After the last few days of rain, today was clear and windy. I finally dragged myself out to a vantage point where I could see something of the mountains… just at sunset. This is looking northeast toward the San Gabriel Mountains from the edge of a vacant lot on the former MCAS Tustin. (You can see one of the two blimp hangars at the right.)

Snow-covered San Gabriels and blimp hangar at sunset

Update: Monday morning I went back to the same spot before work and took some photos in daylight. Katie said it looked like someone had sifted powdered sugar over the mountains.

San Gabriels, capped with snow, and blimp hanger in daylight

Back to Sunday evening, I crossed the street and got some more pictures without the fence and saplings in the foreground, and stayed out until the light had faded. The view was clear all the way west along the range to Mt. Wilson. I also looked back toward the sunset, which lit up the edges of a cloud with a red-gold glow.

Cloud backlit by sunset

On a clear day in early October, I went driving up into the Tustin Foothills to see what I could see. I took a bunch of photos at a turnout, and also stopped at an intersection that gave me a nice view of Peters Canyon, the hills behind it, and Saddleback in the background. I used this photo a few weeks later for my drought post.

After the Santiago Fire, I waited for another clear day (which took several weeks), and set out to do it again and see just how far north the fire had reached. I managed to get a great pair of before and after photos from the intersection of Foothill and Lemon Heights.

Mt. Saddleback seen from Tustin foothills, October 2007
October 6, 2007. Click for a larger version

Mt. Saddleback seen from Tustin foothills, November 2007
November 24, 2007. Click for a larger version

While the orchards seem to have been spared, you can see the field in the foreground looks scorched, and most of the trees making up firebreaks seem to have died. More dramatic are the hillsides. Before the fire, you can see expansive dark patches of scrub, wide expanses of lighter dried grass, and occasional dark green bushes. Now it’s all dirt, except for the blackened remnants of the bushes. There are several gullies whose sides were hidden and softened by the ground cover, but are now starkly visible. And after this week’s rain, they’re probably eroded even more.

A few notes: The air was somewhat clearer for the “after” photo, and it was earlier in the afternoon, so the angle of the sunlight helped pick out terrain features a bit better.

The Whole Foods market in Tustin (the only one in Orange County, as far as I can tell), is moving to the new District shopping center going in at the corner of Barranca and Jamboree, on the site of the former MCAS Tustin Marine base. Several of the big box stores are open already, but they haven’t moved yet. In fact, yesterday, they were only part way through putting up the sign:

Sign: Whole Foo

We drove around a bit, exploring the shopping center and the two segments of road that have been completed so far. Outside the shopping center, there’s not much to see yet except for barren fields and empty lots sweeping back toward the two blimp hangars and, off in the distance, a building complex on the far side of the former base.

Southeast blimp hangar at former MCAS Tustin
Southeast blimp hangar viewed from corner of Tustin Ranch Rd. and Warner Ave.