Merry Christmas everybody and Happy New Years to y’all while we’re at it. We had a very good time having Christmas at Chad and Crissy’s house in Atascadero. Jenn and Max came and spent the holiday with us. Chad had quite a collection of toys which kept us non-stop busy with the Gladiator (Max). From remote controlled drone flyers to remote controlled ATV fighters to high capacity NERF shotguns…Max was a kid in a toy store. I was a bit peeved that I was unable to fully enjoy this family time because I had picked up a nasty head cold, but I tried my best.
Good ol’ Rock-em Sock-em Robots. The past lives on…
To work off the awesome BBQ rib dinner Chad put on, they took us to the Bishop Peak Natural Area, a sort of donated-to-the-county mountain park with hiking trails. This was a several hour endeavor and a medium strenuous level which got a bit frustrating with Max because he wanted to be carried the whole time. It turned into quite a workout and the view at the “top of the world” was spectacular. Jenn suffered a minor mishap while carrying Max during the downhill return, she fell and smacked her elbow pretty good. No broken bones though, just a lot of pain and minor swelling.
What’s left of the XMAS cookie tray leads to…
…this serious warning sign!
The wild bunch getting ready to hike to the “Top of the World”.
Well, at least Max started out under his own power…
Max, Uncle Bubba, and Oma monkeying in a tree.
Oops, didn’t take Max long to con a ride.
Hooray for us!
“Look, Ma, no hands!”
One of the few times WE conned Max into running on his own power.
Max and his Mom at the Top of the World.
Chad peeks over the top rock at us.
View from the Top…
We also made a trip to Avila Beach and a stop at the farmer’s market/petting zoo on the way. Max got to feed the animals (I think his mom had more fun doing that) and then he JUST HAD to have pizza for lunch, so we stopped at a pizza place in Avila Beach.
“Don’t feed him your fingers, Max!”
“Do I look guilty or what?”
Jenn had more fun feeding critters than Max!
At the pier in Avila Beach.
The coastline at Avila Beach.
Strolling the pier.
Merry Christmas everyone! From the farmer’s market…
Again, all good things must come to an end, so it was “See ya later” to the family and back to “Jo Jo” Hills to pack up and prep for our next adventure. This is the only draw back to full-timing… WE MISS OUR KIDS and their families. Good thing someone invented Facetime.
True boondocking. That was next on our agenda. We decided to head out to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park which surrounds Borrego Springs. We had pre-scouted the area previously, taking the Jeep over the Montezuma Valley pass. That was an extremely steep and long mountain road and I was concerned about taking the bus over it. Thankfully, we spoke with one of our Jo Jo Hills neighbors and he mentioned an easier way for the motorhome, taking the Yaqui Pass off Hwy. 78 off Road S2. We took Yaqui Pass-it was still a bit steep and narrow but a lot shorter than Montezuma Valley…much easier travel. We found a common area for boondockers in the Clark Dry Lake area between Rockhouse Trail and mile marker 27 on Road S22. I use the term “boondockers” loosely here. My version of true boondocking is somewhere in the sticks with nobody around. Here, the boondockers were thicker than flies, some non-groups parked on top of each other. There must have been at least 50 rigs in about a half square mile area.
Our boondock site in Borrego Springs at Clark Dry Lake bed.
Our desert neighbors…
There are quite a lot of activities/sights within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We only planned to stay about a week (which is what we actually stayed as it turned out), depending on the status of our gray and black tanks (this being our first actual boondocking experience excluding overnight stopovers), so we only experienced a fraction of the sights and sounds of what the park offered. First stop was the park Visitor Center for all the info we could get on the park. The booklet they give out has some crude maps with general locations of points of interest, and as we discovered during our stay, the state of California gets an “F” for signage as far as those points of interest are concerned.
The wind caves was our first exploration here. They are outside of Ocotillo Wells off Split Mountain Rd. on Fish Creek Wash. The teeny-tiny sign that points out the trailhead to the wind caves is easy to pass by without seeing, as we did. But we guess-timated the right area and ended up hiking up the back side of the steep shale mountain to the caves. Very cool formations and very dismaying to find piggy people had found their way up and left their mark on this natural wonder (graffiti). @$$holes who do this should be shot on sight and left for wildlife consumption. This hike was about a 2 mile round trip. The drive into Fish Creek Wash was pretty scenic as well.
The wind caves at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Someone built a fire inside this cave.
Jeanne after conquering the ugly climb straight uphill. Notice evidence of graffiti at left, #&%@!!!
4-wheel master Jeanne feeling her oats in canyons on way to wind caves.
Scenic canyon to drive through.
Walk through cave.
More graffiti on caves. No respect…
Fonts Point was also pretty spectacular, particularly at sunset. This is an area about 4 miles off Road S22 and evokes thoughts of the Grand Canyon. The viewing area has no guard rails, just a steep drop off into the abyss. And the majestic beauty of the rock formations is awe inspiring.
Sunset at Fonts Point. Nice view of the full moon rising in the east.
More of the sunset over the canyons.
Backside color changes during sunset.
Dramatic skies over the Borrego Sink.
Around the town of Borrego Springs there are 2 separate areas of a property called Galleta Meadows. These are private open area properties that are open to the public. The owner allowed a local artist out of Temecula, Ricardo Breceda, to create sculptures and display them scattered about the properties. The most popular one is of the serpent. We tracked down most of the art, it gave Jeanne more opportunity to display her 4-wheelin’ mojo in the Jeep. No captions necessary, art is art…
Just prior to entering Borrego Springs on Montezuma Valley Rd. we found the trail for Hellhole Canyon/Maidenhair Falls. This is a 6 mile round tripper through thick Ocotillo and Cholla cacti to a small canyon with several oases, one of which contains a waterfall area. We loaded up the camelbacks/back packs and set out up the canyon. This hike was strenuous at times, a lot of large rock climbing/shin busting involved. Unfortunately, upon arrival to the falls we found them but a drip off the maidenhair ferns (yeah, California is still in the grips of a severe drought). But it was a very nice hike anyway…
They take their warnings seriously, signage over grave sites.
Looking through one of the oases toward the valley.
Maidenhair Falls, not much falling.
While here in the desert we drove on in to the Salton City/Salton Sea area, about 20 miles from our campsite. There outside of Salton City is the Ocotillo Wells Vehicular Recreation Area. Holy Dust Cloud, Batman! Evidently, the 1st week of the new year is the busy time here. In this VRA folks cram their rigs on top of each other while they boondock camp and operate their ATV’s, dirt bikes, and any other make of offroad vehicle through the desert and desert canyons. It was VERY packed, and not my idea of wanting to ATV in an offroad version of the L.A. freeway system at quitting time! (Later, on our way out of California and during the work week, this VRA was pretty much a ghost town, much more preferable for an enjoyable off road experience).
One of the canyons leading from the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, note campers in far distance behind Jeanne.
One of the ATV canyons.
Our time boondocking in the desert came to an end after 7 days. We left heading into Salton City on Road S22. I have one major note of caution for other bus drivers on this road. Once past the Ocotillo Wells Vehicular Recreation area, still on S22, the road itself is not bad…until you come within about 3-4 miles of Salton City. There, you NEED to slow way down, the road suddenly includes many major dips that will easily scramble the contents of your rig. If you think you are slowed down enough, you need to slow down MORE! The contents of my closet got tossed to the closet floor, all items, without exception!
From the desert we headed into Pahrump, NV, for a return stay at the SKP park there, Pair-a-Dice, for thorough cleansing, restocking, and preparation to meet Jeanne’s mom and her boyfriend, Yvonne and Gary, at Death Valley for some more boondocking time at Furnace Creek. Until then…