I wanted to camp at the Salton Sea, 30 miles north of El Centro. But three El Centro locals said "no way.” Icky, lots of dead fish, not scenic, don't go in the water, beach may be dangerous, they said. Based on those bad reviews, after El Centro we headed for Borrego Springs, CA. I’d still like to go to the Salton Sea sometime. It was formed when irrigation dams from the Colorado River broke in the early 1900s. Since then it’s been fed by a couple of small rivers and agricultural run off. But this time we headed a little further west.
The small town of Borrego Springs has about 3,500 people and is completely surrounded by Anza-Borrego State Park, the largest state park in California.
It’s also a “dark sky” community, meaning it has no stop lights and little night-time lighting in order to protect views of the night sky. But the big attraction while we were there was a desert flower “super bloom.”
California deserts had an uncharacteristically rainy fall and winter -- so much so that the state’s drought has officially been declared over. All that rain provided enough moisture for way-more-than-usual flowers to bloom from seeds that may have been dormant as many as ten years.
So we walked through and drove by many a desert flower. One of the best places was a huge field right next to the Palm Canyon RV Park, where we stayed for for three nights. The campground was in a good location, but our RV spot and those around us were very small. Several people pulled in near us but left after backing to and fro and trying to hook up to water/electric/sewer. Our rig is only 27 feet long so we fit, but it was tight.
One late afternoon after flower gazing, we stopped at Carlee’s Place, a down-home-looking diner. We sat at the bar. Pretty soon a woman named Mary--maybe our age--came in with a younger guy and sat next to us. Turns out they both live in Slab City, which might offer the last free real estate in the USA. Slab City is an abandoned Marine base owned by the state of California. People can move there in an RV or whatever portable housing they have, make up an address, and live there at no cost.
They told us that the guy drives Mary around in exchange for her buying him dinner. Said driver guy: “It's like 'Driving Miss Daisy' if Miss Daisy was drunk and cranky." Mary laughed.
|Locals told us many of the visitors inundating Borrego Springs asked "Where can I go to see the flowers?" Answer: "Look out your car window."|
|The purple flowers in this photo belong to the prickly pear cactus.|
|One of the few desert flowers I can identify: indigo.|
|I think this is yellow desert daisy.|
|Maddie enjoying the superbloom. That's Arlo and Jim ahead of her, just barely visible in the upper left.|
|Palm Canyon RV Park had 7 "glampers" for rent--remodeled Airstream and other vintage trailers built in the 1950s through the 1980s. The glampers looked totally occupied the weekend we were at Palm Canyon. Our camping space was close to the glampers|