Dry? California?

Let me first start by stating that I know the photos in this post are weak. For whatever reason, the Ansel Adams God of Outdoor Photography turned his back on me. But, they’re all I have, so just try to conjure up the feeling I’m trying to impart.

We rolled into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, hoping to snag a campsite for three nights. Nope. The busy ML King three-day weekend meant that we could get a spot for Friday night only. Okay.20160115_151045 But, there was no way we were going to leave without at least a brief exploratory hike in the morning before our departure. The Palm Canyon Hike promised a grove of palm trees in an oasis. We set off, through the hardscrabble desert, doubting every moment that the promised oasis would show itself.

But all of the sudden – there it was! 20160116_092719We could first see a green cloud of palm tree tops in the distance. As we got closer, the sound of running water! Lush green vegetation springing up alongside the trail.20160116_091917 It was outlandish and ridiculous.20160116_092202 You’ll have to believe me, because the photos don’t capture the amazement of this spot. It was cool and dim, compared to the harsh light of the desert.20160116_09362320160116_093802 The floor beneath the tree canopy was smooth. Ahhhh, so this is what an oasis is all about! It truly was unbelievable, made even better by the fact that we were the only ones there. OUR oasis.

What could make this hike better? John needed a boot adjustment about halfway back, and I took a good look around while we were stopped . Big horned sheep peering down at us from the ridge!! Can it get any better? One big one who stared us down for a long time, and a smaller one who flitted in and out of view. 20160116_10065720160116_100605We stayed there for quite a long time. You’d think I could have gotten a decent photo, but the distance was a bit overwhelming for my camera.

We finally got on the road, and traveled through some remarkable territory.20160116_115729 It seems that most of the huge Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is available for any type of two or four-wheeled motorized activity. Dozens (maybe hundreds) of dust-raising, noisy vehicles screaming alongside the road kick up dust storms that make breathing and driving miserable. Encampments of RVs, each with trailers full of ORVs are everywhere. If you love motorized sports, this is the place for you. Honestly, I can see how this might be fun. But…..what a mess. The land is a huge scar from geologic episodes, erosion, and (most recently) motorsports. We were happy to move on.

Lake Cahuilla Regional Park, near La Quinta was our home for the next two nights. For $15/night, we occupied a lakeside site in a huge gravel parking lot, with our own picnic table and firepit.20160116_134640 The Lake is actually part of the regional irrigation system, and is a cement pond, with pumps and irrigation ditches leading away from it. What appears to be a swimming area flanks one side, and families fishing for carp ring the rest of the area. Sounds odd, but it really was a nice spot to camp. Our enjoyment was marred by the fact that our nearest neighbors, who were camping in a Dodge Caravan which had seen its best days years ago, ran their tin-can generator for hours every day. Ringing the Lake was a 7′ chain link fence, separating us from the fabulous Jack Nicklaus private golf course next door. While walking Jezzy, we could peer through the fence at the gorgeous emerald fairways, lined with bunkers and ponds. It was quite a contrast from the view on our own side of the fence.

If you are a fan of the game of golf, La Quinta is Mecca. There are signature courses by Greg Norman, Nicklaus, Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, in addition to the PGA West and TPC Stadium Courses. Everything revolves around golf.20160117_120320 20160117_113727But, as I cycled around on a brilliantly sunny afternoon, all I was able to see were cement walls. All the communities, and all the golf courses are walled off. Bah! I did see these date palms, loaded with dates.20160117_115325In the Village of La Quinta, there was a Sunday Farmer’s Market, and a lively street scene. Lots of bikes at the coffee shop and tap room. Got an idea for how John and I can support ourselves in the coming years – a mobile bike repair truck (John), complete with coffee and/or a beer tap on the side (Judy). 20160117_122958Tomorrow we move on to Joshua Tree National Park for five days. Monday is a free day at all the National Parks, one of 16 this year to celebrate their 100 year anniversary. It will probably be a circus for one day, but what a great way to say Happy Birthday.


16 thoughts on “Dry? California?

  1. Sounds a bit like all my favourite frustrations in one post – slightly underwhelming photos that don’t support my memory, motorsports in countryside, golf (anywhere), noisy neighbours on the campground……

    But your write up makes me enthusiastic about the oasis and the sheep – so well worth writing!


    • Thanks, Kevin. I used to be an avid golfer. Now I can’t imagine spending four hours standing around a golf course when I could be on my bike. I do marvel at the beauty of the big courses, but shake my head at the folly of building them in the desert. Seeing the world of golf from a bicycle is the best of both worlds.


  2. Well if you get the wienermobile, chili dogs, kraut dogs polish sausage and corn bread with your chili!! Great idea for a business I guess you could make something for whatever area you were in, like Jambalaya in New Orleans. Keep dreaming. patti in co


  3. Okay, a suggestion about your future business to begin with, along with bicycle repair and refreshments, add a first aid station for those people who have trouble staying on a bike. ;)

    I loved the oasis, if the rest of the country looks like it does in the rest of your photos, dry and treeless, then I’d hang out at the oasis and you’d have a hard time getting me to move. BTW, was that setting used in a few movies?

    Nothing like comparing your photos to those produced by the Master, a sure way to be unhappy with yours, something that I’m far too guilty of. ;) No camera could do a good job of the mountain goat on the skyline, too much dynamic range in that scene for a great photo, yours are more than good enough considering that fact.

    While southern California isn’t a place high on my list of places to visit, other than Death Vally, it is nice to see some sun in your posts, and to know that the entire world isn’t frozen as it is here.


    • First aid? Sure, why not. Maybe we could also dispense flu shots. Might as well make ourselves useful.

      I didn’t see anything about the oasis being used in movie sets, but it could have been. Kind of a narrow, dusty hike of about 1-1/2 miles to get back there, but not impossible. It was just a remarkable setting. I told John that I half expected to see Dorothy Lamour in her sarong perched on a rock back there.

      Maybe I got the best photos I could have, but it’s frustrating to see sights so spectacular and realize that my photos are going to be a huge letdown. Guess I can’t complain – I’m not likely to invest in good gear, and am unwilling to lug it. I do think there is much I could do to technically improve the photos I do take.

      The abundant sunshine is nice. Hoping it sticks around for awhile. Will send any extra your way.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Jerry.


  4. I thought the pictures were great. I love your description of the Oasis. Another of our dreams: California camping someday. Of course, LOVE the “repair and refresh” mobile idea! Maybe we’ll join you. Chuck can help John and I can make sure the beer is fresh. Camp on, Campshaws!


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