We turned away from Mecca and headed south towards Anza Borrego State Park. We found it amusing that they name their washes, we read the names of them as we passed by what is left of Salton City, and on to Borrego Springs. The area is surprisingly pretty, with many colored cliffs, clefts, and canyons dropping down on either side of the roadway. I am not sure about the rest of the park, but the Eastern side is a huge off-roading area. It seemed that every plateau had RVs camped upon it. Tall flagpoles jutting up skyward, with various flags fluttering in the desert breeze. Surrounding the RVs at these encampments were various big boy (and girl) toys; Jeeps, Polarises, dirt bikes, dune buggies, and the like. In the distance, clouds of dust rose up from the off roaders. It looked like a whole lot of fun!
Several miles later as we came over a rise on the road, we could make out what appeared to be an oasis in the middle of the barren landscape. In actuality it was Borrego Springs, the only town in the state park. What a cute town it is too! In the middle of town, is a large roundabout called christmas circle, and in the middle of the roundabout is a large greenspace, and on that particular weekend, a local art show.
Our first order of business was to find the dragon/serpent sculpture on the outskirts of town!
It didnt take long before Frankie and Maggie were hiding in the shade of the sculpture while “mom and dad” happily snapped pictures. With the serpent captured (on film) we sought out grasshopper vs scorpion! We put our camper and our goat in the middle of the epic struggle!… but they were too much for us and we had to flee towards our campground up Montezuma Valley Rd. This road, by the way, is not in a valley, it ascends up the mountain a few thousand feet until finally taking us to our destination, the free Culp Valley Primitive Campground. The temperature at Culp Valley was a good 30 degrees lower than on the valley floor, and strong cool breeze was ever present. We unhooked the camper next to a large pile of huge boulders, and I turned on the water in order to do a few dishes. It was the first time I had turned on the water in the camper since a week before we left Oregon… it seems like our Oregon field mouse had chewed another hole in the water lines. Consequently we had to return to Borrego Springs ASAP in order to hit up a hardware store for the one tiny pex union I was lacking to fix the problem. They did not carry it😡… on a whim I called a local plumber, who met me at an intersection and sold one to me! When life gives you lemons….
We hit up the grocery store, and drove back to camp where I completely disassembled the “kitchen” and fixed the chewed waterline! We made dinner and hit the hay. That night, to our amazement, the campground filled up. We are not used to being in such close proximity to people, it was a bit strange hearing all the activity outside our camper.
The next day was paint and hike day… meaning I hike, and Cate paints. Since pets, are not allowed on the trails, it was up to me to enjoy the desert and get some photos for us. I chose Hellhole Canyon and Maidenhair Falls. Hellhole Canyon was anything but, it was a pleasant hike through the blooming ocotillo, ferocacti, yucca, and prickly pear. Entering the canyon was like walking into an oasis. Between the steep hillsides was a grove of palm trees and everything was lush and green…. quite the contrast from the previous 2 miles.
At the end of the canyon where the waterfall was supposed to be, was a small pool of water, and behind it was a vertical garden clinging to the rock. Birds and insects flitted around in the lush vegetation. I tarried a bit and then turned back, Cate was probably hungry and we needed groceries. We fell asleep to the howling of the coyotes, all prepped to make our way to San Diego the following day. We also finally had our opportunity to try out our Epic Wipes! The company reached out to us and kindly sent some of these wipes. They are perfect for taking a “bath” when you have no access to a real water source. They are HUGE biodegradable baby wipes with germ killing eucalyptus oil, refreshing , and can be reusable!
San Diego was not far, perhaps 80 miles away. It was a short but beautiful drive. We weren’t sure where to stay, so we picked out Syquan Casino parking lot. It was not much to speak of, noisy all night, but it would do in a pinch and was free! We took a quick trip up the valley to Alpine Brewing for some great beer and to collect some good advice on what to do and see in the San Diego area. The next day we went to Balboa Park in downtown San Diego (thanks Bobby)! This place is AMAZING! Rose gardens, cactus gardens, 17 museums, a zoo, many fountains, and gorgeous spanish architecture dot this 1200 acre urban park!
Later we went to the beach where we met Valentina and David! They messaged us later and invited us over for drinks and dinner! We gladly accepted and ended up making new friends and enjoyed their incredible dinner and company! We retired to our camper across the street from their house, and woke up early to escape before the madness of the day’s upcoming presidential visit traffic.
This day was the L.A./Hollywood leg of the trip, the day I had been wary of since Cate made it known she wanted to quickly drive through there. The trip to L.A. itself wasn’t quite as bad as I expected, but it was nerve wracking nonetheless. The challenging part was attempting to find a good vantage point to get a photo of the camper with the Hollywood sign in the background. We were not entirely successful. We did make a few trips up and down the strip, saw the chinese theatre, walk of stars etc. Honestly it wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. It was more Gatlinburg, Tennessee, only with better architecture in the surrounding neighborhoods. Frankie enjoyed cruising the strip though.
Alas our time in L.A. was short, and the notorious Los Angeles Rush Hour was breathing down our necks. It was our intention to go back south of town, stay at another casino, and try again the following day, but I wasn’t about to do that at 5 o’clock, and we had nowhere to park until later. North we went! We dropped by a cool little place called the Surly Goat in Encino, and then bedded down for the night at Tejon Pass rest area further up the road. We were excited for the next day, to be free from the cities, and head out to the solitude of the Carrizo Plain National Monument!