Lake Elsinore Walker Canyon Super Bloom

Lake Elsinore poppy super bloom


My friend and I embarked on one of the road trips of the season, California’s Super Bloom 2019. Intitally when I saw so many amazing pictures of friends frolicking in a sea of poppies on Facebook, I knew that I couldn’t miss out on this. As I researched where everyone was going, I called my friend and said we are going. My friend Julie and I are nature freaks. We live close to the Santa Monica Mountains where we hike together a lot. Due to the recent wildfires that struck our area last fall, we were determined to see spring’s burst of wildflowers in it’s magnificence. This is something that I have never seen in my life. It was one of the most amazing spectacles.

Lavonne Grady photography walker canyon Lake Elsinore

Lavonne Grady photography walker canyon Lake Elsinore super bloom

The drive for us, fortunately was less than 2 hours. We met a couple that drove from San Francisco. We met these ladies who were from Chicago and Wisconsin. This was not only locals but nationwide news. As soon as we got on hwy 15, all we can see is poppies everywhere. On top of the hills, on the side of hills, all around there was poppies. I was getting so excited that I just wanted to get out of the car as soon as possible. Upon arriving, the exit was closed and we started to get some traffic. We learned that the weekend before they had received over 1 million visitors. The weekend we went they were prepared to handle the traffic. We drove another 2.5 miles to the next exit where we were directed to a parking area where we would be shuttled to the canyon entrance. After being shut down due to the population overload, the city decided to control the situation due to resident complaints. The good part was it was controlled. The bad part was now we had to pay 10.00 to see the poppies. But it was truly worth it.

Orange poppies LaVonne Grady photography

With the excitement looming and my anxiety levels rising, we finally arrived at the entrance of Walker Canyon. Hundreds of people dressed up with their cameras taking selfies and pictures of each other. The all seemed concentrated in one area and you can tell. Why? Because people who don’t respect nature left major footprints. By time that I got there there was some damaged to the hills. New trails were made. People laying on poppies to get their selfies. Since my friend and I like to hike we managed to go a little further and get away from the hordes of people. Also we respect nature and took all of our pictures in open spots. We tried not to leave our footprint. I think we really accompolished that.

Walker canyon lake elsinore super bloom LaVonne Grady photographyGirl sitting in the middle of a poppy field walker canyon lake elsinore LaVonne Grady photographyGirl standing in the middle of wild flowers walker canyon Lake Elsinore LaVonne Grady photographyWalker canyon Lake Elsinore LaVonne Grady photography super bloom

Poppy fields in walker canyon Lake Elsinore LaVonne Grady photography

Just like everybody else, I brought a couple of outfits to change into along the way for a few pictures for myself. My friend Julie isn’t a photographer. So what I do with my non photographer friends is set up the scene. I make sure the exposure is good, then I place the composition just right and tell them to stay there but feel free to zoom in and out. I usually have them do the simplest photography until they feel comfortable. I don’t like when my photos horizon lines are off. It may seem artistic but I hate it. Does that mean I’m actually the photographer even if I didn’t release the shutter? Leave a comment on that. I would love to read what other people think on that one.

What do you think? I think she did a great job taking my pictures. Till the next adventure.

Washington DC


Historical buildings, African American history museum, Lincoln memorial, us capital building, Jefferson memorial
Image: LaVonne Grady

How I love DC.  I definitely think it should be on every American’s bucket list as one of the US destinations to see.  DC is such a great metropolitan city.  From the food to the sights you can’t miss a beat.  Even though I had only a day and a half, I managed to check out some of the local eats and see most of the monuments, thanks to the Hop On Hop Off bus tour.

The first night we decided to have drinks at RPM. RPM is an elegant Italian restaurant which started in Chicago by reality stars Giuliani and Bill Rancic, chef Doug Psaltis and partners. The drinks were amazing. The drink that I got was even more amazing as the mixologist made my drink at the table. For dinner we went to Farmers and Distillers.  Farmers and Distillers is a named one of the best new restaurants in DC. It’s a farm to table style restaurant much like it’s sister restaurant, Founding Farmer. For all the alcohol connoisseurs, Farmers and Distillers has an in house distillery.  The food was great and if you like comfort farm to table recipes, you’ll love Farmers and Distillers. It’s great for large families, friends, or colleagues.  For breakfast before our long filled day of activities, we decided to go to the Commisary for breakfast. It’s located in the cute neighborhood of Logan Circle. I really liked the location. It’s a cool hipster area. The breakfast was great! I love a good breakfast joint. For dinner we ended up at Old Ebbitt Grill. One of the iconic restaurants of DC. It’s been around since 1856. It’s an American classic Victorian style restaurant. I had the best conversations with fellow patrons. This young lady told us that the Old Ebbitt Grill is a local hangout for most politicians, what they call “ugly Hollywood.” I though that was funny how people get super excited to see their favorite politican.


Sexy drinks at RPM in Washington DC
Image: LaVonne Grady

During the day we took the Hop on Hop off bus to Arlington Cemetery. At first I wanted to skip it and go to Georgetown instead. Arlington Cemetery was closer and we were short on time so we ended up at the cemetery for times sake. I was completely moved by the changing of the guards. The crowd was massive and it was hard to see. There were a lot of students that came from different states on a field trip to make matters worse but, one of the students gave me his spot and I was able to get a glimpse of the changing of the guards. It was so touching. The atmosphere was very still and quiet. I couldn’t help but tear up. Here lies soldiers who died for our freedom and we don’t know there names. Writing this has me all teared up. The sacrifice that people make for our liberty is incredible. It was also an incredible to see the gravesites of the Kennedy family.

To sum it all up, the people are great, the sights are amazing, and the restaurants are incredible. Having only a day and trying to fit things in, I was able to get a sense of the city and the culture. Check out the profile for a complete look at the photos.


Why I Joined A Photography Group

Model leaning on the door post wearing Chloe sunglasses at the stagecoach inn in Newbury Park ca
Image: Christian Ortiz


I co lead a photography group at my church to build community with others in my neighborhood and maybe bless someone along the way with a great photo.  I must say, I had a great time.  I think we were surprised by how amazing our first meet up went.  It was raining that morning and I didn’t think we would be able to get any real good shots being indoors.  Plus I was anticipating on being outdoors like we planned.  Living in a dry area, being outdoors after a really wet season is a blessing. It’s quite lush and green right now even in the burnt areas that were damaged by the Hill and Woolsey fires. I was eager to be outside and enjoy the nature.

For our first meeting together, we decided to keep it real local.  I have lived in the Conejo Valley for almost half my life and I have never been to the Stagecoach Inn.  The Stagecoach Inn is a historic landmark and museum in Newbury Park. Stagecoach Inn was a resting stop for people going from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. These days by car the distance between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara is about an hour and a half with no traffic. It has also been used as a post office, military school, and restaurant.

Fortunately for us the rain stopped and we ended up with a beautiful afternoon. As soon as I parked and studied the grounds, I was immediately eagered to get started.  This historic site has the most amazing photographic spots. I definitely could of had more outfits with me for sure.  One of the docents told us that the Inn is used for weddings as well and I can see why.


Model leaning on the door post wearing Chloe sunglasses at the stagecoach inn in Newbury Park ca
Image: Christian Ortiz


Before we got started we decided to talked about our love for photography. One of the photographers wife was pregnant and we thought it would be a great gift to give her pregnancy photos to cherish for her and her family.  It was a pleasure to be able to bless her with photos.  Using each other with that great backdrop made it all worth it. Since I also like to be in front of the camera for fun, it was cool to be someone else’s muse.  I felt blessed that I had a couple of photographers to take photos of me.  My sister usually is the phtographer whenever we are out, but if she isn’t around, then I don’t have the best shots of myself. Maybe because she is honest with my poses and angles plus I think she does quite well.

What’s so great about being with other creatives is that we come with different views on how we see the world. It’s inspiring to see how each of us sees things around us. My prayer is that we will all be able to develop our talent even more. I pray that this group can make a difference in how we see the world through each other’s eyes.  I also pray that in the process we get to bless each other as well as others with our images and at the same type build cool relationships shooting together.

Model standing in front of a vintage tractor wearing raybans
Image: Christian Ortiz
A photographers taking pictures of a wagon wheel at stagecoach inn in Newbury Park ca
Image: Christian Ortiz

I’m super excited about the upcoming photo meet up.  If you know any great places in the Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern county areas, please comment.  Thanks and till the next post.