Irvine Ranch Tour – 2003
By Richard Parrish
Thirty-one enthusiasts and fourteen Model A's left the Mall of Orange and arrived in the early days of the 1900's behind the locked gates of the Nature Conservancy on the Irvine Ranch property.
John Graves, our leader, introduced us to our host and naturalist Joel Robinson who pointed out we had entered a unique natural habitat where grizzly bears were hunted to extinction and still was home to mountain lions, rattle snakes, mule deer, ringed tail cats, coastal oaks, sycamores and poison ivy and ticks. The road we would travel wasn't really a road at all but a dirt track through the wilderness replete with stream crossings, mud holes, ruts washouts, steep hills to climb and overhanging foliage. This was to be the first driving tour on the property. Walking and biking are the norm.
With this said and nervous glances exchanged, he unlocked another gate and we embarked on our adventure. Dick Dewey, Mel & Terry Collings, Don & Sally Miller, Everett & Reba Pierce, John & Gwen Riggs, Marion Wavra, Vince Mariola, Don & Colleen Schmitt, Merle McCellen & Eddie, Matt & Laura Ricketts with their soon to be newest club member, John & Donna Rathman, Rick & Louise Hall, Ted & Helen Loeffler, Larry & Jill McDonald and Richard & Jeanne Parrish with grandson Keith Munson threaded our way through wild mustard plants as tall as the car and scraping the fenders on both sides. Glen & Sharon Johnson herded us along in their big AA "Big Momma".
Joel made an abrupt stop to jump out and look at a rattlesnake in the road. It slithered away before the rest of us got to see; as if we wanted to get any closer. He stopped at a puddle in the road to show us mountain lion tracks, which were about a day old. Both Everett 's and my cars stalled a time warp away from AAA. His started with a vigorous push and mine with some gas borrowed from Riggs.
Red tail hawks and turkey vultures were circling so we kept on the move through stream crossings and "Holy Smoke, look at that hill"! It was steep with a washout along one side and bushes intruding on the other. What the heck, these are Model A's. Even "Big Momma" made it with no problems. Further on we stopped at "the sink" which is a deep canyon with steep cliffs which has been sinking and sloughing off for 40 million years.
Up and down another hill and we make a perilous U-turn. "Big Momma" becomes the leader and Graves becomes the tail gunner. Joel jumped in the back of Glen's truck and the grin on his face couldn't be described. We retraced our route without incident and returned to civilization in the form of Moreno 's Mexican restaurant in Orange where we rehashed a very unique and enjoyable experience. Thanks John Graves for a great tour and thanks to Joel our guide.