a day in the desert

For many years when I drove east from San Diego, it was to visit family in Yuma or in Tucson, Arizona. At other times of the year, I have been car camping a few times in Anza Borrego and hiking part of the Pacific Crest Trail that skirts it through San Diego and Riverside Counties. Today was the first Springtime trip – a date with my wife Sheri – I made into the desert expressly to enjoy the wildflower bloom after the winter rains. And it was the perfect day to get out of San Diego.

Rain over previous weekends and last week were forecast to create an amazing flower show. In fact, photojournalists this past Thursday already chronicled an abundance of flowers not seen in more than a decade. This was one motivator to get out to see the flowers before all of Southern California descended into the area.

Leaving early Saturday, it was a leisurely and familiar drive through the mountains northeast of my home on the way to the desert. Leisurely, as we stopped for a country breakfast in Ramona, a town of small ranches and farms. Familiar, as my wife and I have often gone this way to spend the day in Julian or a weekend camping trip with friends. Sidestepping Julian, we drove over the mountains and down to Borrego Springs. As the driver of today’s adventure, had my wife not been in the car, I would have included marveling at the view looking out over the Imperial Valley. I (pleading the Fifth) assume it was spectacular.

While Borrego Springs can be well over a 100F in the summer, it was a very pleasant 68F. Butterflies everywhere. A bird that Sheri captured on video singing away – the one pictured here – was trying to capture the attention of a potential mate. All he was getting this morning unfortunately were tourists. But the flowers were indeed worth the trip. purples, yellows, blues, tiny and delicate flowers, flowering cactus and verdant green hillsides.

The best part of the journey was my wife’s encouragement to journey on eastward, following the sign to the Salton Sea thirty miles to the east. Along the way, we would see brightly colored valleys and hills, where obviously one or two had stopped to take pictures – and several others followed suit. The Imperial Valley east of Anza Borrego is beautiful at this time of year, but the pockmarked ancient pavement leading out to the Salton Sea was not as straightforward as I thought. From a bluff leading down out of the foothills miles to the east of Borrego Springs, it stretches north and south. On our return, we found other interesting canyons, washes, and fields to capture with our cameras and writing. Even one sweater-clad dog, probably irritated that I took a picture of him, was enjoying the visit with his family. (I mustn’t tell Dexter and Comet; they would be, or at least, Dexter, would be disappointed at missing the trip. Comet would prefer to remain in air conditioned luxury.) .

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