"Superbloom" doesn't exist in the dictionary, but after this spring, most southern Californians know the definition. If the root word and prefix smashed together still aren't giving you enough clues, I'll help you out: a "superbloom" is an occurrence during which seemingly all of the flowers in one area bloom at once - often after a substantial amount of rain - painting the scenery in new and vibrant colors. And after the unusual and plentiful rains southern California received this winter, the usually dry and ashen desert came alive with hues of canary yellow, fuchsia and indigo.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is normally a lesser-known state park, often forgotten or overshadowed by SoCal gems like Malibu Creek State Park, Crystal Cove State Park and even the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. But visitors flocked to Anza-Borrego this spring as the desert put itself on display. Dandelions and other wildflowers blanketed the desert hills, as prickly pear cactus flowers and desert chicories added splashes of white and pink.
It felt so wonderful to be in the heat, hearing the gravel crunch under my sandals and not much else. Other visitors were around, but mostly also quiet observers, often clutching cameras (much nicer and bigger than mine). An older couple asked me if I knew how to get to the visitor's center; I guess it must have appeared in my element - like I belonged there and knew the area - though that's far from reality. I was somewhere so new, somewhere I hadn't even heard of before the superbloom craze, photographing flowers and cacti I've never seen before.
We headed back to LA at midday, when it became almost uncomfortable to continue sweating under my sunhat. It was a moderate drive - about four hours - and I had convinced Sam to drive so I could observe out the window as we headed home. Further on down the highway as we neared small towns and suburbs, one of the hillsides near the road was dancing with orange poppies bopping in the wind. I thought about stopping, but considered all the beauty I'd already seen that day and thought, "I'll come back for the next superbloom." I closed my eyes as we sped towards the city.