Sunday, March 24, 2013

Borrego Springs, California

March 24, 2013:

We bid our farewell to Agua Caliente Park and continued down California S2 through very pretty scenery to Rt 78 East then onto California S3.  California S3 goes over Yaqui Pass which was a very steep and sharp curvy climb that was thrilling to drive.  We arrived at Borrego Springs around noon and found our way to Rockhouse Road and picked out a spot to boondock.  We have a spectacular view of the Santa Rosa Mountains ahead, the Coyote Mountains on the left and in the distance the Clark Dry Lake Bed. The geology here is incredible, the mountains are still rising, the valley is dropping, but the erosion of the mountains washing into the valley maintains the same level in the valley.  The Santa Rosa Mountains have amazing colors, shapes and shadows, they almost don't look real. Anza-Borrego State Park

We then explored downtown Borrego Springs, a nice small downtown with a few good stores and restaurants, appears to be a pretty upscale senior community.  There is nothing very photogenic about it except for the surrounding mountains and the palm trees.  No old buildings, no murals, no graffiti, no dive bars, no train tracks, not a lot of character.  It was a burning hot day on Friday, 94 degrees, seems to be a heat wave in the area, about 10-15 degrees higher than normal and we are feeling it.  As a result, we took hiking out of our weekend plan, instead we went to the art show in downtown Borrego Springs on Saturday and took a ride to the Salton Sea area on Sunday.  

The Salton Sea looks beautiful from a distance but up close and personal it is a nasty, smelly, dumpy place. We took the road sign for the beach expecting something nice and scenic.  What we found was a deserted smelly beach with rotting fish, foul looking water, lots of deserted buildings, lots of trash, it was very sad.  The Salton City area in general looks like a real estate scheme gone totally bad !  We did have an enlightening experience in this poor trashy depressing area.  I stopped to take a photo at a deserted building next to a poor looking trailer park and these four cute happy young kids ran up to us wishing us a happy St. Patricks day and giving us a handful of real shamrocks they had picked, they were the highlight of our day.

We have serious wind issues at this camp site, every night, shortly after dark, the wind starts, then intensifies throughout the night to near hurricane force.  On the first night, the kitchen area slide was rocking so we retracted the bedroom and kitchen slides, but still the roof vents were flapping, the RV was rocking, all sorts of wind noises and rattles.  We initially thought that it was a weather front coming through, no big deal, but it seems to be the norm here, almost every night.  

The Anza-Borrego Park is huge and has incredible terrain, lots of excellent hiking, camping and jeep roads.  On Monday morning we took a beautiful hike on the Alcoholic Pass Trail, it was a steep strenuous climb to the Pass, then a gentle downhill to a large wash.  They say the trail name comes from this being a shortcut to the bar in town, or something like that. I can't imagine needing a drink that badly.  The views from the Pass, the mountains, the rocks, the spring flowers and the cactus flowers were well worth the hike. Also the ride to the trailhead was special going through the Orange and grapefruit groves. 

Back to the monsoon wind situation, we repositioned the rig to turn it to face into the NW wind, it was much better, not so much rocking, but still lots of wind noise.  It's now 5 AM Tuesday morning, the wind is howling and and I feel like I'm on a small wooden boat out on the ocean in a storm. The wind didn't really stop until noon time, we considered moving to another location, but nothing else appears that much better.  So, I added more wheel chocks, cranked up on the X-chocks again and we will stick it out here a while longer.  What an adventure !  Somehow in this process I twisted the wrong way and pulled my back out.  This happens to me about once a year, but this is not a real good time for it, so many cool hiking trails to do here, that's killing me. 

This has been a tough week so far, first the cat dying, then my back issue, then I get a call from my credit card fraud prevention service about suspicious charges (which I confirmed were not my charges) and now the credit card is closed out and they are sending me a new one. Twinkles amazingly has the same issue with her credit card. It's a good thing we have backup cards. 

Friday AM, the wind was particularly strong all night until 4 AM or so, now it's calm and a beautiful day.  I now understand why this area of the desert is mostly only Creosote bushes and low growing grasses, other plants like cactus can not survive in this wind.  That's also why no one lives here, it seems to be a no-mans land, it's not BLM land, Borrego State Park land or privately owned.  In spite of my back pain, we went for an easy two mile hike to a place called Yaqui Well.  It was beautiful trail with many small wildflowers in bloom (still tying to figure out the names) and we saw hundreds of blooming Pincushion cactus for the first time.  It is an actual low lying spot where there is water and this is a real Indian trail that was used by the natives for centuries.  It feels special to be walking in their very footsteps. 

On Saturday a 3-4 mile hike on the Hellhole Canyon trail just outside of the Anza-Borrego visitors Center, another great popular hiking trail.  We saw our first Hedgehog cactus in bloom and there were huge towering Ocotillo plants and some Agaves with huge bayonets already shooting upward 4-5 feet high. The Barrel and Cholla cactus are just starting to bloom also. The next week is going to get exciting on the trail. I hope my back can take it, also my lungs ?  Lots of dust in the air even though the wind stopped, the mountain views were all hazy.  Saturday night was a treat, we went downtown for dinner at Carlee's Bar & Grill, then back to the camp and for the first time all week, all night and no wind !

Anza-Borrego week two starting, stay tuned for more action.

Twinkles and Slick

Peg Leg Smith Momument

View of the Clark Dry Lake 

The cute kids with their Irish shamrocks

Ajo Lilly in bloom

The Salton Sea

Ocotilla's in bloom from Alcoholic Pass Trail

View from Alcoholic Pass Trail

Beautiful Beavertail Prickley Pear Cactus

The Borrego valley from the Alcoholic Pass Trail

Barrel Cactus in bloom

View of the Santa Rosa Mountains from our RV

Agave plants sending up new bayonets

Cholla Cactus in bloom

Another Beavertail in bloom

Impressive Hedgehog Cactus

Pin Cushion Cactus in bloom

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