LANCASTER, CA – APRIL 23, 2014 – A group of “retired school teachers ” (didn’t want names) hikes through the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve near Lancaster on April 23, 2014. What the state park volunteers are calling the “miracle year” is in full bloom in time for the Poppy Festival which is this weekend April 26 – 27 at the Lancaster City Park. The near 3 inches of rain in late March has helped create one of the best blooms in years in the surrounding Antelope Valley. The Reserve is open from sunrise through sunset but best times are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the poppy petals are open to the sunlight. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)