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In search of wild flowers

| In the spring of years past, we have made excursions to the poppy fields near Lancaster. This year we thought we'd try for other wild flowers, and Anza-Borrego came to mind. We thought we might have left it a bit late, but there had been other important demands on our Sundays earlier. So, yesterday we piled into the Prius headed for Borrego Springs, right in the middle of the park. It would be about a two-hour drive.

To get to the park from the Palm Springs area, basically you go east on the I-10, turn south to the Salton Sea, then head west into the park. The first hint of what was to come was a voice from the back seat saying, "I think you've gone too far." Although I had entered our destination into Sophie's navigation system, I had "suspended guidance" to eliminate her sometimes annoying reminders, such as "Continue on the current route." Resuming guidance, Sophie's solution was to backtrack to the proper exit. Men! Just won't ask for directions!

Nevertheless, we arrived in Borrego Springs about on schedule and immediately picked a restaurant, deciding on Kendall's Cafe, noted by TripAdvisor.com as "Great for breakfast." Since they stopped serving breakfast at 11:30, we would have lunch instead. They had quite an extensive menu and we all opted to try the buffalo burger or the buffalo melt. Good choice. It was delicious.

After lunch, we browsed through the Borrego Outfitters store which had simply everything, from clothing to cookware to wines and shoes. All very high quality stuff and all on sale at 25% off. Then we strolled through other stores in the mall, quite impressed at what we found in a town out in the middle of nowhere.

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But about the wild flowers.... We hadn't seen any! The park map had helpfully marked some locations with flower icons, and we headed out Di Giorgio Rd in search of blossoms. After a short distance, the road simply stopped and became a sandy track.

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End of the road

But not a flower in sight, I pulled to the side while we debated the wisdom of continuing the quest. The deciding factor turned out to be an endless stream of cars coming back from wherever the road led. "There must be something out there," we concluded.

The track became narrower and bumpier and eventually followed right along the base of the canyon wall. Still no flowers, but we met car after car after car returning. A couple of miles along we arrived at a veritable forest of ocotillos all in bloom.

When I first moved to the desert I had seen ocotillos in many yards and couldn't imagine why anybody would keep what looked like nothing more than dead sticks. It wasn't until a previous jaunt to Anza-Borrego after a rainy winter that I saw ocotillos with leaves and blossoms and understood why. The ones that we had come across this time were huge, in big clumps and many with trunks 2 or 3 inches in diameter.

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The planned route

Now satisfied that we had at last seen wild flowers, we began the trip back home (besides, the "road" had become a rocky double track). The plan was to leave via the western entrance to the park and circle back home. The road out of town twisted and turned, climbing steeply, with magnificent panoramic views of the Colorado desert basin. I had tried to program our route into Sophie's system, but she was being truculent and refused to recognize the highways I thought we should take (not for the first time). We headed off, reduced to looking for highway signs. After driving for a long time we became convinced that we had missed the turn and resigned ourselves to simply following the highway back to where it intersects with the I-10 to the west of the Coachella Valley.

It turned out that we were wrong about having missed the turn. But by the time we saw it, came to the conclusion that it would be faster to just continue on. This conclusion was also erroneous, as we ended up going through Temecula. To make a long story shorter, we finally arrived back in Desert Hot Springs at 6pm, some eight hours after our departure.

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Last updated on Jun 3, 2016

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