The stay home mandate had only been in effect for a week, but it seemed like a month. The sun was shining, and a brilliant blue sky dotted with puffy clouds beckoned to us. I thought of what Governor Newsom said in a briefing: “If you need to go outside to get some exercise, do that, but don’t do it in a group.” Ok, he didn’t say you couldn’t drive or have an outside picnic, so I packed a lunch and off we went. We decided if we saw crowds, we’d turn around.
Headed up Highway 39 above Azusa, our first stop was to visit the bald eagles, nesting near San Gabriel Dam. There was one person in the pullout, and we chatted from the required distance. We learned he was from Orange County and visiting for the first time to get pictures of an eagle. As we stood there, the male eagle flew overhead, and the lone man snapped away. We left our card on his car windshield and the next day he emailed some photos of the eagles.
We continued up the highway turning east on the East Fork Road. Soon we found a vacant pull out and a perfect lone picnic table overlooking the San Gabriel Reservoir. We sprayed down the table with disinfectant, spread our tablecloth and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. For a while we completely forgot the nightmare we are living.
Cars flew up the Highway, but not as many as you would expect on a Saturday. Camera in hand, we pulled off where we could see what is left of Follows Camp, remembering the good times we had there. Years ago, we visited the camp for a tour and met the infamous Flo Flo Peck. It was in 1896 that Englishman Ralph Follows established the most popular hostelry in the San Gabriel Canyon. After his death in 1926, Sedley Peck and his wife Dolores “Flo Peck” restored the camp as a mountain resort, adding a restaurant and store. Previously guests arrived by the four-horse Follows Stage for a twelve-mile trip which required numerous river crossings. In 1925 the Canyon Road was paved, and automobiles could traverse it. Some say that was an improvement, but others believe it ended the historic and romantic flavor leading to the camp’s demise.
Over the years, visitors ate at the camp, found goldmining equipment in the little store, and paid for tours of the grounds. They could meet Flo Flo who talked about her younger days when she cooked for President Eisenhower.
In January 2005 record rainfalls wiped out three bridges, stranding 135 residents living at the camp. The floods washed away the wine cellar spilling dozens of bottles of wine into the river. With no one coming to the aid of those stranded, they built a dirt ramp over the main bridge and for a while these artists, retirees and others enjoyed the solitude of the camp. But alas, it was deemed uninhabitable and deserted. It is now history.
On our ride back to Duarte we continued up the canyon turning off on the Glendora Mountain Road to Horse Canyon Saddle and then down into Glendora.
. After a day of adventure, we had no close contact with anyone and felt comfortable with our adventure. As a matter of habit, we pulled over at The Donut Man but opted to not join the long line.
So, enjoy staying home, but if you cannot handle it, a little drive could lift your spirits and satisfy you that the world is still out there and functioning.