Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mount Palomar

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I went for a drive up Mount Palomar. It's a 6,142 foot mountain at the north end of San Diego County. I can see it from my town and it's literally minutes away. We see it just about every day but we've never taken the time to drive up it. We decided it was long past time to do so and finally went.

It was a pretty drive with winding roads, lots of motorcycles and bicyclists enjoying the curvy roads, and the weather was beautiful. There were beautiful flowers along the roadsides, in many colors...purple, pink, yellow, white, red...but turnouts were rarely where the best or most flowers grew. I did manage to get some pictures.


The fuzzy pods on this one remind me of edamame...


Here's a close up of it's beautiful white flowers...


This yellow one reminds me of Snapdragons...


I love the fuzzy, soft look of this one. It reminds me of the herb, Lamb's Ear...


There were even ferns up there! I never would have imagined that they grew on this mountain that sits right next to the desert and so close to my home. So pretty!




There were many more homes on the mountain than I would have imagined. There's history up there too. We stopped at an old barn/general store/antique shop that was built in the 1880's. There weren't very many businesses up there though. There was a small store that sold trinkets and a few snacks. There was a vegetarian restaurant that seemed to be popular with the bicyclists. There were quite a few cyclists riding up and down the mountain. This was one of the stages of the Tour of California bike race a couple of years ago. It's a great road for cyclists to train on. The only other business we saw was a post office and it's one of the smallest ones I've ever seen...


We saw three campgrounds up there. One is a state park. I had no idea they were up there! The ones we drove through were most suitable for tent camping and don't have any or much room for RV's.

The scenery was beautiful...lots of trees, flowers, and rolling hills...


At the top of the mountain is the Palomar Observatory. It was built in the 1930's and, at one time, it's 200" telescope was the largest in the world. The grounds and views are beautiful. We brought a picnic lunch and ate at a little park there. Afterwards, we walked up a path to see the observatory. There were a couple of huge and interesting trees alongside the path. Here's the bottom of the biggest one...


The observatory is pretty big but I'm still amazed at how we can see it from miles and miles away...


It's so pretty against the blue sky...


I took a picture of hubby standing next to the observatory to show how big it is...


It was built in an Art Deco style. I like the bell shaped bottom...


There are stairs on one side of the observatory that lead to restrooms and up into an observation area to view the massive telescopes and equipment inside. The Art Deco tile and details were beautiful but hard to photograph as it was pretty dark inside and I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures of tile in the restroom.


I did manage to get some photos from the observation area by putting my lense up against the glass and leaning on it to hold very still while the shutter stayed open. They turned out a bit yellow but the view of the telescopes and equipment is pretty good...


This one is looking up through glass at the ceiling of the dome...


There was a little window on one side that showed one of the wheels that the dome top turns on...


There was a little museum nearby with models of the observatory and telescopes, pictures of space and displays of what has been learned about space from this and other observatories, and a little shop.

Along the path back to the car there are some bushes covered in white blooms. So pretty!...


Here's a close up of one of some of the flowers...


We took Highway 76 and the South Grade road up to the top and the observatory. On our way home, we took the East Grade road which dropped down toward Warner Springs and Lake Henshaw. The lake has obviously grown a lot from all the rain we had this year. There are a lot of trees in the water and far from the shore...


I'm glad we finally went up to explore this mountain that we've been looking at all these years. We always like to explore areas nearby and be tourists in our own backyard. There's so much to see. I'm not sure why it took us so long to visit Mount Palomar. Hmmm...I wonder what else is nearby that we haven't seen?

2 comments:

jomamma said...

Wow, the observatory looks just like McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas! I wonder if they were built around the same time. The McD Obser. offers some pretty cool night time summer activities, I'm sure this one does too. My kids loved going there a few years ago.

Benita said...

I love observatories. The university I went to had one and once a year, they'd let students look through it. That was the first time I got to see the rings of Saturn for real and not a photo.

What a lovey view you have there.