Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break in the desert

Anza Borrego State Park, California -- Winter means lots of snow in our mountain home, and sand is what we spread on icy roads.,
The desert is not something I really know, despite a few visits over the years.
So when friends Gary and Jeri invited us to explore the desert country that bumps up against the Mexican border we jumped at the chance.It was an easy choice: they provided the giant RV, food, and friendship. We contributed our charming personalities and a few bucks for gas.
Our base in the desert was the giant Anza Borrego State Park, more than 600,000 acres of sand, mountains, hills, dry washes, oases, and lots of things that fly, crawl or run. Plus a lot of snowbirds in their RVs escaping winter, just as we were doing.
Campgrounds in the desert are not like the tree covered plots we know from the mountains or back east. Until you look closely the desert has a lot of sameness to it, and RV camping areas look a lot like RV sales lots. But the neighborhood is quieter, dominated at night by the yowls of coyote off in the brush,and the hoots of owls.
Definitely a lizard of some kind, maybe a Blue-tailed Skink?

At daybreak birds sing including the cooing of dove and western Quail calling their distinct “Chi-CA-go, Chi-CA-go,” sounds. (Seems like a western bird should be saying "Camp CON nel, Camp CON nel" or something more localized.)
Gary and Jeri have been coming to this spot for almost 40 years, and were our tour guides and enthusiastic encouragers when the trails got hot and dusty.
Among the highlights were spotting a group of Big Horn Sheep on the canyon wall and rim, and spotting a rare Red Diamondback Rattlesnake about four feet long who moved slow in the proper direction -- away from us.
The desert is full of life, waiting for you to visit.
The photos tell the story.

A landslide in the sandstone canyon blocked our four-wheel excursion after about 15 miles into the back country. But the tire tracks indicated someone got through!
Big Horn Sheep survive in this remote place. They keep their distance from hikers, and a watchful eye from the rim of the canyon wall.
Pat, Jeri and Gary take a close look at the complex geology. This used to be the bottom of the Salton sea when it was connected to what is now the Sea of Cortez.

The oases near the top of Palm Canyon was almost wiped out by a flash flood a few years ago, but is making a comeback.
Jeri takes a break in the shade, and a chance to dry her boots which were soaked crossing a creek.

Pat enjoying the warm weather and sunshine.
The start of the trail.
Toward the end of a perfect day, the perfect sunset.

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