It had been over a month since we went anywhere, which in our book is a long time, so we decided to head out again. This time over the hill to Anza Borrego with friends Gary and Diane and neighbors/friends Willie and Patty. Willie and Patty had recently purchased a motor home and wanted to go on a shakedown cruise so it was all the excuse we needed. The plan was to include some four wheeling, some exploring, some partaking in happy hour and some swapping of lies around the campfire. We managed to follow the plan without any difficulty at all, especially the happy hour part.
CAMP AT BLAIR VALLEY
For those readers who are unfamiliar with Anza Borrego Desert State Park, it is the largest state park in the country and is located in eastern San Diego County. Having lived in San Diego for our entire lives, Cathie and I were surprised to learn that Patty and Willie had never been to Borrego, so we took it upon ourselves to remedy the situation.
Any tour of the Anza Desert region must include a stop at the Pumpkin Patch. After following various 4-wheel drive type trails, we took a break to walk among the pumpkins. This Unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing these globular sandstone concretions. Such concretions are believed to be formed by the natural cementing of sand particles to a small object such as a piece of shell, a grain of sand, or even an insect.
I know that California is the Nanny State, but seeing a toilet with handicapped parking out here in the middle of the desert is beyond belief. Can you imagine the cost of construction in a location 10 miles or more from the nearest paved road. The bathroom is a nice touch, but a concrete apron painted with the mandatory blue symbol? There's something wrong here.
We then made a stop at Seventeen Palms Oasis, located in the badlands east of the town of Borrego Springs. As the spring here was unreliable, early travelers with extra water would leave it in large glass jars. Thirsty visitors came to rely on the jars hidden in the shade of the palms. The desert wanders would leave notes attached to the jars. Today the custom of leaving messages in the prospector's post office is carried on by visitors. In the post office barrel hidden in the 17 palms among the bases, lies a visitor's log book, notes and of course, bottles of water.
PATTY READING THE MAIL
SANDSTONE CLIFFS IN CANYON SIN NOMBRE
We to another excursion to the southern part of the park where we traveled down Canyon Sin Nombre, a beautiful canyon with high sandstone walls. After Canyon Sin Nombre we headed up Arroyo Tapiado which along with the aforementioned canyon are located in the Carrizo Badlands. Hidden in the mud hills of the arroyo are numerous mud caves, carved out during the infrequent rains. You can explore the caves if you have a mind to, but some of them are pretty scary. We checked out Chasm Cave, easy to enter through a very narrow crack in the arroyo wall. This cave is large with high ceiling and a beautiful skylight.
LUNCH IN ARROYO TAPIADO
ANOTHER BREAK, SHEEP CANYON THIS TIME.
We spent some time checking out the numerous metal sculptures which are found on open land around the outskirts of Borrego Springs. Philanthropist and Borrego resident Dennis Avery purchased over 3000 acres around the town to prevent the land from ever being developed. Calling the land Galleta Meadows Estate, he opened the land to the public. In 2008 he hired artist Ricardo Breceda of Parris, California to build metal sculptures of prehistoric beasts that once roamed the Borrego Valley. Today there are over 130 of these sculptures spread out over Galleta Meadows for the viewing pleasure of those who discover them.