The Great Valley surrounded by snow from the eastern slope.
On the road this morning by 9, we looked up the road ahead and in spite of the heavy clouds and snow peeking through here and there, we weren’t the least bit worried. Snow level 4,000 feet, pass level, something just below that. Our outside temperature reading was something like 48 degrees. No ice at that temperature for sure. By the time we actually drove into Tehachapi, most of yesterday’s heavy snows had melted, with dirty brown piles around on the sidewalks, but the roads were perfectly clear.
West of the Tehachapi’s, green valley rangeland
It only took an hour, and suddenly we were on the east side of the mountains, looking back at the beautiful snow and basking in the brilliant sunshine coming through the windshield. We decided again to skip Barstow and go directly south on 395, varying our route from last December to just add a little bit of interest. After gassing up at Kramer’s Corner, still just 3.89 per gallon, I took over the driving duties.
East of the Tehachapi’s, open desert
Relocating Garmin Girl to the middle of the windshield where I could drive and navigate at the same time, I settled in ready to tackle LA traffic. The southern route crossed Cajon Pass, and it was fast and steep. I had forgotten how much of Southern California is really mountains rather than the basins that I remember. The wild crosshatch of faults running in all directions, with uplifts and mass wasted hillsides, huge crevasses of eroded slopes, and wild shifting geology makes for an incredible landscape. Today, for the first time in more years than I care to remember, Riverside was crystal clear and we could see mountains all around us in all directions. Almost as amazing, the traffic all the way was light and easy, with many folks kindly making way for the MoHo to change lanes when needed, and giving me plenty of room to navigate.
Garmin Girl did a great job getting me through the interchanges, and Mo tackled the I-phone and paper maps to try to figure out why the GPS units kept wanting to take us all the way east on I-10 to Indio before going south to Borrego. I kept saying, “The GPS is programmed for fastest, I think the phone does shortest, and the map isn’t detailed enough.” Mo was determined that we should go south and cross on 79, but I was a bit worried about that route since I knew there was a pretty steep drop-off into Borrego Springs. What the heck, it’s an adventure anyway, and we crossed Highway 36 last month and we decided it couldn’t be any worse than that.
So south we went, turning east on the Temecula Parkway and traveling through the beautiful wild country toward Warner Springs and Julian. Just before Warner Springs, in a huge broad valley, we came upon huge drifts of “goldfields” a common wildflower in the California foothills. The sheets of yellow stretched all across the valley, and with the snow covered peaks all around it, the contrast was incredible.
The 22s route east from Highway 79 is paved, two lanes all the way, and not nearly as narrow as the coast mountain range roads we traveled last month. The grade IS steep, and the hairpins are dramatic, but it’s over fast, maybe fifteen minutes from the summit to the basin floor at Borrego. The automatic downshift transmission, “torque converter” Mo thinks that what it is called, but whatever the name, it does a great job of holding her back and keeping us from having to use the brakes. We rolled into the State Park just in time to hear that the last spot had been taken.
I know there are a ton of places around Borrego to boondock, but without an internet connection, I didn’t have access to all that information at the moment, and it was late. Instead, we stopped in at the Borrego Holiday Home Park, reviewed by Laurie last month, and by 5 we were settled in to a nice site on the east side of the park facing open desert for 27 bucks, full hookup. I originally planned to stay at the State Park, but this was so simple, and we are only going to be here one more night, so tomorrow will be a day of exploration and we will just come back home to our little cozy spot here.
I told Mo that from now on I need to try to remember all those places I have read about, and if we even have a slight chance we might boondock, I need to have maps and locations and coordinates! Especially late in the day after driving freeways.
Tomorrow we will explore Anza Borrego State Park, and with a good weather forecast, I am really looking forward to a day in the sun.