Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jumping Cholla, We've Been in the Desert

We just spent three days at Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona and enjoyed our time there -- short hikes and a ranger-led van tour through the Ajo Mountain Trail (Volunteer Ranger Joyce, a choir director in her mid-seventies, drove the van like a cowgirl, speeding up and down the rocky roads but knowledgeable about all the flora and fauna)and a Desert Herbal Medicine Chest talk at the Visitor's Center. And away from the traffic of the last few weeks of cruising down the CA coast.

And, BTW, cholla is one of the main cactus varieties in the area...along with, of course, organ pipe, and saguaro, ocotillo, and palo verde. Cholla doesn't really jump, but like burdock back east it has spiny clusters that migrate on the bottoms of ones pants. If you get "attacked", you'd better have a comb and tweezers to detach those sticky thorns. The cacti are fascinating; the desert shapes and landscape beautiful in the winter. Cool nights and sunny mild days.

But where have we been before that?

We spent Hanukkah in Santa Monica...and Christmas in San Diego. We met up with our road friends, Katie and Bob, and went out with them and Bob's son Colin, for a holiday brunch.

Then onto another wonderful park, Anza Borrego, a CA State Park...also desert and great hiking through slot canyons. Also interesing camping...we camped by just pulling off the road in the desert close to a cluster of other RVers. Anza Borrego is one of the last places in the country where one can camp anywhere in the park for free. Of course, there are no services (electricity, showers, etc.) -- again, we are self-contained and sometimes just go this way of drydocking.

On the other hand, drydocking areas also have no camp rules and since there are no electric hookups, people run their generators -- whenever they want. Also ride their ATV and motor it is noisier than many private or public campgrounds with designated areas and rules.

The second night, we wanted quiet and services (including showers and laundry) so checked into the new fancy RV park (with a discount coupon) and it was clean and spacious and the people were extremely friendly. We met an interesting couple-- who were full-timing in their RV after years of spending halftime working on boats, cruising the Caribbean.

We then met up with our road friends again for a pre-planned New Year's dinner in our van. A pleasant challenge to entertain onboard - but the four of us squeezed around our table, set with my beach blanket (in lieu of a tablecloth) and many Trader Joe goodies.


Heather J. said...

Ah San Diego ... one of my most favorite places to be! We visit there every year, and also a bit to the north in Temecula (where we have family) and Los Altos in Northern CA (more family there).

I can't imagine how much fun you're both having!

Barbara said...

Yes, all CA stops were lovely and we really stayed in state for months.
Now wending eastward..with some plans and open to possibilities and surprises.

Briana said...

Anza-Borrego's such a gorgeous desert Park, isn't it? If you have any photographs in the park that you're proud of, there's a photo contest going on in Borrego Springs put on by Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute. You should consider entering photos. Check it out:

Barbara said...

Thanks for the suggestion!!