We were itchin' for some sun after our more-than-dreary winter this year. But luck wasn't with us this year. It was sunny in Anza Borrego but it was cold and windy. As expected, the wildflower show was small to non-existent. The fall and winter rains just didn't materialize in California.
We arrived on-time in Ontario and I started a long string of mishaps by leaving my travel folder and hiking book on the plane. Darn if I didn't realize it just as I passed out of security. Fortunately, I kept my boarding pass so I was to go back to the gate and they went on board and found it. It was actually quite fast and I got to baggage before our luggage had been unloaded.
We got our car, a mid-sized Dodge Stratus from Thrifty. Again, I left the folder! This was a sign of things to come. It did take us a while to get baggage and our car so we didn't get on the freeway until almost 10:45 after arriving at 9:40. I was so glad to have the mid-size. I swear everyone seemed to be driving large SUVs. I've never seen so many Hummers on the road. Soon we were flying down I-15 at 75-80 mph and still being passed.
We pulled off at Lake Elsinore at 11:30 and lunched at the In and Out Burger. We made it to the trail head at Santa Rosa Plateau by 12:30. We had realized that we were actually a little early for the wildflowers. Everything still looked asleep But we found our quarries - Salvia apiana (white sage) and Salvia mellifera (black sage).
On to the desert after a stop for groceries at Ralph's in Temecula. We came across patches of snow near Warner Springs. The forecast was for rain but we had hopes that it wouldn't happen.
We made it to Borrego Springs by 5:00 and checked into our Casita. It was very clean and nicely furnished in a mix of tropical and southwestern decor. It was going to be perfect for the weekend. We relaxed and had a nice dinner of ravioli before heading to bed.
The next day, we made a stop in Borrego Springs to check out what was available in town. Not much. There was a grocery store
and a handful of restaurants. We checked out Jilbertos Tacos and made a plan to return for dinner. We went on to the visitor's center at the State Park to get information on where there might be flowers in bloom. The ranger suggested a short walk up Surprise Canyon just behind the restrooms at the Hellhole Canyon trailhead. We also had plans to visit Culp Valley and the parking lot was on our way up.
We headed up Montezuma's Grade to Culp Valley. It was cold and very windy. The distant mountains between the desert and the coast were covered with snow. But we found another salvia. We thought it might be Salvia vaseryi since our trail plant guide said it was supposed to be one there but we think it was really just an apiana or a cross between the two. The plant we found had tall seed spikes which are found on apiana instead of the whorled ones found on vaseryi.
The views were stunning but I couldn't take the wind any longer so we headed back. We found the parking lot this time and went for a short walk up Surprise Canyon. We found several interesting items in bloom, Ocotillo, chuparosa, phacila and best of all several barrel cactus in bloom. But more importantly, we did finally find Salvia vaseryi.
We had a few more hours of daylight so we decided to try to find another location suggested by the ranger, Plum Canyon. By time we got over Yaqui Pass, the weather turned cloudy, cold and windy again. We pulled off the road and checked out some agaves in bloom before heading back. At the top of Yaqui Pass, we decided to take the short xxx loop and watched the shadows lengthen before the sun set.
We headed back to town for dinner at Jarmillos. It was definitely cheap but so-so. I liked my Carne Asada Tacos; nice chuncks of seasoned beef with guacamole on warm soft tortillas. G's chile rellenos were so-so. They were anaheim chiles with some strange cheese filling and a very thick batter. The sauce wasn't great either. Oh well maybe we should have went to Pablitos instead?
Back at the casita, G discovered that we had HBO and we caught part of the Sopranos. It was the season opener. Whoa! what a shocker. We made a note to catch the full show the next night.
Our last day dawned sunny but windy again. We headed south towards Mexico after filling up. Filling the half empty tank cost more than it did to fill my little hybrid! The drive took us down over the pass used by the original stagecoach line to Southern California. What an arduous trip that must have been. The passengers often had to get off the coach and walk up the pass. The views were stunning between the desert and the snowy mountains.
Our destination was Mountain palm canyon. Near the campground was a short two mile loop trail took you to several palm oasises where the birds congregated attracted to the water and food. Between the two canyons, the trail climbed up and over a ridge where we found cactus, octillo and other plants in bloom. We watched the clouds cast shadows on the desert and they moved across. I always wonder what the first pioneers thought of the expansiveness of the desert.
The next morning, we went to the Red Octillo restaurant located in the quanset hut just outside of town. It was excellent! Too bad they don't do dinner.
Sadly, it was time to drive back. We had one more stop before our flight, Rancho Santa Ana Gardens in Claremont. LA was overcast and drizzly but we had a great tour of the garden. Spring was in full bloom with the blues of the ceanothus and bright orange of Fremontodendron. It was a very relaxing 3 nights in Borrego Springs. It was a very relaxing 3 nights in Borrego Springs and a nice end to the weekend.