Jack Elliott's Santa Barbara Adventure

Carrizo CrossingCoiled barbwire on Carrizo Plain

I drove out to the Carrizo Plain National Monument after a few days of intermittent rain showers. It is a semi-arid grassland of several hundred thousand acres that remains today, for the most part, as it was hundreds if not thousands of years ago. That alone, in the nation’s most populace state of California, is perhaps a remarkable enough trait in itself to warrant a visit by backcountry gadabouts, those who appreciate the simple pleasure of roaming freely within vast, open natural spaces and unspoiled landscapes. The nearby San Joaquin Valley, by contrast, has been carved up into a patchwork of farm fields, ranches and subdivisions.

I go to the Carrizo Plain when I feel like escapingthe artificial metropolitan bubble of humanity and its hurried masses, but don’t feel much like hiking. I enjoy the plain’s winter ambiance, after seasonal rains dampen the dessicated…

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