The Wildflower Tour was organized by Steve Ponsi, who has volunteered to do it every year for many years.
We met near his home outside of Salinas, in a gathering spot at Las Palmas. We could see burn marks from last year’s fires on the hillsides. Steve said there were around 30 cars. After getting signatures on liability waivers and COVID documents, and after a preliminary potty break, we hit the road.
We headed south on River Road, following it through lettuce fields and past vineyards. We turned onto Foothill Road and went past a half dozen or so wineries on our way to Paraiso Springs Road, which is more suitable for agricultural equipment than for Porsches. However it was a relatively short drive on the rough surface until we reached Arroyo Seco Road, which then led us to Carmel Valley Road. From there it was a direct run through the hills. Not a straight run, though. Carmel Valley Road has a severe case of the twisties where it goes through the hills. There was just enough traffic going the other way to keep us on our side of the road.
Once you get through the twisties, with sheer drops on one side in a few places, you get to the shaded part of the road where the trees overhang from both sides. There are still curves, just not as many. There were wildflowers all along the way, including a lot of yellow mustard, orange monkey flowers and California poppies, and purple lupine, including a large patch of lupine just before town.
We made it to Carmel Valley Village without any mishaps, and stopped at Carmel Valley Community Park for a potty break. Steve had planned to go on from there to a coffee place at the mouth of the valley, but the interesting driving was done, so many of us took that as the end of the tour and headed for home. Maybe next time we’ll do a wine tour to some of the wineries we passed on the way.
Articles and photos by Vega Roecker.