Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Adventure in the Desert

Playing with art in the desert -
a great way to start 2014!

We wanted to get the Jeep off-road and the perfect weather forecast made it impossible to stay home!  There are several options for us to get out in the desert but Borrego Springs has been calling my name for months......lots of bloggers posting pics of wonderful drives and hikes.  I camped there 3 decades ago but although I spent years driving past it I haven't been back in the park. 
On the road about 8:00 AM on New Year's Day (the freeways were "post-apocalyptic") we took the "back" way from I-15 on a nice-but-narrow-two-lane road through a large variety of scenery.  We thought we were seeing a lot of motorhomes and 5ers on that road - then we got inside Borrego Springs State Park and it was like being at an RV show!  Every combination of rig, trailer, toad, toy was crazy!  Our first stop was the hotel to see if early check-in was an option.  We were staying at the recently re-opened La Casa del Zorro and they enjoyed a full-house for New Year's Eve so we had to wait until later.  Fine with us, we were ready to get the Jeep dirty!

One of the areas on my want-to-see list was Galleta Meadows.  It is a popular attraction and the front desk had a map of the metal sculptures starting just down the road.  I was surprised to see that they were spread out from one side of the village to the other, in all directions.  Not really a "meadows" area by itself, the pieces dot the landscape in numerous areas. I figured dinosaurs and big bugs were the kind of art Bill might enjoy!

The scorpion echoes when you talk to it.

There is a large variety of animals and pre-historic animals including mammoths and giraffes and tapers and horses and sloths......and the large serpent that takes up both sides of the road.

 Serpent head

 Standing at the tail

But I have to say my favorite was the farm workers....amazing detail including tools and clothes and just different than all the other pieces.  Tessa was not nearly as impressed....

Pruning the vines

Walking the dog....very life-like

Most of them are close to the main highway with close-up access on flat dirt trails.  After enjoying a wonderful lunch at El Borrego (don't let the carpeted outdoor eating area deter you - the food rocks!) we went in search of the few remaining dinosaurs out in the desert.  The dense cholla made staying on the trail a must but it was still a good test of the Jeep.  As expected it did just fine.  These were the bigger dinosaurs with great detail.

Don't sit down!

 Gnarly gnails

I didn't take a picture but from this spot you can see across the whole valley and the weather was perfect - 72 with no wind and crystal clear skies.  There were several other vehicles at the other pieces but we had these critters to ourselves.  There was zero sound and so peaceful. 

We were nearly back to the hotel at this point so we tried to check in again.  Had to wait about 45 minutes so we suffered through a cocktail (best mojito I've had in years) sitting in a small covered patio on the beautiful and serene grounds.  Fountains and beautiful natural desert landscaping made for a very nice wait time.  Tessa was so good, just hanging out with us off leash.  Other dogs came by with their owners and while she kept her eye on them she didn't get up from her spot. 

Our room was upstairs above a "running" creek with a balcony over the pool.  It was huge with king bed, fire place, wet bar and large spa bathroom.  Such a surprise find here in the wilds of Borrego!

Won't be coming back to this in the RV!

Had a couple snags with the room phone and ordering dinner but it worked out with service to our room and a delicious meal.  Prices are steep but portions very large - too large for me.  I enjoyed a very tasty salad and shrimp with pasta while Bill liked his scallops and loved his cheese cake!

Unfortunately the nasty "vacation virus" that laid Jeff out on Christmas day caught up with Bill and he was up and down all night.  No matter how nice the accommodations, it just sucks to be away from home when you're sick!  In the morning I drove into the village for the magic cure that is Pepto Bismol, Gatorade and saltines.  While he and Tessa slept until check-out I had breakfast in the dining room.  Another good meal of granola pancakes - couldn't finish half but it was exceptional.  Lovely space and friendly, efficient service. 

Although Bill was feeling better we headed for home.  Decided to take the "front" way out of the park giving us the opportunity to see more of the area.  Once out of the village about 5 miles we came upon the "bo-dunkers" (boondocker) area.  Lots of rigs still there including a few large circles of multiple rigs.  While it was crowded due to the holiday it was encouraging to see many large 40-foot MHs had access to the area, several pretty far from the highway.  Seeing these bigger units in places I want to go gives me confidence that our smaller one will be no problem!

The canyon area is incredible and we both said we WILL be back to play in the near future.  The ORV area was packed with quads and buggies and Jeeps and while I would have loved it 20 years ago it held no draw for me now.  Too many people, too much dust, too much noise......and I'm totally okay recognizing it means I'm getting older :-).  As I told Bill a couple times on the trip, while I'd rather have the place to ourselves, I'm glad  so many people are getting out in nature with their families and having a good is a good sign that we are recovering.  We will have to share with others on weekends and holidays but be able to enjoy our own space when they return to work and school.  I think we can live with that :-).

A quick drive with a couple of traffic bumps and we were back home.  Although we didn't get to really challenge it, the Jeep definitely passed the "glad we got it" test.  We're already looking forward to getting out there again.


  1. How fun Jodee! I've never heard about those sculptures! Something to add to my list before we leave California! Glad you are enjoying the jeep!

  2. Borrego is a great place to spend a week or two boondocking in the winter. Hope your plans are progressing!