When you see galloping metal mustangs jumping over California Highway 79 in Temecula, stop the car and turn around. The horses are a startling roadside site that will lead you to the man who made them.
I pulled off the two-lane winding highway in late November while driving from Temecula to the Anza Borrego Desert. Earlier I had seen a stagecoach pulled by horses and a T. Rex with signs inviting all to come visit Ricardo Breceda's studio.
Enter the Vail Lake Resort RV Park (they give you an hour of free parking if you tell them you're visiting Breceda's studio) and follow the signs to see the metal menagerie the artist keeps here. In a quiet oak grove below the highway sits a warehouse surrounded by animals, real and imagined.
Marlins and dinosaurs share space with scorpions and bears; figures are mostly Old West types of cowboys, and Native Americans that seem to fit in the woodland setting. But you'll also find a polo player or a buxom mermaid.
Inside are small sculptures of motorcycles, radiantly polished suns and musicians with ant bodies.
Breceda, originally from Durango, Mexico, says he's a self-taught artist. His first work was a 20-foot-tall T. Rex, and now horses are his favorite subjects. They have curly metal manes that seem to bristle in the wind.
One of his more notable sculptures stands in Borrego Springs: a 350-foot serpent whose head and body pop out of the desert sand.
Everything here is for sale with small sculptures starting at $100, and big dinosaurs $700 and up. Mostly it's fun to see the sculptures, snap selfies and talk with the artist who says folks may visit whether or not he's there.
Info: Ricardo Breceda, (951) 236-5896; studio at Vail Lake Resort, 38000 Highway 79, Temecula.