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Smooth Jazz FM was playing a track of Courtney Pine’s album ‘Within The Realms of Our Dreams’ , strangely appropriate for my visit to the Torrey Pine State Reserve.

The TPSR ‘proper’ was great. First I parked at the bottom, just after you pay your $8 to get a car in. I took some pictures at sea level, then walked up the hill, dodging joggers and cyclists as they tried to out-do each other. It did not take long to spot D. edulis and D. lanceolata – same as yesterday. Some joggers looked a bit strange at the person who kept stopping to take pictures, apparently of weeds growing by the side of the road. ‘Will never get fit that way!’ I could see them think (‘Thought baloons’ coming out of people’s heads were invented by Disney in California, right?).

Got to the first (Guy Fleming) Trail which is said to be a 2/3 mile loop, the easiest trail. It took me 45 minutes to complete, due to frequent picture stops (to take 114 pictures). As the plants were the same as yesterday, I enjoyed taking pictures, looking for that extra special shot. I met a volunteer who was busy pulling out ‘exotic weeds’ and who was glad for a chat. The weed was an invasive grass from South Africa that was competing with the native flora and winning. She had left a Dudleya and asked her its name. ‘Dudleya lanceolata’, she said, confirming our ID yesterday. I explained my interest in cacti & other succulents. Helpfully she said there was a second Dudleya on the trail: ‘Ladyfingers’ aka D. edulis. The native Americans who used to live here, the Kumeyaay, used to eat its leaves in a salad. The Opuntia is O. littoralis, the cholla is C. prolifera, the Yucca (Same as I saw last Friday, in flower, on the way to Julian) is Y. schidigera and the other I had already recognised as Y. whipplei and of course, the Pine trees are Pinus torreyana, the Torrey Pine. Very useful information.

All were spotted and photographed as well as the spectacular scenery. Along most of the loop, the path was roped off, as they were making efforts to let the plants regenerate after removing the exotic weeds. As a result, I was limited to taking pictures from the path, because as you all know, I always do as I’m told. As the path edged along the cliffs overlooking the Ocean, Ferocactus viridescens also appeared on the scene, but the plants seen yesterday were in better shape and made better photo subjects. Agave shawii was also there but it was a much darker form than Alain & I had seen in Baja in February. I wonder how many variety and forms exist or if this is just an environmental phenomenon.

Having completed the loops, I walked back down hill and then drove up hill and parked in the visitor’s centre. Here all the plants listed above were found growing with labels next to them. At the visitors’ centre, I bought the booklet dedicated to the park (quite old, with B&W pictures), a booklet entitled ‘Wildflowers of the Guy Fleming Trail (although the lady who served me suggested that the Wildflower book of California Natives was much better, but at four times the price) and a fold up chart ‘Flowering Plants of Torrey Pines State Reserve’.  Now that I’m back in Room 286, (no, not in the local mental hospital) I read that I should also have seen, but missed Dudleya pulverulenta, Bergerocactus emoryi, Mammillaria dioica and Opuntia occidentalis. Never mind, I saw them already in February and the park is large, so these plants may have occurred in places that today were not accessible. I’ll need to look up two Dudleya missed that we didn’t see before: D. brevifolia and D. variegata – perhaps these are no longer recognised, or perhaps I just did not see or recognise them.

I got ‘home’ around 5 p.m. and promptly fell asleep – must be all that healthy sea air.

Life continues to be great – I feel guilty at times that I’m enjoying myself so much and fall asleep with a smile on my face – that’s another day that they can’t take away from me!

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