Several times during my life, enticed by a hint of color high on the mountain, I ventured into interesting space other nearby people overlooked or ignored. When I was a student at UCR, the solitude of the Box Springs Mountains loomed only a couple of miles away from the bustling campus. I hardly ever even saw the mountains, because the Riverside smog was always so heavy. One exceptional clear day, I noticed a patch of color high on the side of the near peak. Local people told me it was just summer weeds. But I had to look for myself. Because that's the way I roll. So I hiked up the mountainside. And as I approached the highest highs, I found myself wading through a riotous blaze of golden California Poppies blooming across the high meadows. Acres and acres of them, and I felt like I had them all to myself.
Then I realized I was not quite alone. As I wandered among the boulder-strewn slopes, I was challenged by some of the local residents. Big ugly black lizards objected to my encroachment. Later I found out their common name is Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), related to Iguanas. There were dozens of them sunning themselves in the rocks, like dinosaurs taking a nap, and as I approached they made hissing noises and acted like they would love to bite me for disturbing the peace.