Anza Borrego, Week 2
Jan 18, 2008
|It's quite likely that this "journal" becomes less travel oriented leaning more towards mindless commentary! We will try, nevertheless, to keep it interesting. Why so? With the economic picture looking a bit bleak we're thinking it might be wise to just stay right here for awhile and conserve on fuel and expenses and we couldn't ask for a better location.
We're surrounded by so much natural beauty which costs us practically nothing. Boondocking on the public land here is free (for now) and we can generate our own power with a large bank of solar panels plus generator. Our storage tanks are large with enough capacity to last us close to 2 weeks before driving a few miles up to the State Park headquarters to replenish fresh water supply and dump the holding tanks.
These trips usually mean spending the day and hiking up the Palm Canyon trail which is both beautiful and a bit strenuous with some rock-hoping involved, especially after the massive flash flood of two years ago seriously changed the landscape. We are most often rewarded with close encounters and photo ops of the native desert Bighorn Sheep that reside here.
In all the years we have been coming here, whether for a week or a month, we always exclaim how most folks like us who park on these lands are such good custodians. The hundreds of acres available for parking is kept surprisingly pristine. Why spoil a good thing? We will be taking side trips in the jeep to many of the various points of interest throughout a 50+ mile radius. The park is so large and vast it would take days to fully cover it properly. The little town of Borrego Springs, with only a couple thousand residents, offers much to enjoy: several nice restaurants to choose from, adequate shopping, lodging, golf and some quite fancy RV resorts for those with like mind.
On Friday we leave early for the weekly farmers' market held at Christmas Circle to get the best picks of all the local produce, crafts and flowers trucked in from nearby farms. We load up on vegetables for the week and then head over to Seley Red's citrus farm for a large bag of their delicious grapefruit, purchased on the "honor system" and now up to $3.50 a bag from years of only $3! The little Center Market in town is adequate for basics and staples though if you manage to get there at just the right time you could be rewarded with fresh bread from Dudley's Bakery, located near the little town of Julian!
I guess you know you have planted yourself for awhile when someone insists that the motorhome be moved twice, in probably 3 foot increments, so as Venus and the sunrise are properly positioned outside one's bedroom window! Oh, the patience of this man! And that also means re-programming the satellite TV and moving all the appropriate outside chairs and mats each time! Welcome to Mindless Commentary!
January 20th: With an afternoon of football coming up, we decided a long hike would be in order this morning. OK, so it was only a little over 4 miles, but it was up and down the mountain. OK, so it isn't a huge mountain but it is steep and rocky and now we have to walk 1.25 miles just to get to the trailhead. And the first trip for us is always a little daunting. But this is an excellent opportunity for some landscape photos and we also carry along the "big guy" zoom lens for a trial run.
A weather report might be appropriate at this time. It has cooled off quite a bit. High today is 64, low of 40. This coming week remains in the low 60's with a possible shower toward the end of the week. We're already seeing "green" sprouts popping up, especially the desert lillies, so think this will be a spectacular "flower" year!
January 22nd proved to be not only a beautiful day but one full of photo ops. Starting at about 6:45 a.m. with me hanging out my window (which is now perfectly positioned facing east) taking pictures of an exquisite sunrise. Then later in the day, about 4 p.m. we drive up to Font's Point, at the end of a 4 mile long 4WD road up a sandy wash, to the amazing overlook of the Borrego Badlands and await what turns out to be the most exquisite sunset followed by the full moon rising! The moon, incidentally was bright orange probably due to some dust particles as we looked out toward the Salton Sea. Though quite cold, we shared this experience with two Canadian couples who came fully prepared toting a portable propane "fireplace" and table and chairs in which to enjoy their cocktails and snacks! We pretended not to notice, of course!
We had a couple of good drives this week. One took us up Montezuma Grade (S-22), an intimidating series of switchbacks and sheer rocky cliffs with over 3000' elevation gain in 10 miles. We stopped at Culp Valley and had planned to take a short hike but with rain and freezing cold temps we just jumped out of the jeep briefly for a few pictures.
Closer to home, we drove into Rockhouse Canyon, past Clark dry lake bed which has a lot of history. The Cahuilla Indians took winter refuge in the mesquite sand dunes on the north side of Clark Lake near the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. There are several original homestead sites around Clark with one on the north side of the valley near these dunes. Remnants of cabins can be found near Clark Well (elev. 564') which was the first water tap in the Borrego area. It came in 1904.
The middle of the Clark lakebed was the location of the University of Maryland's Clark Lake Radio Observatory from 1963 through the mid-1980s. The structure and much of the long wire antenna remained there until it was torn down in the late 1990s. The U.S. Army built a dirt road along the west side of Clark Lake in the 1940s when the area was used for practice maneuvers and as an auxiliary and emergency military landing strip (1941-1944).
We conclude our second week with snow on the surrounding mountains!