Thursday, October 31, 2013


The dragon has landed


Here's lookin' at you

The Claw

Edvard Munch's "The Desert Scream"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Today we hiked the 4.5 mile round trip trail from our campground to the ruins of the historic Victoria Silver Mine in the Sonoran Desert. There were lots of interesting cacti to see along the way, and then when we got to the mine, Darell explored the various mine shafts and surrounds, and I concentrated on the building ruins.
A long view of the building ruins
Side view through the two windows
Through the door
Through the far window
From inside the building
Just the outside corner of the building, with the mountains in the distance, and a shiny, ore-filled rock in the foreground
And when we returned home to the Chinook, Scout was waiting for us, looking out onto the desert.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


We left Coyote Mountain in Anza-Borrego State Park yesterday.
Goodbye to our awesome dispersed site at Anza-Borrego
We headed out of town to the sight of gathering clouds, a few raindrops, and higher elevations. Forty-five minutes later we were in the little quaint town of Julian (elevation: three thousand and something feet) where it rained, and was so foggy and cold that we had to change out of our shorts, dig out the sweaters from the bottom of the closet, and put away the flip-flops. It was all worth it though; Julian is known for their apples, and for their outstanding Apple Pie. We also bought Apple-shaped Cookies. And Apple Nut Bread. Here's what's left of the pie today (notice we've foregone the plates):

Dutch Crunch Julian Apple Pie from the Julian  Pie Company
Driving through rain and fog, searching for a place to spend the night, we traveled higher and higher, through Cleveland National Forest. Oak trees, pines, and shrubs shared space with majestic rock outcroppings, and the changing autumn colors were beautiful! We found a free campground just past a town called Mt. Laguna and thought we might camp, until we fired up the laptop to check the weather forecast - snow. Snow! It turns out that we were at over 5,000 ft., and anything like warm desert weather was just a fond memory. We pressed on. A few hours later we were in Yuma, Arizona, where we spent the night.

Today we reached our destination of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument; we're staying at the Twin Peaks (nothing like the t..v. show) Campground, where we hope to do some nice hikes. We're very close to Mexico ("I can see it from my front porch").
View from our campsite

An Organ Pipe Cactus
A Saguaro Cactus

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013


A day of RV cleaning, taking showers, dumping tanks, taking on fresh water, dealing with corporations re: billing issues, a little laundry, a touch of shopping (hiking-shoe laces. sunscreen. tomatoes. pecan-maple bread. Just the basics.) and then back home. This weekend is "Borrego Days" here in Borrego Springs, and the town is gearing up for a rousing influx of tourists anxious to see vendor booths (not quite sure what they're all selling), high school marching bands, and other desert-type stuff. We just wanted to get out of their way, so we've stocked up on yarn, wine, and local bread (Dudley's Bakery has some outstanding loaves in the store here - we've been living on the "Western Wheat Gourmet Buns" for several days now!). As we left town, a long line of portable toilets and dumpsters were being placed in the town center (I think they're expecting 8,000 people or so, tomorrow and Sunday) - it should be fun for those that enjoy parades and so on. We'll be out here on the desert for the weekend, possibly heading out on Monday...

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Today we hiked to Coyote Mountain, and explored as high up as we could get (I guess coyotes can climb up rocky grades better than we can!). The mountain is a little ways from our campsite. As we went up, I took photos of Clark's Lake (Dry), which was used in the past as a radio observatory, and as a bombing target for the military. I kept imagining what the yellow-brown lake-bed would look like if it were as blue as a clear mountain lake! On the mountain we saw coyote caves and lots and lots and lots of rocks - the diversity of the rocks here is astounding!

At the base of Coyote Mountain, looking toward the Dry Lake
Ocatillo, with the lake in the background
A Coyote cave - they yip a lot at night here!

Looking down from the mountain - our Chinook is down on the far plain
This shrub is as white as bones - it's not dead though, just dormant
Teeny Darell at the top of one of the peaks

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Two nights in a row now we've had a preponderance of flying things (bugs) inside the RV - when we turn on the light, they all gather round it and fly at it as if it were home. Last night (after a beautiful sunset, photo below), we figured out that if we turn on the light closest to the back door until they congregate there, then quickly turn on the outdoor light while simultaneously turning off the indoor light and opening the back door, most of the little monsters fly out! What a ritual! But it works! Here's the photo of the sunset:
When one is dispersed camping, there are often "fire rings" to show where others have disperse camped before you, and they mark "undesignated" campsites. We haven't used our closest fire ring (as we use the stove in the RV for cooking/coffee making, and we definitely don't need it for heat!), but here are some fire rings we've discovered near our site and on our explorations of surrounding desert:
Today we discovered a small grove of Tamarisk shrubs (they used to be enormous shade trees, but have been cut down, only to grow multi-branched as shrubs). It's said that a Tamarisk tree can use up to 200 gallons of water a day, and although they make great shade trees, this is not good for the surrounding desert natives. This little grove we came upon may have been a homestead at one time, but other than the trees, and two stumps that look like they may have marked an entrance, there are no signs of life.
Unexpected green Tamarisk shrubs growing in a rectangle, from a distance
Two tree stumps mark what may have been an entrance to a homestead or other building

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


We're still in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, but now we've moved from the campground out of town a bit, near Coyote Mountain and Clark's Lake (Dry), in the dispersed camping area. It's more barren here than in Palm Canyon, but the price is right (free), and the afternoon breezes are just as cooling! We found a space where previous folks made rock symbols, so we saw it as a sign and pulled in. Today we went into Borrego Spings to pick up and post mail, and do a little shopping at the Local Yarn Shop, On Pins and Needles. We just left our outdoor chairs and rugs at our site in the middle of nowhere - and they were waiting when we got home.
Peace and Love rocks welcome us to our site
Darell sitting outside the Chinook, daytime view of the moon over Coyote Mountain
Bought some gorgeous Ella Rae "Classic Sand Art" wool here - great shop!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Today we rested. And watched all (or most) of the other campers pack up their gear and drive off - after the quiet weekdays, on Friday and Saturday the campground filled up with the sounds of happy kids, the sight of people brushing their teeth in public, and the smell of campfire smoke. And then they all left, in a puff, this morning. We made the .6 mile hike to the Visitor's Center to ask about some of the nearby campgrounds and trails. It turns out that very few hiking trails are accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles right now, so we may just move on. We might spend a day or two doing some dispersed camping just outside of the town of Borrego Springs, in the nearby Badlands area (we did a little scoping out of the area today). It's quite hot today, so we're just sitting back, enjoying the breezes, the silence, and the mountains.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today we went down to the Tamarisk Grove Campground (which is closed until Nov. 1 - they are adding cabins and re-paving the roads) and attempted 3 hikes in the vicinity. The first one was the Yaqui Well Trail, which was washed out at first (3 severe storms over the summer damaged trails all over this area, according to the Park Ranger), but we were able to pick up the trail and head for the Well Spring. Unfortunately, there was no water in the spring, but we saw many varieties of cacti - they're fascinating (and they also hurt when the spines get in your shoes or scrape across your arm or legs!)  Then we tried the Cactus Loop Trail, but it was so washed away that we lost the trail after a bit and had to turn back. The last trail of the day was the William Kenyon Loop Trail at the Yaqui Pass summit, where we saw many different cacti (especially the barrel cactus, which is round to barrel-shaped and has a pinkish tinge to its spines), beautiful desert vistas, a blooming Agave plant (they only bloom in their 75th year, and a huge grasshopper was also checking out the blossoms!), and a simple-looking shrub that turned out to be a fascinating stopping place for bees, butterflies, and caterpillars!
Barrel cacti, Ocatillo, and other cacti

Barrel cactus

More Barrel cactus
View of mountains and arroyos
Agave Plant

Agave Plant with bloom and Grasshopper

Grasshopper on Agave Plant Bloom
This shrub was teeming with life: butterflies, bees, caterpillars, insects