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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Our Desert Trip; Part 3

Part 3 in which we stay at Julian, and visit Anza Boreggo Desert State Park.

Most of the drive from 29 palms to Julian passed through the fringes of San Diego’s part of Southern California sprawl. We took Highway 10 through the hillbilly fringe of Palm Springs, to the sprawl filled Moreno valley (yes, I couldn’t resist humming 'I Feel Pretty' from 'West Side Story').

Next, we endured more of the same for several miles on the Interstate 210 Freeway. As we came nearer to our exit, the monotonous scenery was occasionally broken up by gigantic casino hotel complexes. We were entering the tension zone between suburbia and Indian country.

We passed this fruit stand near the edge of the Pala Indian Reservation. I htought some readers might find this interesting. the had really good strawberries and dates.

Our trip turned east on Highways 76, 78 and 79. This was a beautiful road through fruit orchards, smaller desert mountains, and yet more casinos, one giant and one normally scaled. We passed Mount Palomar, we looked up and saw the famous observatory from the road. The rest of the trip was a gentle ascent into the mountains and to Julian.

Although Julian is a relatively short drive to the desert, Julian is in the mountains,full of greenery, and gets rain and snow in the winter. However, 5 miles further east begins desert for hundreds of miles. Julian has made an industry surrounding selling apple pies to day trippers from San Diego, and stuffing people at country style restaurants. It is almost living a lie, since the kind of small farm based country life city slickers like to see on outings (think natural foods commercials) never existed in California. Agriculture in California agriculture was large and corporate from day 1, when the immediate needed for food for over 30,000 49ers, demanded large scale investment in irrigation. No room for the small family farmer here. This town was full of apple pie and fruit jam. I was a little disappointed that the jam jars didn’t have little squares of gingham cloth tied around their tops.

Downtown was full of places to get pie, other restaurants, and lots of shops, featuring an amusing combination of country and new Age kitsch. Ladies and gentlemen, this is definitely 'faux country' (see previous lack of gingham). So there, the truth is out. However,the pie was delicious.

We stayed at the Butterfield B&B in Julien. The B&B, although in a suburban development and not terribly interesting, is an excellent place to stay. We stayed in the room they call 'Country Corner'. Not a surprise that our room’s decoration was a bit over the top, we had to throw about 5 sham pillows off the bed. There was also a teddy bear wearing a lacy ballerina outfit on the bed. I had to practice my best restraint to keep from hanging that thing on the blind’s pull string. The host owners were nice and chatty, both escapees from the 1990s Silicon Valley industries. I would never hang such a nice couples' teddy bear.

I found staying at B&B's to be good value. I figured out after working in the cost of a great breakfast for two, we were probably paying $10 or $20 extra to stay in a great place,rather than a stinky and drab motel room.

Anza Borrego Park greeted us with slightly warmer weather, but still not bad for a desert. I didn’t take many pictures, maybe the hike was a little more tiring than our previous walk at 29 Joshua Tree, maybe the second desert isn’t as thrilling as the first. We saw a few plants we hadn’t seen at Joshua Tree.

The desert valley was full of ocotillo plants. I think that’s a pretty cool sounding name. They had cool red flowers.

We saw a few other flowers we hadn’t seen before, here you go. Most of these were in slightly moister ground downstream from a palm oasis.

The endpoint of our hike was another palm oasis.

The next posting will feature my latest effort to find the creepiest Catholic imagery. California’s missions continue to provide great fodder.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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