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Anza Borrego lifestyle

Our life in the desert has been full. Yesterday you may have noticed I didn't blog at all. We decided to take a day off to recuperate. I'm dealing with a small post-cold infection, which is clearing up by itself, and Eleanor is definitely fighting off something, probably my virus. So we slept as late as we could, stayed home and just enjoyed the desert sunshine, with nothing more strenuous than a short bike ride around the camp.

On our quiet day, we were pleased indeed to be visited by blog readers Bill and Beth Kerfoot. They drove two hours from their home near Los Angeles to come show us pictures of their really cool 1954 Airstream Liner, which is undergoing a major restoration. AND they brought us lemon cake and cookies! (Way to go, Bill & Beth. You guys are welcome anytime! )

Borrego palm sunset.jpg

The Kerfoots spent the afternoon and left just before sunset, not long after I took this photo of the two friendly fan palms that guard our Airstream. We settled in for a quick evening campfire (marshmallows for Emma and Eleanor), dinner, a movie, and hit the sack early.

Today was the day for weather. Heavy rain has reached most of California, so we arrived in the desert just in time. Even here, gusty winds and occasional rain showers have been coming and going all day, but in the desert rain is such an event that it doesn't seem bothersome. I took down the awning, stowed anything loose, and then went for a bike ride ...

... whereupon I met up with Sam and Annette Halderman, another pair of loyal blog readers. These folks were camped just a few rows away from us in their fairly new Airstream Safari 25. Sam told me they had been meaning to catch up with us at Sweetwater Summit but the timing didn't work. So, they found us here!

As they left, the Halderman's posed their Safari next to ours!

I love when we meet people because of this blog! Sam and Annette gave me a pile of great info about the Tucson area (where we will be heading in a couple of weeks) and we talked about all things Airstream until I got called away to go attend a bat talk at the Visitor's Center with E&E. The bat talk was fascinating and the Visitor's Center has been re-done since our last visit -- it is really top-notch now.

By the time we got back, the rainbows had arrived, which I posted below already. The changing desert light and clouds made for some spectacular scenery.

Trying to continue taking it easy, we decided to go off-roading for the afternoon. The Nissan has never been off road and it certainly is capable enough (when not towing an Airstream). The folks at the Visitor's Center suggested a few routes for us to try, starting with Palo Verde, about ten miles east.

Borrego offroad stop.jpg

Great fun! The route wasn't seriously challenging (mostly soft sand), but the scenery and geology were terrific. In the photo above you can see Eleanor unloading Emma at one of our stops, along a wide dry wash called "Short Wash".

Borrego badlands.jpg

A later stop at Vista Del Malpais yielded some incredible views into the Anza-Borrego badlands. I've been to Anza Borrego four times and never seen this part of the park. The effect of standing up on the vista with the wind whipping at perhaps 30 MPH, and the badlands hundreds of feet below is just elating. It's like a miniature Grand Canyon. I've never seen anything like it.

Borrego desert view.jpg

I have learned from today that the desert is at its most dramatic when clouds arrive. Shadows on the mountains, rainbows, gray streaks of cloud dipping down, dust storms on the horizon -- all these things enhance the visual experience of the desert in ways one can hardly imagine. And you have to be looking all the time, because no view lasts for more than a few minutes. I shot over 100 photos today and had to restrain myself from shooting dozens more.

After our off-road adventure, we stopped by some of the random spots where people are camping. Anza-Borrego is almost unique in that camping is allowed almost anywhere. Just pull up and set up your tent, or park your RV. Stay as long as you want.

Borrego classic.jpg

So that's what RV'ers do. Everywhere, scattered across 50 miles of parkland, you will find RVs in the most unlikely spots, completely isolated, sitting in the desert. There are no services (except that cell phones work near Borrego Springs.) No water, no electricity, no 911. But still hundreds of RVs are to be found, including many Airstreams, such as the unusual double-door Classic Limited we saw (above).

I talked to one of the Airstreamers who does this, and he told me he had been out there for over a month. The last two weeks he had his mother (80-plus years old) along. She has been Airstreaming for 23 years and knows more about boondocking than most of us will ever learn. They conserve water scrupulously, making a 50 gallon tank last for at least two weeks. Solar panels on the roof give him enough power to run a microwave once a day, watch two hours of TV on his satellite dish (there are four channels here but all are from Mexico and hence only in Spanish), and run his coffee maker, lights, water pump, etc. When the water is low, he pays $6 to come into the state park, refill, dump the holding tanks, take a shower, and he's good again for another couple of weeks. If he needs something, all the services of Borrego Springs are only six miles away.

Cost of living? $6 every two weeks, plus food. All the scenery you can stand, and plenty of jackrabbits (and fellow RV'ers) for company. You could do worse.

I like it here.


Hello Rich!

You mentioned that you are headed to Tucson. If I know you this is already planned but just in case it isn't . . .

Definitely find time to visit the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum ( I seem to remember it having a different name when I last visited it - admittedly roughly 20 years ago - but if it was as good then as it is today you've got to stop in! It regularly is rated one of the best museums (and it is also a zoo at the same time) by museum professionals and fans alike.


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