A two and half hour drive for just the flowers would have been just fine, but through all that googling I found out there were these metal sculptures in the desert around Borrego Springs, just another 30 minutes away. My interest expanded and our journey now had a destination, and along the way we can see the blooming desert. Perfect!
From I-8 we took the Ocotillo/Imperial HWY exit and headed north.
As you go through a very small part of the town, there are windmills everywhere. They are HUGE! There is also a large solar panel field just before (as you go west on the I-8). It's pretty huge too!
The first stop was the Wind Caves.
The drive to the trail ended up being a dirt road which looked like maybe another 30-45 minutes or so, and from there a two and a half mile hike to the caves and back. We decided it wasn't something we could do this trip, but definitely something we wanted to come back for and do when we are better equipped and are able to start earlier in the day. I can only imagine what an incredible day it will be especially after reading the board. I LOVE fossils. Though we aren't allowed to remove any we find, I can capture them. Now I can't wait to go back.
As we drove on, at first the scenery didn't seem to have much color. Spots of ocotillo cactus are scattered about here and there as you wind up through the canyons. Every now and then some purple and yellow flowers were visible but nothing like what I had seen pictures of. Imperial Hwy turns into or is also called Sweeney Pass Road. Just after a switchback and as you head back down into a valley, the color begins to pop up more often. When it becomes the Great Southern Overland Stage Route, by Aqua Caliente Hot Springs, slow down! Color will begin to pop up all around you.
I wish there had been more places to pull over. I don't like getting blurry pictures. He would pull over when he could but we were not alone on this drive, a few other motorist had the same idea as us. Had it been a sunnier day, there might have been more color but with the sun comes along more people! I am very happy with what color I saw, even though my camera didn't pick up all we were seeing, but my internal camera captured it all!
The red of the Ocotillo grows up and covers the mountain side like a blanket.
As you wind around, you will come to the Box Canyon Monument. Sad how the young adults destroy property. It wasn't the only one with bullet holes. I might be mistaken and they could have been older folks, but I would almost bet a horse, ha-ha, it was the youngsters. Thinking how and what those back then must have experienced traveling this same road by stagecoach.
"THE OLD WAY VARIOUSLY KNOWN AS SONORA, COLORADO RIVER OR SOUTHERN EMIGRANT TRAIL AND LATER AS BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND MAIL (MAN) ROUTE TRAVERSED BOX CANYON JUST EAST OF HERE. JANUARY 19, 1847, THE MORMON BATTALION, UNDER COMMAND OF LT-COL. PHILIP ST. G COOKE USING HAND TOOLS HEWED A PASSAGE THROUGH THE ROCKY WALLS OF THE NARROW GORGE FOR THEIR WAGONS AND OPENED THE FIRST ROAD INTO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA."
The color around it though was awesome! So many buds waiting to bloom.
This century cactus is about ready to bloom. It reminded me of an asparagus spear. Others around had green stems extending from them but none had actually flowered all the way yet. California's drought had affected the desert blooms but the recent rains have helped bring them back to life.
As you drive on you enter what is or was known as Earthquake Valley. Shelter Valley is within this valley.
We finally arrived...
It wasn't but what seemed like a few seconds we saw one, then two, then three.
They were everywhere!
Driving into the desert I was a bit apprehensive at first. I didn't want us to get stuck. In fact, no one was getting stuck!
Finally we found the one I wanted to see the most. It consists of five separate sculptures to make up a dragon crossing the road. Though he was bigger then the first bird we found, he wasn't as detailed. Don't get me wrong, he was still gorgeous, and grand, it's just that bird with snakes in his claws had more intricate details.
These are the last one we found. Actually there were a half dozen turtles but I only snapped a couple pictures of them.
Since the sun was going to set, taking away all my natural light, we made our way back into town for some dinner. After all it was only suppose to be a 5 hour round trip adventure that ended up being over 8 hours.
*TIP* Remember to take into account all your stops, and there will be a lot! Next time we plan to bring the trailer and stay a couple of days or more.
Oh, we also found the Anza-Borrego Desert National History Association that had a lot of information. We should have stopped there earlier. This map would have come in handy considering the one I printed from online was pretty generic and didn't list all the sculptures. (so I ordered it) I figure we saw well close to 100 if not over. Next time I might try to capture the ones we missed so I have them all.
Another day on Our Journey Through Life I will never forget!