Day Four Ė Afternoon
Driving down the western side of the Salton Sea, we pass through palm nurseries, vegetable farms and citrus groves and lots of heavy truck traffic. Sporty can out accelerate these heavy rigs at the many traffic lights, but they all pass us once they get rolling at 70mph plus.
We finally reach our turnoff at the Borrego-Salton Seaway and refuel at an big ARCO station. What gives with charging extra fees for using credit cards to purchase fuel here? I have never seen this before in the West.
We turn west on S22 and quickly reach the state park boundary and the Borrego Badlands. The Octotillo are in bloom, something I have seen only once and the expedition photographer has never witnessed. The bright red flowers and the rugged badlands make for some nice pics.
Leaving the badlands, we pass dozens of RVs boondocking to the north of the highway in the open desert. I take note of the campsites, but itís really hot today (near 90F) to be sitting there out in the open.
We turn west on the Henderson Canyon road to see the flower display at the mouth of Coyote Canyon. The large expanse of flowers, mostly desert gold, are about a week past their peak, and many are dry and crispy when walked on. According to the website DesertUSA, the height of the bloom here was the second week of March and we are well into the third week at this point.
The caterpillars have emerged and they are everywhere in this field, munching the flowers as we photograph them. Here is a Dune Primrose and caterpillar.
And here is a single Sand Verbena and caterpillar.
The flower displays along Henderson Canyon road in Anza Borrego State park have become more than just famous and almost iconic of the southwestern deserts in springtime. Images of the mouth of Coyote Canyon are found everywhere desert wildflowers are mentioned and are only equaled in ubiquitousness by pictures taken in southern Death Valley National Park during the Big Bloom of Spring 2005. I feel lucky just to have seen the flowers past their peak.
We stop at a stand selling fresh oranges and get ten pounds of slightly over ripe fruit for $3. Nothing like fresh citrus!
Itís 5PM as we roll into the smaller campground just west of Borrego Springs, but we made reservations online at ReserveUSA.com a month ago to reserve a site for two nights. Lo and behold, there is an older couple camped in our site and they know nothing about reservations. Luckily, there are a couple of campsites still open, and we settle in to one next to the showers.
There are reserved signs on other occupied campsites, and I check at the ranger station the next day and find that our site was indeed reserved. Either the sign blew away or was taken down before we arrived. I have heard of several problems using ReserveUSA to check out campground and cabins, such as double booking and lost reservations and I think I will avoid using them in the future.
In any case we rest up in the evening as the shadows extend from the San Ysidro Mountains to prepare for an early morning hike up Borrego Palm Canyon