Wild Goose Chase In Search of Big Sandy Wildlife Area
I spent a lot of time on San Miguel's back roads yesterday afternoon looking for Big Sandy Wildlife Area. It's not all that easy to find the entrance on a map. It was hard enough to find Indian Valley Road, from which the parking lot is supposed to be entered, if you can believe the web page for Big Sandy Wildlife Area. I tried calling the phone number on that site, but it didn't work. I wasn't even sure if when I found it the area would be open for access, since nowhere online could I find any hours. (As you will see below, I did finally find a working number, and also learned there are no set hours for access.)
This intersection is where I should have started looking very carefully. Sometimes it was hard to tell a ranch driveway from a road. I did see one closed gate that could have been the entrance, but it didn't look quite right. Too bad they don't have a photo of the entrance on the web site. (See link to Google Map a few paragraphs under this)
|Intersection of Indian Valley and Vineyard Canyon Roads, © B. Radisavljevic|
It's a shame I didn't have this map with me.
I had an interesting drive all the way to Bradley on Indian Valley Road, Hare Canyon, and Bradley Road, but I didn't find Big Sandy. I must have driven right by it without seeing it. I think I did see it, just not the entrance. There were signs for everything else, but not Big Sandy Wildlife Area -- unless the government hid them well. By the time I reached these signs at Hare Canyon, I knew I'd been on a wild goose chase and the goose got away -- this time.
|Signs Near Intersection of Indian Valley and Hare Canyon Roads, © B. Radisavljevic. If you have reached this, you are far past the parking lot for Big Sandy Wildlife Area.|
I finally reached someone in Fresno today at (831) 649-2870 who walked me through a map on Google earth over the phone. We kept enlarging the map until we found the parking lot -- at least on the map. This is a link to where the parking lot is and what it looks like. Wish I'd had it yesterday. I also learned there are some yellow signs all along the fence of the parking lot.
I learned that this is hunting season there and that it would help to wear orange if I do back before it's over. They allow only shotguns and archery as weapons. Evidently the main game are quail and hogs. I only want to use my camera. Maybe I'll try again on the next moderately cool day.
What I Saw While on My Wild Goose Chase
I found cattle and horses grazing on the many ranches I passed, but no geese. You can see how dry the hillsides are.
Here are some of the cattle.
|Cattle at Ranch on Indian Valley Road, © B. Radisavljevic|
|Steer at Ranch on Hare Canyon Road or Bradley Road, © B. Radisavljevic|
These horses were gorgeous.
|Horses on Indian Valley Road, © B. Radisavljevic|
With all the animals to feed, there had to be hay, and I passed lots of it.
The Salinas River was dry, so I decided to photograph the graffiti on the pillars under the bridge on Bradley Road. It was more interesting than the bridge view from the road.
|Hay Seen Along Indian Valley Rd., © B. Radisavljevic. Photo size ideal for Pinterest|
Hare Canyon Road
As I wrote earlier, when I got to the signs at Hare Canyon Road, I knew I had gone too far north. I decided to head back to the 101 Freeway, so I turned west on Hare Canyon. Right after I turned I saw this contrast between irrigated and land with no irrigation. I passed very few irrigated acres.
|Irrigation on Hare Canyon Road, © B. Radisavljevic|
As it turns out, I circled all around the Big Sandy Wildlife area without realizing it. Hare Canyon curves around it before connecting to Bradley Road in Bradley, which is where I eventually got back on the freeway. It was not a smooth ride. At one point the road was so narrow I almost went over the edge, and I was only at a moderate speed, probably about 40 mph. Fortunately there was no embankment to drop off, but it was still scary.
Somewhere along Hare Canyon I passed some deer. I would have liked to have photographed them, but there was no good place to park. Both Hare Canyon and Bradley roads were almost deserted. I didn't see any other car on them while I was there. I finally could see the bridges crossing the Salinas River in Bradley up ahead.
|Railroad Bridge in Bradley Over Salinas River by Gate to National Guard Base, © B. Radisavljevic|
|Graffiti under Bridge on Bradley Road, © B. Radisavljevic|
I took one last photo near the bridge before I got back in my car and headed home. It had been a long afternoon. It was about ten degrees hotter in this area than it was back in Paso Robles. Every time I got out of the car to take a picture I almost could feel the moisture leaving my body. I was looking forward to sitting in my chair with a large glass of ice water.
|A Tree Near the Bridge in Bradley, © B. Radisavljevic|
Have you ever driven the back roads of San Miguel and Bradley? Have you ever been to the Big Sandy Wildlife Area? If so, did you find it easily?