Friday, December 28, 2012

Borrego Springs, California--Week Two

To begin our second week at Borrego Springs Bob and I walked toward Clark Dry Lake Bed near our camp site. 
Then it was back to the RV and into the car to go geocaching along County Road S22. After we found a few caches, we decided to drive to Font's Point. The road was quite sandy and rough in places. Actually, it wasn't a road, but a wash. At one point, we almost turned back, but we were only about a half mile from the viewpoint.
It was well worth the drive. I thought we were looking at the Badlands of South Dakota, but these are the Badlands of Borrego. The mounds of silt and rock were deposited by the Colorado River many years ago.
 It was quite a sight!
  We even found a rock to set the camera on so we could get a picture of both of us.
The next day we went hiking with Butch to another slot canyon. The hike started at Palm Wash. We followed the wash until we came to the slot canyon area. 
 This bird didn't seem to want us to hike in the area. He kept fluttering near us and then would land on a rock and just look at us. There must have been a nest nearby.
This was the beginning of the slot area. Unfortunately, when we got to the narrow part of the slot there was quite a climb up a narrow area to get through the slot. I didn't think I could make it and neither did Butch or Bob so we turned around and went exploring other slots in the area.
There were some very interesting slots and rock formations.
We enjoyed exploring the different washes with slots, but none were ones we could access.

Christmas Eve the weather in Borrego Springs was cloudy and windy so Bob and I decided to go across the mountains again to geocache. Bob found a forest service road with many, many caches along it. As we drove up the mountain we saw a complete rainbow.
 Well, once we found the road we discovered it had been closed for the season. We did  find a road a deputy sheriff told us about our first day geocaching (he stopped to talk to us because we had Florida tags and he wants to retire in Florida). The road goes down in a valley and in the middle of no where is a Buddhist Shrine.

There were quite a few statues and pagodas on the property.
After checking out the shrine, we kept driving and ended up in Temecula. It looked like a nice place to visit---any time but Christmas Eve. The traffic was horrendous. We finally got on the interstate heading south and got off on State Road 79 so we could make our way back toward Borrego Springs. Once again we came down Montezuma Valley Road. This time we stopped at the top to take a picture of Borrego Springs. It was dusty as the wind was still blowing pretty hard.

Christmas Day we talked to all our family and wished everyone Merry Christmas. Then Bob and I decided to invite Butch to go hiking again. This time to the other slot canyon near the trail to Calcite Mine. This slot canyon was accessible--barely! The rock formations were awesome as we made out way through the slot.
There was even one that looked like a small arch, but it was just a rock that had fallen over the trail.
We made our way into the slot and the going was pretty easy.
 It was easy until we came to a pile of rocks we had to climb over to continue on the trail.
 Then came the hard part. There was a climb with not much of a hand hold. Butch went up first, then Bob helped me up from below as Butch pulled me up. Whew--there are no pictures of that 'graceful' move! I landed on my stomach like a beached whale, but I made it up.

The hike was pretty much uneventful, but full of great sights until we came to another one of those big climbs. This one was easier than the first thank heavens. We continued on marveling at the way these small rocks looked like they were set in cement in the sides of the canyon walls.
 Getting down the rocks was much easier than climbing up them. Once again we had a great hike.
 That night we were treated to a fantastic sunset.
Wednesday Bob and I decided to drive back to Coachella, geocaching part of the way. We were going to collect our free buffet at the Spotlight 29 Casino.  It turns out that Wednesday was Mexican buffet. We ate more than we should have, but not as much as we used to eat at buffets. While we were in town, we stopped at a local grocery store to get a few items to hold us until we return to Yuma and make a commissary or Wal-Mart shopping trip.

Thursday we didn't do much as we found out that our son-in-law's mother lost her battle with cancer. She fought valiantly for over a year. I know she will be missed by all who knew her. 

Friday will be moving day. Our time at Borrego Springs is up, but it is on our list of places to return as there are twice as many more hikes waiting for us than what we have already done.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Borrego Springs, California--Week One

Rain! That is what we had when we left Owl Canyon Campground. It made the washboard road even worse as we made our way to the highway. I drove the CRV behind Bob as we needed to dump tanks before we got on the road to Borrego Springs. After we dumped our tanks at a local plumbing/RV parts store we hooked the CRV to the RV and we were on the road. We retraced our route south to Yucca Valley and then we veered southwest to I-10. Then it was east to Coachella where we decided to spend the night at Spotlight 29 Casino. We decided to stay in the casino lot as we were still an hour away from our destination and it would be dark by 4:30 p.m. Of course, once we parked at the casino, we had to go inside and check out the place. We learned that if you applied for one of their player cards you received $2 off that day's buffet and you received a free buffet within the next month. Bob and I each got a Spotlight Casino card. We didn't get the $2 off buffet--it was prime rib on Thursday, but we saved our  coupon to return within the month. The night in the casino parking lot was okay, but it was noisier (next to I-10) than I  like and much too bright for sleeping with the number of lights in their parking lot

The next day it was on to Borrego Springs and Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California. Bob had researched the area and knew that we wanted to stay outside Borrego Springs near Peg Leg Road. We just had to keep our eyes open for the RVs parked in the desert along County Road S22. We did make a stop at Red Earth Casino to top off the gas tank in the RV and to fill with fresh water. This is another casino that caters to RVers. They had a free dump, free fresh water and free over night camping. From there it was only about 25 miles to our destination. Once we started seeing RVs in the desert, we found a place to pull off the road and we found a place to set up camp. This area is known for its boondocking (camping without hookups or designated sites). First thing we did was check our Internet and cell phone reception--both good! Then it was time to check television reception--only Mexican channels:( Down went the antenna and down it stayed our entire time at Borrego Springs.
Since we arrived early on Friday, we drove into Borrego Springs to explore the town and to visit the state park information center. One place we wanted to visit was the Marshal South homestead on Ghost Mountain. Marshal South was the pen name of an Australian writer who wanted to get away from the hectic life in Oceanside, California in the 1930s. He and his wife Tanya moved to the primitive mountain top of Ghost Mountain. They lived there with their 3 children for 14 years. The state park offered a guided hike to the mountain top on Saturday morning. Bob and I were game for that trip.

After our stop at the park, we drove around town and saw the life-size sculptures. There were quite a few and after we got back to the RV, we found out that some had geocaches near them so we would visit them again!

 Saturday was a cloudy, chilly morning, but we were determined to make it to Ghost Mountain for the hike at 9:30 a.m. It meant we had to leave our campsite by 8:30 to make sure we arrived on time. It was a nice hike with about 10 people in attendance. The group left the parking area and climbed the mountain for one mile. The Marshal South homestead was on top of a very rocky mountain. The cement bowl in the front of this picture was one of the places the family gathered water.
 I am standing in what is left of the doorway to their adobe house.
 We were parked in the valley and were glad to get back to the car to get warm. The wind was howling as we came down the mountain.
 We wanted to geocache, but it was a little too cold so we continued on up the mountain to the town of Julian. Most of the buildings are on the National Register. Julian is famous for its pies. There are at least 4 shops in town that make apple or pear pies. We tried to get an apple dumpling at Mom's Pies, but they were so crowded, we moved across the street to Apple Alley Pies. I got an apple turnover and Bob chose a cinnamon roll. They would be dessert back at the RV. We ate a late lunch at Julian Coffee Shop. The shop was located at the end of town and due to the cold weather, not many people made it that far down the street. After our trip to Julian it was time to head back to the RV. The days are short and since we are in the eastern part of the Pacific Time Zone, sunset was at 4:30 p.m. We didn't want to be on the road after dark.
 Sunday morning we walked around the campground and found some geocaches in the area. Peg Leg Road is named for Peg Leg Smith a famous miner who once lived in the area. I don't know if he was known for his mining or his tall tales.
 But for those who like to believe the stories about his mining success, here is a special sign....
 ...and the pile of rocks people have added to over the years.
 Monday we chose to hike Palm Canyon Trail. The hike led 1.5 miles to a palm oasis. We had to cross the stream twice.
 One thing we have noticed about the fan palms in the west--no one trims them. The old fronds are supposed to protect the trees from insects.
 Here we are looking down on the palms from a rock area not far from the oasis.
 It was a good hike and as you can see, the weather was warm enough for us to go without jackets or windbreakers.
 Later in the afternoon we decided to do some more geocaching. We couldn't find the cache at the park sign.
 But we were able to find the one hidden on this grasshopper. The dog belonged to someone out for a ride and he had to say hello.
 Another cache was found on this site where the plaque lets you know nothing happened.
 Tuesday we decided to drive toward Warner Springs Resort. There was nothing open at the resort, but we were there to geocache. We drove up Indian Flat Road. There were caches every tenth of a mile all the way to the campground about 7 miles up the mountain. This is a view of the road from almost the top of the mountain.
 Once we found the caches, we were hungry, so we went in search of a place to eat. Warner Springs was closed as were the places at Lake Henshaw. Our last resort was Santa Ysabel Casino. As luck would have it, when you applied for their player's card you qualified for a free surf and turf dinner. Yes, Bob and I had surf and turf as our late lunch. By the time we got back to the RV, it was dark.

The next day it was geocaching again. This time we searched on the other side of town near the sculptures. 
 We thought Christopher and DeAnna would like to see these!
Thursday, we went hiking with a new friend we met camping near us. He suggested The Slot. It was a great hike through a slot canyon in the park.
Some of the passageways were pretty narrow.
Once out of the slot we continued on to a different rock formation. The holes in this rock were very smooth. Anza Borrego Desert Park is Butch's favorite park. He took us on some fantastic hikes.
Then it was time to go back through the slot. We all wondered why this rock was still hanging above the slot.It has some serious fractures that go all the way through the rock.
 There are so many hikes and places to see around Borrego Springs that we decided to stay at least two weeks. This is the end of our first week!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Owl Canyon Campground, Barstow, CA

Friday morning we left Belle Campground and headed farther north to Owl Canyon Campground northwest of Barstow, CA. Once we turned on Fossil Bed Road, we began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into--it was the bumpiest dirt road and we were in the RV, not the car. If Bob went over 5 miles per hour, everything shook until I thought the whole RV would fall apart! Well, about 6 miles later we found the campground and low and behold there was nobody there! We found a nice spot and set up  before settling in for the night. Did I mention that it gets dark around 4:30 p.m.?

Right after we settled in for the night we discovered that we had Internet, cell phone, and television! What a pleasure that was! Bob downloaded geocaches for the area so we would be prepared no matter where we traveled.

That night we heard several cars pull into our area and the people began setting up tents in the dark. The next morning we found that we had a boy scout troop camping a ways down from us.

Saturday morning we decided to go for the two caches near the campground. Here is a view of our RV from one of the caches.
 The other near by cache was a little higher in the hills.
 After that we drove to Rainbow Basin to view the area and find some caches. We  could only pull over to get one of the three caches along this one way drive. There were too many other cars traveling the road for us to pull over and climb the rocks without blocking their way. The one we found was difficult to get a good position to get it. Bob ended up flipping rocks off the cache and then flipping the cache down to our level. There had been a bit of a rock slide since it was placed and there was no safe way to get the container. We moved it down the rock wall about 3 feet to make it safer for other cachers.

Later that afternoon we hiked Owl Canyon. At first it was just a dry wash, then it turned into a slot canyon.
 We had to scramble up some rocks to reach the end of the trail.
 On our way back down the trail, we stopped to look in a cave that the Boy Scouts visited that morning. We knew they had been there because they left their lumi-sticks behind! The red one marks the end of the cave.
 Sunday we played tourists and cached our way to Calico Ghost Town.
 I took a breather on the front porch of the restaurant.
 We enjoyed seeing the old buildings once used by miners and pioneers in the area.
 Okay, this is not one of my favorite shots (of me), but the house was interesting. It is made from old soda bottles.
 This building used the mountain as its back wall.
 On our way back to our camp site we stopped at Peggy Sue's Diner on what used to be Old Route 66. There was even a geocache located behind the diner. All in prep for our next 2 record setting days of geocaching!

Monday we set off to break our record of 80 caches in one day and we did it! We found 100 caches! It was a long day, but we were up for the challenge. Tuesday, we decided to try to break our new record and yes, we beat 100 caches--we found 142 caches! It was a lot of driving down dirt roads, but we did it! Unfortunately, we didn't find all the caches in the area. We could easily have done another day of over 100 caches!

Wednesday we drove around Barstow, mailed some Christmas cards, and did a little shopping. Thursday would be moving day!