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Joshua Tree National Park to Anza-Borrego State Park
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Joshua Tree National Park to Anza-Borrego State Park

Original Article and Photographs by Kenneth A. Larson © 2017 - 2017

Day One

We got off late as always, but it took less time to reach our first stop, so it worked out alright. After a stop at a rest area off of I-10 just before crossing into Riverside County, we continued to Highway 62 north, crossing back into San Bernardino County. After a quick stop at the Welcome Center in Yucca Valley, we drove north on highway247 to Landers to visit the Integratron.
The Integratron was built by George Van Tassel from designs given to him by extraterrestrials. The device was intended to extend life using electromagnetic fields generated by the specific wires and electrodes in this otherwise all-wood construction, Unfortunately George died before he could finish the project and it is now used for "Sound Baths." Sound Baths are booked a month in advance and we were unable to be rejuvenated by the soothing sound, but I did buy the CD. We decided that we will return for a sound bath Integratron
someday if possible, there are still many wonderful things to visit in this area. Visit their web site for details and driving instructions.

A few hundred feet south of the Integratron is Gubler Orchids with a store and it offers tours of the green houses. Since I would likely kill an orchid if I owned one and we were pressed for time, we skipped the tour. I got a slight chuckle that the store had more Venus Fly Trap plants than orchids, they both grow well in the same climate. Gubler Orchids
Gubler Orchids

We continued back to Yucca Valley and visited High-Desert Nature Museum with several displays of handmade baskets, dioramas, gems and minerals, and even small live animals such as snakes and cave cockroaches. We spent about half an hour here and continued east back on Highway 62. High-Desert Nature Museum
High-Desert Nature Museum

We stopped at the west entrance Visitor Center to Joshua Tree National Park and got some information, but then continued east to Twentynine Palms. In Twentynine Palms, we spent a little less than an hour at the Old Schoolhouse Museum. The building began as a one-room schoolhouse and eventually added two more spaces. The entire building was moved to this location to avoid demolition some years ago. I expected to hear that it was moved in sections, but this large building, maybe one hundred feet or more in length, was moved Old Schoolhouse Museum
Old Schoolhouse Museum
in one piece, not counting the concrete steps that were moved separately. I'm told that Huell Howser did a program on the move which I hope to see some day. The original classroom is set up about as it would have been then, the middle section has displays of what I would call antiques, the last room is the gift shop and entrance. Outside are the original moved steps and a small building sheltering a school bus, the first public transportation in the area.

It was now time to check into our motel and then head into Joshua Tree National Park. I had visited the park briefly in 1988 when it was still a National Monument, but it was a quick visit and my wife had never seen it. We entered the park at the North Entrance and followed the road as is wound its way back to the west entrance (near the Visitor Center that we had visited about three hours earlier). While the park is full of Joshua Trees, all different from one another, we enjoyed viewing the rock formations even more. Since it was Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
still raining a little and cold, we mostly observed from the car, planning to drive though again tomorrow. All day we were treated to intermittent rain from a ten-year storm that was passing through. About a half hour before sundown, the clouds started to clear and we got a few photos with blue sky. Just before leaving the park, we stopped to watch the sunset, but it's wasn't what we had hoped for, so we headed out.

After we exited the park, we enjoyed a dinner at Edchadas Mexican Restaurant in Twentynine Palms and returned to the motel to settle in for the night.

Day Two

I awoke early, enjoyed our continental breakfast, and I attended Mass at a nice little church while my wife got some extra sleep. We checked out and headed back to the West Entrance to do the loop from yesterday, but going the other direction with clear skies.

We had stopped at the West Visitor Center the day before so we continued into the park. Yesterday as we drove this section, the skies were just clearing, today the skies were clear. We drove a short while and then pulled into Quail Springs, a parking area adjacent to interesting rocks. We climbed the rocks and took photos for a few minutes, then continued. We crossed the county line to the Riverside section of Joshua Tree National Park and continued east along Park Road, stopping occasionally Quail Springs
Quail Springs, Joshua Tree National Park
to take photographs. Eventually we worked our way east to Pinto Bean Road, leading to the south entrance. As this road continues south, it passes though a very different landscape as
the road descended from the high desert to the low desert. The Joshua trees were few as we continued south but there was more cactus. We made two stops, the first at the Cholla Cactus Garden which is a large field of cactus and a mile of so later, Ocotillo Patch which was filled with these tall thin clumps. We had packed a picnic lunch but couldn't find a place to eat it the day before, so today we picnicked at the South Visitor Center just before leaving the park. Cholla Cactus Garden

We crossed over I-10 and continued southwest on Box Canyon Road, a small highway through Box Canyon which had an opening at both ends so the name seems inappropriate. It was scenic despite the number of off-road vehicles trekking up and down the canyon. Eventually we crossed the Coachella Canal and reached Mecca on the northwest end of Salton Sea and continued south on the west side of the Sea along Highway 86 to Highway 78. After traveling west on Highway 78 through Ocotillo Wells Off-Road area we Box Canyon
Box Canyon
finally entered Anza-Borrego State Park, the largest State Park in California.
Much of Anza-Borrego State Park is too rugged for my car so we had to limit our sightseeing to paved roads. We could have taken Borrego Springs Road further north, but chose to take a longer, more scenic route further south which turned out a little too winding for my wife's comfort. We took S3 north to Borrego Springs which is a community surrounded by the park. After a while we found the Visitor Center at the west end of Palm Canyon Drive just as we ran out of time. A few quick questions and we continued back on S3 to Highway 78 and traveled west over a winding road to Julian. Visitor Center
Visitor Center

We thought we had left the rain yesterday, but in Julian, it was still wet from a recent rain and it was much colder than we experienced yesterday. The usually tourist filled town was quiet because of the weather. Carmon's was about to close early but held the door so we had a private dinner. Carmons is popular for its Mexican food, but this wasn't the right night, so we had very satisfying American food. We then checked into the Julian Lodge for the night. It seemed an accomplishment since we had twice before canceled reservations at the Lodge. The Lodge is a rustic bed and breakfast a block off the main street.

Day Three

We awoke early and got ready. The breakfast was still an hour away so I walked through Julian and bought a pie from Mom's. We had been to Julian many times, but this was the first time we had spent the night. Every other time we had visited Julian, it was full of tourist, cars, and motorcycles. It was so peaceful to walk the empty streets in the fog and mist. The only person I saw was the man collecting the garbage from the day before and a feral cat who he fed. I only had to dodge a half dozen cars as I wandered the Main Street in Julian
Main Street in Julian
town with my Apple Crumb Pie from Mom's. We enjoyed our breakfast, packed up, and checked out. We stopped at the Julian Pie Company, which had just opened for the day, to get an Apple Mountain Berry pie. With two pies in the back seat, we left Julian with our mission accomplished.

Carrizo Badlands Overlook
Carrizo Badlands Overlook
We returned to Anza-Borrego the way we had come the night before as far as Highway S2 which we followed south for about 30 miles. I wanted to see more of the interior, or as much as I could from paved roads. We turned around at Carrizo Badlands Overlook which was a little way off the pavement on a road too rough for my low clearance car, so I parked and walked in a short way. My wife was anxious to get home so we turned back, retracing our way back to Borrego Springs along S2, 78, and S3. A few miles before the center of town is an open area along Borrego Springs Road with metal sculptures by a local artist, Ricardo Breceda. We saw a few of these, but later learned there are more on the other side of town.

We stopped at the Visitor Center again and asked about Palm Canyon but my wife missed her dog so we skipped it and headed home along Highway S22 to S2, stopped a few minutes at Warner Ranch, which was closed, and then 79 to Temecula where we caught I-15 north. We arrived home just before dark. It was our dog's second time alone but he survived with some visits from my brother and it was my kitten's first nights alone. Warner Ranch
Warner Ranch

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This page last updated: Sunday, 30-Apr-2017 01:40:50 EDT

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