Friday, February 27, 2009


This week we took a 4 wheel drive on the "Cut Across Trail". It was a 20 mile drive across the desert connecting highway S22 to S78.

Along the road we stopped at 17 palms, an historic oasis where the early pioneers and traders would leave messages for others on the desert. Marlene added our message to the mail box which is lodged between two of the 17 palms.

The oasis stands by itself in the middle of nowhere.

Our next stop was at "Uno Palm", a lone palm tree in the middle of the badlands.

At the far south end of the crossing we came across our new aquaintences, Ron and Molly, who were camped at Hawk Canyon. This is the same couple who shared pizza with us the other night.

The following day, Marlene's four mile hike took her to the blooming desert along Henderson Canyon Road near where we are parked. Each day as I ride to the hawk watch site I pass through these blooming flowers. On the bicycle, early in the morning, I can smell the fragrance of the blossums.

On this morning they wer filming the Park Superintendant for a TV spot about the blooming desert.

On Friday we fired up the oven for the last time this year. We needed bread for our trip home. After 4 hours of fire, raking out the coals, and sinking the heat, the oven was holding 650 degrees. We got impatient and inserted the loaves.

Marlene was a little disappointed. The crust got a little too dark and the bottom was buned.

However, the bread was delicious and now we have enough to last us till we return to Oregon.

We are packed and ready and will leave here Sunday morning. It's hard to leave. The sun is shining, the temperature has been in the 80's, the nights are cool

Friday, February 20, 2009


It has taken 2 days to complete this post. When the cell towers are busy at the same time I try to upload pictures, the upload takes so long that my blog upload is broken and I have to start over. Marlene completed the caning of one of the chairs we brought along. The finished work is beautiful and she is rightfully proud of her work.

In the mean time I have been busy improving our site in the desert. While in Quartzsite, I watched some of men build a table out of old pallets. The hardware store here in Borrego sets out the old pallets for people to take. I helped myself to 4 old pallets and using the material from two of them I put together a base and four legs of the table. Another trip past the hardware store revealed a 4' by 4' piece of plywood that had been cut in two on a diagonal. There were some old sheet rock screws imbedded in the plywood which I extracted and used to screw the plywood to the frame to complete the table.

Molly and Ron joined us for dinner the other night.

The table comes in handy when I fire up the oven and need space to hold my tools and unbaked pizzas. Here's a picture of one we made the other night when Ron and Molly joined us.

Thursday we went exloring with our Jeep on some of the back roads of Anza Borrego State Park. We invited our neighbors, Doug and JoAnn to go with us. We stopped for a picnic lunch using a pile of rocks as our picnic site.

The drive followed Fish Creek Road through a geologic formation called Split Mountain. The road followed an old stream bed and there were several times I used 4 wheel drive to take us through deep sand or over granite boulders in the stream bed.

The canyon had several interesting rock formations.

An anticline and sincline adjacent to one another showed the incredible force of buckling that took place eons ago.

In other areas the sediment layers were perfectly flat.

One side trip led us to the elephant tree.

We took some short hikes along the way to check out the desert blooms.

JoAnn spotted this cactus about 30 feet off the trail. It was the only one we have seen like this since we got here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Sometimes when we're in town doing errands we bring our computer along and use the wireless network at the local library. It's faster than our air card connection through ATT&T, especially when I'm uploading pictures to update our blog. Yesterday we hiked across Alcoholic Pass. It's a 3 1/2 mile hike with an altitude gain of 1670 feet. In order to not have to backtrack the same trail, we coordinated with Jim and Lynn, another Boomer couple. We took our vehicle to one side of the pass and hiked south to north. They went to the other end and hiked north to south.

The trail started on our end through a richly divergent natural cactus garden.

We reached to top in about 45 minutes from our end. The elevation gain is steep from this side. You climb the 1670 feet in about 1 mile. Going down the other side took us longer.

We met Jim and Lynn on the way down and stopped together to have lunch. The reason we took two vehicles is that even though the trail is short, the drive from one trail head to the other is about 18 miles and most of it is over 4 wheel drive type roads. It took us 45 minutes to drive from the trail head the 7 miles back to our RV.

The trail down the north side is not very well defined. It mostly followed a dry wash of an old stream bed and it was marked by an occasional rock pile to let you know you were still going the right way. About half way down we came to the this arrangement of stones. Cute, but not realistic. We still had a mile to go from this point to the vehicle.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This mornings sunrise resulted in the reflection of pink off the clouds over the village of Borrego Springs. This looked to be a good day to work on rebuilding the old oven. I had already gathered the clay from the lake bed and found straw, which was actually some sort of dried desert plant that had blown up against a row of trees along the road.

I added water and started mixing the clay. This is the hard part. It's like trying to run in place only each time your foot hits the ground it sticks.

When the mixture reached the right consitency, I added the broken up sage plant material.

I carried the material to the oven while Marlene placed it and packed it around the remains of the old oven.

This time we got the consistancy of the the clay just rigtht. It was really stiff and when we packed it in place it didn't slump and get thicker at the bottem like it had while building previous ovens.

Marlene was doing a good job of getting a full 4 to 5 inches of new clay over the top of the old oven.

We're really proud of the way this repair turned out. Note the use of Marlene's quilt cutting board as a form to hold the clay around the oven door.
Now all we need are a couple of good drying days, a fire for three hours, and some fresh bread dough and we're back in business. It's about time. We are running short of fresh bread and we have'nt had any pizza since we left Quartzsite.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


We try to start each day with some physical activity. I usually ride my bike and here in Borrego, the loop I do is 13.4 miles. Malene takes a hike during the same time and tries to keep her heart rate in the aerobic zone for at least a half an hour out of the hour walk. On Sunday we took a long strenuous hike together. We met a guy on the trail who took our picture for us.

We hikeed up Coyote peak and, although we didn't make it to the top we took this picture of the desert below us.

The next morning the sunrise was beautiful, but the dark clouds were an ominous indicator of a rainy day. Sure enough, a storm blew in and the wind and rain came and went all day.

That evening there was a great double rainbow just about sunset.
Tuesday's plan was to drive to San Diego where Marlene was to meet with her fourth cousin to do some genealogy work. As we started climbing the mountains between here and there we reached the snow line which had dropped to about 3000 feet during the night.

In Julian, where we stopped for coffee there was about a foot of new snow. Hey! That's why we come here. The variety here in the desert is incredible.

The sun was brilliant and the sky was clear and blue.

We met people on the road who had stopped to chain up. A couple of times I put the Jeep in 4 wheel drive to add some traction on the ice.

The icy branches reminded us of the ice storms we have in the Portland area on occassion.

San Diego was a good experience. We met Joan, who's great-great-grandmother was a sister to Marlene's great-great-grandmother in Germany. Marlene had been in correspondence with Joan for several years.

When they met, they got right down to work comparing notes and research records. Each had copies of family records the other didn't have. Fortunately I had taken a book with me to read while they were working. Three hours later we left Joan's house and went to her son's business where Joan and Marlene made copies of records they each wanted for their files.