mott adobe ruins

In 1910, Johnny Mott, a famous LA attorney, built an adobe home on the banks of Malibu Creek, in what was then Crag’s Country Club. It was reported in the Los Angeles Times that Mott’s longtime friend, President Herbert Hoover, was a frequent guest. 

When 20th Century Fox bought the property in 1946, the adobe was retained as a movie set. You can see it in “Viva Zapata!” (1952), starring Marlon Brando, but by 1970 it had fallen into ruins. 

The Mott Adobe ruins are now part of Malibu Creek State Park, and only the dramatic stone fireplace is left standing.

newton canyon

I’ve been driving past the Newton Canyon trailhead on Kanan for, oh, 25 years. Today I finally hiked it. It’s very pretty! The canyon sunflowers are out in full force, with lupins about to bust out all over.

When I stopped to sketch the view, I discovered that I didn’t have my usual brushes with me. All I had was a skinny little water brush, which is not my favourite tool. I tried to make the best of it …

warrior’s plume

It was another windy, chilly day at the coast so I headed over the hill to my favourite sheltered trail, the section of the Backbone between Piuma Rd and Tapia Park, also known as Piuma Ridge Trail. I love that place—it’s shady, ferny, moist, and mostly human-free. Perfect for just sitting on a mossy rock and breathing it all in with eyes closed, enjoying my daily dose of nature therapy.

I saw an interesting and new-to-me plant, so did some sketch-noting and looked it up when I got home. It’s Warrior’s Plume (Pedicularis densiflora), a perennial root parasitic herb that attaches to the roots of other plants to obtain nutrients and water. I only saw a few plants; I wonder how widespread it is. It doesn’t appear on the 1983 list of the Flora of Malibu Creek State Park, so maybe it’s a more recent arrival, or perhaps it’s too rare to have made it on the list? Regardless, it’s very pretty!

close encounter

I was minding my own business, sketching the riparian plants in a secluded spot by Malibu Creek, when I was suddenly aware that I was not alone. In fact, a Large Creature was right at my back. I was so startled—and then immediately relieved that it was not a mountain lion* or a crazy human. It took a second for my adrenaline to calm down and for me to start sketching the friendly doe, who slowly (silently!) wandered off. I aspire to be so quiet in the wilds.

* A pet dog was taken by a lion a couple of days ago, a few miles from here.

corral canyon

It’s easy to take the wrong turn on the Corral Canyon loop trail and end up climbing way up the mountain. I managed to do so AGAIN today. I eventually realised my error and backtracked; I’m *pretty* sure I won’t make that mistake a third time.

There aren’t many wildflowers out yet, but the grounds of the burned out house are full of naturalized garden flowers, including African flag, periwinkles, and the ubiquitous oxalis. I gathered a baggie of sour flowers to try making ink — more to come on that!