough of my jaw-dropping for one post. Suffice it to say that wonders abounded, and I’m so grateful I had two such beloved people to share them with.

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