Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

This is a Borrego, a bighorn sheep that inhabits the park.  They are endangered, so some of them have been tagged for monitoring, as seen in the photo below.  They are amazingly agile and climb around the rocks of the hills in the park, making them very hard to spot on the slopes because they blend in so well.  
This desert habitat must be different from the areas I've been driving in, because there were blooming cacti here.  I was so happy to see them because I thought I'd be out of the desert area by the time they would start blooming.
The flowers below are on the barrel cactus, very long spines.  One species of barrel cactus is called the fishhook barrel cactus because the longest spines are hooked on the end and the spines are a dark red.
The ocotillo is very different and usually they look like spindly sticks with spines, but in the spring they bloom with sprays of red flowers on the tips.  This one didn't have many leaves, but when it rains, tiny leaves cover the branches within 48 hours. 
My four mile hike took me to an oasis in the middle of all this rocky desert area.  There was a small stream of water with little water falls and a grouping of various palms, a surprise out in the middle of the desert.

There were numerous little wildflowers of all colors blooming.  The one below is a tiny grouping that was no bigger than 2 inches across, so pretty sitting there in the sand.

The park covers over 600,000 acres and there is no way to see it in a short time.   They have numerous hikes and I may end up going over there again for different hikes. 
The ride home from the park was a unique experiment - a real honest-to-goodness dust storm like they show in the movies.  I went through a couple spots of it with sand drifting across the highway, the air thick brown with blown dust.  My visibility was down to probably 10 yards on the twisting, turning road out of the park. 
When I got back to the RV park, I decided I deserved a soak in the spa before I took my shower.  Then I had some fresh-squeezed orange juice.  It's a rough life, but somebody has to do it!


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