The five-year-old was curious about MJ and all the media fuss over him and his demise. Having reached my majority around the time when he was releasing his first solo albums and becoming "king of pop", I set about to educate my little one on the finer points of moonwalking while simultaneously reliving a wee bit of my late teens and early twenties through watching a series of his videos this last week.
What struck me the most, at least in the outdoor videos, was the fact that most the scenery seemed to have been shot at his Santa Ynez valley ranch, Neverland. I know because one of my favorite hiking trails for about 9 years, in the 90s, was right next door, while I lived in Santa Barbara.
I pretty vividly remember the last time I hiked that trail. It was spring, and a very good flower season. One of the peaks above, a triangular-shaped one whose name I forget (Zaca Peak?), was bright orange with eschscholzia california, California poppy. I came across one of the more beautiful groups of sisrynchium bellum (blue-eyed grass), I'd ever seen. It was a different blue, lighter than what I was used to seeing. The lupinus longifolius, bush lupine, was in full flower giving off that wonderful grape-juice scent. Down on the valley floor, the quercus lobata, or valley oaks were dripping with the green of their fresh spring leaves.
Out of all the landscapes I've been, that driven by the Franciscan melange is my favorite, and the drive from Los Olivos up to Figueroa Mountain across the main ridgeline and over to the saddle between Figueroa Mountain and the San Rafael peaks best exemplifies that landscape to me. [Figueroa Mtn Road to Happy Cyn Road back to San Marcos Pass Road] From the serpentine Franciscan knockers, to the grassed shaley slopes, to the tall foothill pine forests at the top of the range, this landscape speaks to me like no other.
The Franciscan melange in the San Rafaels along Figueroa Mtn Road is composed primarily of marine sediments, with serpentine Franciscan knockers showing up occasionally at the top of the mountain and along Happy Cyn Rd. The mix of differing sediments, each of which supports its own mini-ecosystem of flora, gives rise to a ruffled, patchwork landscape which is like no other I've seen, and is definitely one of my favorite.
Though I don't have any photos (didn't have a digital camera back then), this one shows the triangular peak and really exemplifies the beauty of the area: Figueroa Mtn, Flickr image courtesy of Kimberly Perkin.
Though any fascination I might have once had with the "king of pop" is long gone, whenever I see one of his videos, I'll fondly look for images of the Santa Ynez Valley.