Choosing the backroads through the desert is a winner.
The drive from Brite Lake was a long day, but I knew that was coming. I made the conscious choice to go way out of the way just to avoid going anywhere near the greater Los Angles area. Been there, done that, let’s try Plan B. This involved taking 58 all the way to Barstow, and then cutting down 247 to the Joshua Tree area. From there we took 62 through Morongo Valley to skirt along the western side of Joshua Tree until we hit 10 at Indio. The entire drive up until 10 was through lonely desert country with few other cars or signs of civilization, which is a decidedly less stressful way to road trip.
Hard to see, but that’s a lot of planes and windmills, and apparently, spaceships.
Just as we came down from the Tehachapi Pass, we saw the Mohave Air and Space Port. Why was I not more aware that we have something literally called a “space port” in California?? I have so many questions. Just seeing that many airplanes and windmills all together in the desert is an interesting enough sight, but do we actually launch and land space things there? I need to know more about this.
Lunch stop at an OHV “oasis.” You could say we looked a bit out of place.
We took a quick lunch break at the soonest spot we could find on Highway 247 to pull over. There were quite a few ATV people gathering around what looked to be a well known eatery. I looked it up and sure enough, Slash X Ranch is listed as an “oasis for OHV activity.” So if that’s your thing, you should definitely go there. There is also a place at the intersection of 247 and 62 in Yucca Valley called Cafe 247 that was hopping. I’m not sure if they have an official theme, but it did seem to attract quite a large flag waving clientele. “Large” in all applications of that adjective. The Confederate flag was definitely in line with the apparent dress code. We passed.
Dropping down into the valley along Highway 62.
Morongo Valley was a striking drive through a rocky valley, and quite the descent into Indio. Once we hit 10, it was an instant parking lot for several miles. This reaffirmed my routing decisions even though we were not able to avoid all of it. Long day of driving, but we arrived in lovely Anza Borrego park with plenty of sunlight remaining in the day.
Richard: Are you sure that’s the trail?
Me: Probably. They did it. Seems legit.
Me in my head: No way am I going back through the slot canyon squeezing by all those maskless people. Just don’t look down. At all.
I do love this park. There is so much to do and it feels adventurous, but with the safety net of LTE and a cute town nearby with all the services you could need, even if you don’t use them. We did a couple of repeat activities, like biking/sagging up Montezuma Valley Road, and hiking the Slot Canyon trail. One key difference with the latter was that I was a lot less happy with the idea of trying to pass anyone in the narrowest parts of the slot. Even though I’ve gotten my second shot and Richard has gotten his first, there are many unmasked people out there on the trails and that is too close for comfort. So…I noticed an indication of a trail on our map app, climbing up to the road on the far side of the canyon. When we got to where our GPS said the trail should be, we saw a couple scrambling up a seriously steep rocky climb. But they made it to the top and didn’t look to be rock climber types any more than I am, so I just went for it. It turned out to be significant and actually could have ended badly. But it didn’t! We made it all the way up without dying, probably because I never looked back or down even for a second. If I had looked just a little farther down the trail, I would have seen a much easier way up. So note to future self: don’t necessarily follow the people on the trail ahead of you. Second note: maybe check a little further ahead before you start climbing crazy pseudotrails.
Maybe not as technical an ascent as our driveway, but at least we got to use Sand Mode.
In addition to the tried and true activities, we tested out a new one, tailor made for Bruce2. There is a trail head to some wind caves that is down a three and a half mile unpaved road, recommended only for vehicles with high clearance and four wheel drive. Check! This was the primary reason we landed on the Passport and Bruce2 did not disappoint. I actually got to use the traction settings for the first time and you know what? That stuff is not just marketing. You could actually feel the wheels distributing power differently and it seemed to work. We straddled large rocks and traversed a whole lot of sand and gravel to get to the end. I was feeling all badass until I saw a minivan out there with us. But for the record, I would not have tried most of that with the Acura.
Richard secretly checking status of hidden cake.
It was during the bumping and vibrating of the off road adventure that Richard remembered he had gotten me a surprise birthday cake the Thursday before we left. He bought it on impulse when we was on a mission for cornstarch and margarita mix, realizing it was going to be my birthday during the trip. There was a nice display of little cakes near the checkout line so he stowed it in his backpack and biked it home. He then had to hide it somewhere I would not find it. There being so few places where that could work, he selected his bike box in the car and didn’t think about it again for four days. Hearing all the contents of the car getting jostled around reminded him. He brought it out the next morning and we had a good laugh. Then we debated in earnest about whether it would be safe to eat. We did. It was great. Good job sweetie!
Found the sea serpent!
On our way out, we stopped and looked for more of the massive sculptures scattered across the desert. The sculptures were created by artist Ricardo Breceda, on commission from Denis Avery, heir to the Avery Labels fortune. The privately owned “Galleta Meadows” stretches across miles of Borrego Springs land. It is a fun activity to try to go find the various horses, scorpions, sea serpents, or what have you.
Perfect Spring Break vibes.
Temperatures were downright hot at times, so this is a great destination for winter or spring break, but not beyond. There was no super bloom this year due to low rainfall, but that sure would be something to see. Perfect destination for a psychic reboot and birthday joy (with cake).
Total Miles: 288.2, 15.9 mpg, 6 hours 38 min. Site 34, then 25, both with full hookups. 34 is a pull through with pretty good spacing between neighbors. 25 is a “pull along” on the outside of the loop, right by the campground road. It had hookups on the “wrong” side, so we ran power cable underneath. Too difficult to do that with sewer, so used dump. Good dump. Fresh potable water there for filling up too. Great LTE for both of us. Great solar but didn’t need it.