Sunday, July 5, 2009

Franciscan Melange, Oak Woodland Savannah and MJ videos

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.


Silver Fox said...

I like this tying of geology to music. I do a similar thing when watching movies, though am often unsuccessful other than to guess a set created somewhere in the Mojave.

P.S. Your Flickr link should be:

coconino said...

Thanks. Corrected.

Also, much to the exasperation of my family, I have a habit of saying where commercials (and movies) have been filmed. Mostly you see the Owens Valley (Alabama Hills), the Malibu coastline (especially the location where the Malibu fault is exposed) and the central coast of California, usually in car commercials.

The most recent one I've recognized is a Lexus commercial, that looks to have been filmed in the Santa Ynez valley, perhaps along Foxen Canyon Road. If you see it, you'll recognize the valley oaks and that grassey marine sediment substrate.

Silver Fox said...

I used to be able to recognize specific areas in the Mother Lode country where many westerns have been filmed, now just recognize the general area. Also, sometimes you can see the southern Sierra in films that must be shot either near Randsburg or near Ridgecrest. (And I swear I've recognized parts of the Aqueduct from Mono Lake on occasion!)

coconino said...

Recently, I saw a commercial that looked like the drier parts of the Columbia River, perhaps near Vantage. It's always fun to say: "I know where that is!" when you recognize a filming location.

Silver Fox said...

I love thinking I know the location of movies - even if the credits prove I'm wrong. I don't see many commercials - we don't have any TV at all now, just TV/DVD player for watching vids. (I don't miss the commercials really, but guessing or knowing locations is fun.)

Are you going to enter the July Accretionary Wedge?