Trip to Lucky 5 Ranch, near Julian, CA

Yesterday I drove to this place about six miles south of Julian, CA, a small, touristy, mountain town east of San Diego. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the ranch abuts Anza-Borrega Desert Park, but this area is not desert. On the way, I drove through at least four Indian Reservations on Highway 76. California has more Native American residents than any other state.

This is Lake Henshaw on Highway 76 on the way to Julian. It is so full now that tops of trees stick out of the water. People told me that last year it was more like a big puddle.

The three mile hike was not long but quite strenuous as we climbed approximately 800 – 1000 ft. in altitude on the hike.

Lots of wild flowers everywhere due to abundant rain this year. We had to find parts of the trail because it had not been used since before Covid and was overgrown.

Views of Lake Cuyamaca which we could see in the distance as we climbed up and down.

The manzanita are in full bloom and luxurious this year. There were other flower the names none of us knew.


We kept climbing up steep slopes higher and higher. The climb was more difficult because lots of loose, little rocks and gravel in many places.

Where we ate lunch at the top which is slightly over a mile high. There are these dead, bleached out branches everywhere, the result of a big fire in 2003 which killed a lot of plants and some of it has never recovered.

Lunch up high among the rocks.

A different type of yucca than grows everywhere in the many other places where I have previously lived.

On the way down from the top. Everything is still quite green here and there were storm clouds in the distance.

Some people call this California lilac. It grows everywhere here and is in full bloom glory.

Winter Afternoon

No wind, stringy high clouds block a bit of blue.

Someone bounces a ball next door,

I hear the intermittent sound.

Suddenly several dogs bark across the golf course green,

Suddenly stop.

Across the turquoise pool water burnt orange leaves waft downward,

some land on the pale gold rocks,

some float at the pool’s terracotta edge,

others lay across the dark green rosemary bushes.

Bird song I cannot identify fills the background.

Two men, voices loud, banter –they’re neighbors, friends.

One of their small children cries, stops, cries again.

A late day golfer strides a ball, shouts.

Breeze arises, quits, more leaves fall,

the pool and birdbath water slightly ripple.

The lemons glow against the dark green leaves,

a painting emerald and bright yellow.

I sit beside the African multi-colored granite table my son made,

admire the colors:

-succulents called fire sticks match the falling leaves.

shades of orange, red, and green.

-the pots that house them match the dark blue of the pool’s old fashioned

Mexican tile.

-roses still display a few blossoms, dark red, pale pink, peach.

Tomorrow the gardener will trim them back to help them bloom lushly n spring.

-the oleander, still green, quit blooming weeks ago.

-rosemary loves this time of year, covers itself with tiny, fragrant, grey-blue flowers.

-in the distance mountains arise, a purple haze.

Now, no sounds, only silence.

I sit in the quiet beauty, write, drink green tea, feel grateful.