The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. (Don Barletti / Los Angeles…)
Carlsbad in bloom
Nourished by winter rains, the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch in San Diego County have begun to bloom. The peak at the 52-acre property is expected from late this month to the middle of next when more than 100 varieties of ranunculus, orchid, poinsettia, anemone, rose and other buds will carpet the rolling hills. The Flower Fields, 5704 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad, are open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week until May 10. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for children. Parking is free. Info: http://www.theflowerfields.com.
Finding rails to trails
Want to know how to take the Mount Lowe Railroad Trail to the summit of Mt. Lowe overlooking the San Gabriel Valley? The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to turn abandoned railroad paths into hiking and biking trails, has partnered with Google to include its database of more than 15,000 miles of multipurpose trails on Google Maps. The partnership now creates an online maping site that provides both street directions and recreation trail information. You can visit Google Maps (maps.google.com), type in a location and a destination and find driving directions or a biking or hiking route.
Mapping it out
Even with a GPS device in my car and GPS functions on my cellphone, I still like to have a reliable mapping program on my computer for plotting trips on a big screen with plenty of driving preferences that I can print out in big type with a variety of color maps. Microsoft's new 2010 Streets & Trips software with GPS Locator provides the best of both worlds; it performs great mapping that can then be sent to your GPS device so the routes, with stops and detours, are in synch. The software includes more than 1.7 million points of interest within a radius of 50 miles of the route, rerouting from where you are if you get off course, and a slew of other typical GPS features. It comes with a basic GPS locator, but I like also having a big bright full-function GPS device in my car. $69.95. (800) 642-7676, http://www.microsoft.com/streets/travel.