Wilderness Gardens is the largest open preserve space in San Diego County. The best part about driving 45 minutes to Pala for a hike is that you usually have the entire park to yourself. The 737 acre preserve only has a few hiking trails but it is full of happy and healthy plants and animals. The highlight for me was the red velvet ant, a wingless female wasp. Although there are 150 species of velvet ants living throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico you don’t come across them too often. My only regret about the day was letting her walk on my hand. The females don’t have wings but they do have a stinger, while the males have wings and don’t have a stinger. Nature is so curious.