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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure .com  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens is now at .

California-Nevada Desert Road Trip, Part 1: March 2021

On the first official day of Spring, we headed south to Southern California. Our first destination was the desert town of Borrego Springs which sits smack in the middle of Anza-Borrego State Park. Last year, the park had a profusion of California Poppy blooms and this year, none. As the website stated, even for a desert, there was too little rain this winter. 

On the way to Borrego Springs we drove along the western shore of the Salton Sea. I visited the Salton Sea about 37 years ago and recalled there were dead fish on the beach and it smelled. Before heading out on this road trip, we watched the informative new documentary, "Miracle in the Desert: The Rise and Fall of the Salton Sea" to educate ourselves about this area. 

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California and one of the world's largest inland seas. It is -227 feet below sea level. It is a man-made body of water created in 1905 when a series of mishaps (silt buildup, cuts in the bank of the Colorado River, and spring floods) diverted the Colorado River into the depression that is now the Salton Sea.  

In the 1950s it was a playground of the rich, wanna be rich, and the Rat Pack. Canals were dredged to install boat piers next to newly built homes. It was a summer playground, a water park, a fisherman's dream. Optimistically named towns of Mecca, Oasis, Desert Shores, Salton City, Bombay Beach, Desert Beach surround the sea.

The lake was fed by agricultural irrigation runoff until a 2003 water rights plan diverted that water to Los Angeles and San Diego. As the lake dries, it is leaving behind a bathtub ring of toxic dust that on windy days fills the air with particulates that can lead to asthma and worse. 

This California Dream is an environmental disaster. The sea has no outlet except evaporation. It is 25% saltier than the ocean. At that salinity level most fish cannot survive. Without a food source, there is no reason for the once millions of migrating birds to stop.

Before visiting the Salton Sea, we stopped in Indio at Shields Date Garden for lunch and a date shake.  We walked around the date gardens as White Pelicans flew above the date palms. Lunch was a burger topped with diced bacon, chopped dates, and blue cheese. It was fabulous as was the date shake.

At Anza-Borrego State Park, we hiked the Palm Canyon Trail. It was late afternoon and the cacti were glowing in the late sun. The trail eventually runs along and then crosses a stream passing through lovely water gardens and giant boulders before arriving at the Palm Canyon Oasis.

Palm Canyon is a small oasis within this desert landscape. A grove of native California Fan Palms grows in here next to a small stream. In January 2020 a fire burned most of the grove of Fan Palms. The palms have regenerated, but evidence of the fire is visible in the blackened trunks. I saw some photos of the palm grove after the fire was put out. The fronds were completely burned away with only the blackened trunks standing. Just a little over a year later, the fronds have regrown.

Another hike we took was a short nature loop called Narrows Earth in Powder Dump Wash on Highway 78. We missed the turn and when we got to a place wide enough to make the turn, we saw a coyote ambling down the hill. He saw us and did an about face. I was slow to get out my camera so this was the photo I took as he cleared the ridge. I like the photo of the landscape anyway.

I've always liked ocotillos with their graceful fountain shape. I don't often see them with their red flowers but when I have, I think the wispy red blossoms look like red birds perched on the ends of the ocotillo. Leaves and flowers appear shortly after the ocotillo has received sufficient rain and then they disappear to await another wet period. 

Threatening clouds moved in and stayed with us all day. The weather forecast said no rain.

We hiked the Yaqui Well nature trail found lots of cacti (one blooming) but did not find the well. 

On our second evening in Borrego Springs we went to a hawk watch site. Swainson's hawks stop for a rest as they migrate through the area. Last week on one night over 2,700 Swainson's hawks were counted. The night we went there were maybe three, but they were so far away we couldn't identify them. Also spotted was a harrier hawk and an osprey. The weather was more interesting. A rainbow to the east and dramatic clouds to the west. Then it rained.

The next morning on the road from Borrego Springs to the Salton Sea, I spotted a cattle egret flash mob just hanging out next to the roadway. There were 100 or more not hunting for food just looking eastward across the roadway until we stopped nearby. They weren't waiting for us!

We worked our way over to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge on the southern tip of the Salton Sea. There we saw some quail, a Western Meadowlark, a few ducks, and the striking American Avocet with its black and white feathers and graceful, long beak. The freshwater pond they were in is filled with purchased fresh water because the Salton Sea's water is too salty. 

While at the Wildlife Refuge, we walked the Rock Hill Trail to one of the area's active volcanos that sits next to the Salton Sea. The geothermal activity is channeled to the nearby geothermal plants.

View from the volcano looking west over the Salton Sea

Our drive continued along the eastern shore of Salton Sea past Mecca to our next stop: Palm Springs.