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Anza-Borrego, Part Three. April 24, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Talk about milking a gig – Part Three, and I may not even be done yet!

This place was a trip, a real challenge for a New England boy, used to forested hills and fields of green.  We had approached Anza-Borrego Desert State Park from the east, driving up out of the Salton Sea, which looked completely uninhabitable to me, then gaining a little elevation into a bowl of desert surrounded by mountains.

They weren’t particularly large until you contemplate their passage.  On foot.

The valley bottom was riddled with shallow “canyons,” drainages where the seasonal rains would gather to grow green things in an otherwise brown world:

A-B canyon with chickory

This desert chickory was cool, having a diferent light than our bluish Eastern version:

desert chickory close-up

And the washes, despite their dry sand surfaces, were awash with Spring:

canyon sunflowers

Climbing up out of the drainages, the desert assumed the angularity of a landscape hewn by the wind:


These lilies were amazing – I loved the tight kinks of their leaves and the intensity of their white blossoms:

lil lily

Frau B suggested that we check out an area promisingly known as the Desert Garden, which proved to be an excellent call:

blue flowers

Blue agaves provided the appropriate punctuation to this landscape of light:

agave stem

…and were in turn accented by an array of wildflowers:


lying skeletons

Chuparosas and ocotillos punctuated the scene, dancing in the wind as we waited to shoot between the stronger gusts:


Eventually it got so windy that we didn’t know whether to hang onto our cameras or our hats:

lizz's hat

…so we packed it up and headed back north.

But that’s another post!

Anza-Borrego, Part II. April 13, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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So where were we?

Ah yes, down in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Battling the wind.

But gawd it was gorgeous.

“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Massachusetts anymore!”

Visitor Center and Restrooms, 100 yards that-a-way!

a-b sign

The restrooms were a bit rustic, but the Visitor Center was really informative and staffed with very helpful people.  Couple that with the area’s user-friendly Rules Of Engagement (i.e., camp wherever you want, just don’t mess it up or cause problems,) and this proved to be a low-stress place to pass a couple of days.

And oh, did I mention that it was gorgeous?

a-b boulder field

…even though my bum ankle protested with every step across this particularly rocky patch.

a-b stony ground

But the ocotillos in bloom were mesmerizing, swaying like sirens in the long light of a desert dawn:

a-b ocotillo

…with their luminescent blossoms like bugs at a banquet:

ocotillo blossom

Even in repose the ocotillo has something to say, here through a little sprig of desert sand verbena:

phacilia and ocotillo

or is that phacilia?

We spent mornings and evenings looking for photos, and mid-days exploring, which of course involved taking photos.  ‘Cause that’s why we were there.

A ranger had mentioned that there were flowers blooming in Hawk Canyon, so we went and looked.

Yup, them’s flowers all right…

desert sunflowers

Desert Sunflowers, with a smattering of Desert Lupines.

Everything out here has “desert” as its first name.

The canyon provided some welcome shade (even in early March!)  There was a picnic spot with a fire grate, and a cryptic sign:

no wool gathering

Here Lizz is contemplating the ban on “rock” climbing as she surveys the vertical gravel of the canyon wall.

The narrows at the head of the canyon were choked with desert (!) lavender, in these parts a woody bush growing  substantially larger than a person, and very fragrant:

desert lavender

…and the ubiquitous brittlebush:

little brittlescape

There’ll be a few more of these before we head back north to J-Tree and beyond.

After Much Procrastination… April 6, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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More shots from Out West.

These are from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a huge tract of land east of San Diego, west of the Salton Sea, and just north of the Mexican border.  It’s California’s largest state park, at over 630,000 acres of low elevation desert and craggy mountains.  The combination of open spaces and shadowed canyons provides a range of plant habitats and makes Anza-Borrego famous as a place to watch the desert bloom .

We were a little bit early to see the Park at its peak, but we did come across some nice patches of color, and the desert landscapes were intriguing to this New England boy.

There are a lot of these, and you might get tired of them before I run out of them, but this is part of the culling process; let me know if any strike you (you know what I mean) so I don’t inadvertently delete them in disgust.  I also would appreciate the frank feedback when you see something which makes you yawn or say, “So what?”  Not that I’m beggin’ for a beatin’, mind you; your kind words have always been the reason I do this.

So, Anza-Borrego, Part One.

Sunrise in the scrub lands east of the town of Borrego Springs:

ocotillo sunrise

This was the first time either Lizz or I was here.  It’s a cool place, with very little regulation of where you can drive and camp – just don’t light fires, don’t make a mess and don’t bother anyone else; the rest is all good.

The scenery was, in it’s ascetic desert way, alternately stark and spectacular:

A-B landscape

…and warm, peacefully proportioned:

a-b desert scape

The ocotillos were full-on blooming, lending vivid color to a landscape with an otherwise subdued palette:

a-b ocotillos

We came across a few nice patches of desert sand verbena and primrose, with a scattering of other flowers thrown in:

a-b find and grind

a-b tricolor

…while up a little higher in the hills, brittlebush predominated:


We busted our butts to get these shots, working around a nearly incessant wind.  In the end, we got what we got, and here it is.

More to follow.