Tuesday, 29 March 2016

San Diego - The First Part...

We left Quechon Casino in bright warm sun, and headed west along the Mexican border past

The Mexican border is right beside the road
the dunes.

Only one ATV on the dunes
There were only a few ATV’s on the dunes, but lots of RV’s boondocking on the BLM land around the dunes. The highway from here goes through the Imperial Valley and El Centro, with its irrigated green fields,

Pickers in El Centro field
past solar fields

Huge fields of Solar Panels
and wind power windmills

Wind energy - but not much wind today
as we entered the mountains.

Into the mountains...

Every couple of miles, on the climb, there are Radiator water stations

Up over the mountains,

This section was really rocky

with little green past 4000 ft,...

and over one of the summits- we crossed several, this is the last.
and down the other side,

and down...

Yuccas were blooming on the hillsides in one section
past fields of yellow and orange flowers,

Fields of flowers on the banks of the road,

and along the sides of the highway
and finally we travelled through the Mission Hills

Beautiful Mission Hills ring Santee
into Santee,

Driving down Highway 52 into Santee
and Santee Lakes.

Our site, 300- the first day we were there
Our site, 300, is one of the most coveted in the park. It has some shade and is a long site with a paved pad.

Site 300
Our door opens to a large open area with trees and grass. It is a pleasure to sit outside and not be looking at the side of another rig.

On the other side of the road is a park, and washrooms up the path
The first couple of weeks brought mixed weather. It was relatively warm some days, but with cool nights, and many days below normal temperatures, with more rain than usual. A couple of major storms came inland from the ocean. However, we found good days to do some sightseeing.

The first weekend was the Blossom Festival at the Japanese Gardens in Balboa Park. The park was packed. There was a long line-up to get in, then a line which wove its way past a bamboo garden,

Bamboo Garden 'wall/hedge'
down the path to the gardens by the stream below.

The path wound down the hill to the gardens.
The blossoms were beautiful.

Cherry blossoms
as were the flowers on the hill.

The paths wandered through the gardens, past the tea house

Tea house

Large koi swam in the stream

Waterfall by the Tea House

beside the stream

A beautiful stream rand through the gardens 
and back up past a river of rock.

With a lot of rain, this could become a stream too
We tried some of the ‘street food’, rice and chicken, but no the fried squid. The longest line was for Okonomiyaki, Japanese pancakes.

This line never seemed to get any shorter
Most people were dressed for the weather, but there was a group who dressed for Anime, in characters I did not recognize though.

There were a variety of tents with items for sale, demonstrations and displays of Japanese arts, and bonsai trees.

creative bonsai trees
We spend some time in the mornings checking news on the internet, when it is not cycling or kicking us off, and just sitting outside with our coffee, talking to neighbours and friends who pass by,

Larry often stops by for a chat
usually walking their dogs, or sitting beside the lake.

Watching kids fish,

or the coots chase people in the paddle boats who feed them

Thursdays, we go for breakfast at the Clubhouse.

Our Clubhouse Hosts cleaning up

Clubhouse is often open during the day, for games, books, or just to watch TV
One lady makes trays of delicious cinnamon buns, then breaks them up into pieces of various sizes [so there is enough to go around] and puts creamy cream cheese icing on them. They are soooo good.

Wednesdays there is a small Market several blocks away, in a plaza parking lot. It is an eclectic mixture of foods, bags and Tupperware, prepared-food tents, popcorn, jewellery, olive oils, honey and organics.

The Market - small, but interesting

We have picked up fresh vegetables and 3 baskets of beautiful, and delicious strawberries there each week, and fresh oranges at another stall.

Large strawberries with wonderful flavour

Many late afternoons have found us over at the pool. After the first week, it began to warm up – not to last year’s 90’s, but sufficiently to get the small pool to 25C.

One warm day we decided to go to Borrego Springs in the Anza-Borrego Desert. The route took us north toward

rocky mountains,

Through hills and plains

on a wide highway, with beautiful scenery

Julian through Ramona.

Old eucalyptus trees line the highway

Murals add character to the stores.

Instead of going through Julian, we decided to take Hwy 78 towards Escondido, then S2, and S22 into Borrego Springs. The first part was through gently rolling pasture grasslands through Culp Valley.

This is horse country

and cattle pastures

with rolling hills
Then we came to a rock cut,

through the rock cut...

and began to descend. We stopped at a pull-out in the road, and climbed a small hill.

We looked back on the road after the rock cut,

and down to the truck, 

then east toward the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Salton Sea - 40 miles away

The road was amazing, winding down and around the mountains

Looking between the mountains, as we descend
through rock

This is where we have been

This is where we are going,

and on down to the bottom...
down 8% grade for 10-12 miles.

I couldn't get rid of the aerial- without a lot of time...

As we drove we could see the desert and at the pull outs, we could see all the way across the Borrego Desert to the Salton Sea, and the roads into Borrego Springs.

From the pull-out - Borrego Springs, Borrego-Anza Desert, Salton Sea

This is the road we didn't take!

As you get closer to the foot of the mountains, the ocotillos abound. They were beginning to flower and many were covered in leaves.

Ocotillas everywhere, but not many other cacti

The last section of the hill

We drove into town,

Welcomed by a town sign
by some beautiful, well- spread-out homes,

Several had beautiful metal sculptures in their yards..

another striking sculpture

and around part of the town before heading to the State Park.

This is the facade of one of the hotels, with an RV Park behind it.

The desert walk around the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitors' Centre

A beautiful stone building, set into the hill
has many varieties of flora

Desert dandelions

an Indigo Bush- we hadn't seen this before
and cacti in glorious bloom.

Barrel Cactus - blooms on the top

an unusual colour

all colours of blooms- some on top of branches,

some, as the Prickly Pear,  on the edges of the 'stems'.
This will be even more spectacular when all the blooms are out.

We didn’t take time to do any other hikes, as we wanted to tour and see several of the RV Parks in the area. One is a Vintage RV Park,

The entrance
with beautiful vintage RV’s, landscaped with many permanently fixed.

Another is the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground at the State Park. There are some full service sites, and a couple of loops of developed sites, but no service.

The last part of our visit was a tour of the area discovering the menagerie of dozens of free-standing sculptures of Ricardo Breceda. They are in town benefactor Dennis Avery’s parcel of land called Galleta Meadows Estate.

The story...
These metal creatures, - some prehistoric,


The Giant Tortoise

 some other-worldly,

some more realistic,

The Grasshopper and the Scorpion

The Scorpion's mouth- look at the detail...

Workers in a Vineyard



Wild Boar

some mythical, 

As you drive down the road you see ... a serpent

then walk to its head...

a sense of its size!

and closer still. It is magnificent!
appear almost natural in the desert landscape. Each is made up of a series of metal plates. If one part becomes damaged, it is cut out and replaces! To find each one you follow the Sky Art Map and drive through and around the town.

Our return trip took us through very different landscape, trees, winding roads and grasslands to Julian and back to I-8 into San Diego.

Quite a different landscape, as night fell
On our second visit to Balboa Park, after burritos at our favourite café above the Model Railroads,

Casa 1915
I walked around the Art Studios in Spanish Village,

Entrance to Spanish Village

The Courtyard
while John first investigated the small railroad, then joined me. These quaint buildings and courtyard were built in 1935 to depict an old village in Spain for the second California Pacific International Exposition. It was such a beautiful and popular attraction that it was allowed to remain when the exposition ended. During WWII, the US Army used the village for temporary barracks. In 1947, it was reclaimed and restored by artists. Today there are 37 working artist studios/galleries who host over 200 local artistes.

The Sculptors' Courtyard

A glass blower at work

A section of studios off the Courtyard

As we came out John had to show me his discovery,

2 topiary elephants on a road to nowhere, just a track ...
then as we walked back to the tram, past the beautiful buildings,

Beautiful, intricate architecture

Sculptors Courtyard
we decided to go through the Botanical Garden.

There were gorgeous orchids of every size and colour. Just as we left, it got windy and cool, and it started to rain.

The Reflecting Pool reflected only grey skies...

We left just in time.

No comments:

Post a Comment