Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hasta Borrego, Baby!

Exercising gentle persuasion, a friend convinced me to accompany her on a camping- adventure-extravaganza to Anza-Borrego this past weekend. Being that she is an expert in AB terrain and the ways of camping, I figured the trip would prove to be smooth sailing- What actually played out was just short of comical-fiasco.

We left Friday morning at 6:30 and flew down the 405. First stop: Julian, a sleepy little historic town where over-priced antique and souvenir shops reign supreme. We sank into doughy red leather (*yellow leather*) booth seating at Buffalo Bills just in time to appease our gurgling tummy-protests. Let the sacrifice of french toast and scrambled eggs begin!

Warning: It's risky business filling up on greasy breakfast food just before hitting a crooked mountain highway!

P.S. AB is a monstrous stretch of arid wilderness! It would require several weeks to travel and absorb its numerous and diverse landscapes.

Arriving at our camp site, we set up our tent and inspected the vaulted toilet situation- surprisingly clean! I spied (*with my little eye*) a fascinating spider, feeling it's way around the cement foundation... yellow and silver- polka-dotted go-go gadget legs! We'll come back to this later.

It was onto the wind caves, which kick started a chain of unfortunate events.

Minutes after leaving the campgrounds, we managed to get our 4 wheel-drive pick-up stuck in a sandy portion of the road- Luckily, a family who'd stopped behind us several 100 feet back took pity on my futile efforts to dig out the back tire: let me skim the surface layer of sand- smoothing it out will cause some sort of improvement to our situation, just watch! With their help, our vehicle was pushed to safety. We would meet up with them again at the wind caves and return the favor by giving them a ride back to their vehicle.

Up one steep hill to the caves. It was a hot afternoon. Resting in the shadows of the caves we decided to bust out our dehydrated Mexican Rice and Chicken- alas, our Jet Boil refused to ignite- thus leaving us lunchless. On the way back down, the rocks under-foot gave way and I brushed the side of a fully loaded bramble bush- Youch! Go on without me guys...I've gotta take care of something.

The Slot is an AB must see, this carefully carved canyon was next on our list- We hiked The Slot with our rescuers and had a great time discussing the oddities of Minnesota- where the son spent the first 4 years post graduation working. Have you heard of the biggest ball of twine? It's 4 meters (13 ft) in diameter and weighs 7,900 kg (17,400 lbs). Francis A. Johnson's obsession started in March, 1950 and stole four hours of every day for 23 weeks. It is currently housed in a specially made gazebo across from the town park on Main Street in Darwin, Minnesota, and the town celebrates "Twine Ball Day" the second Saturday in August every year.

When we emerged from the canyon, we'd unknowingly exited just past our parking spot and kept walking in the opposite direction. It took us a good 20 minutes to figure out what'd happened to our vehicles as herculean gust of wind endeavored to knock us to the canyon floor.

The horizon line blushed in the gleaming pink of sunset. Worn by the day's excursion, we felt ready for a quick dinner, campfire, then bed! My friend finally figured out the jet boil dilemma. She poured in the suggested 2 cups of water and then some (this time pad-thai), while I drank 2 quarts of water, perpetuating a trip to the loo.

They say the desert comes alive at night- apparently they're not joking.

While we'd been out and about, that lowly singular spider exploring the bathroom, decided to invite all his cousins to our campsite for a reunion-the ground was crawling! One had burgeoned into 100's- "Better to carry you off to our webby lair! (Insert diabolical laugh here).

My friend is deathly afraid of spiders- after karate kicking one off her shirt, stomping a dozen to their deaths, flicking one off our tent, it became clear, we weren't going to sleep here tonight! My friend started hopping up and down, in this sort of frantic rain dance fashion. She, bellowed, "Get the tent! Shake it off! Put it in the car!" But, the tent is fully assembled... "I don't care we'll make it fit!...we can have dinner in the car..." ps- our jet boil masqueraded as a miniature geyser, just before discovering the non-habitability of our location.

We picked up our fully made tent erratically shaking it off, then contorted and shoved it in the back of my friend's truck. Our firewood drenched in propane, still begging to be lit as we peeled out of the vicinity, snagging a pint-sized boulder along the way. The whole time fellow campers, evidently undisturbed by the eight-legged batallion, had been watching us with amusement...I'd wondered what they called out, when I'd hopped out of the car momentarily to re-shut my door... It must've been something to the effect of, "there's a big rock under your car!" It clicked in my head on the crash down.

Due to intense stuff-shuffling and crammed careless rearranging, our door ajar light had come on- this proved to be a problem after parking at a hotel to inquire about room availability- the 3 cabin lights were extremely bright and red hot. After shutting and re-shutting all the doors and rear hatch and jabbing and twisting every possible control switch, desperation took hold- What's causing the light's repudiation?! If we stay here and camp with this light on all night the truck's battery will surely drain by morning-

We concluded it would be best to leave the park and tackle the cabin light quandary once back to civilization again- we took a different highway out- by the light of the moon, over jackknifed uphill terrain, what could've taken an hour, took 3. We literally drove in a huge circle once back in Julian- the road seemed to stretch on FOREVER! I felt like crying the moment a certain green glowing abode came into view a second time- 25 minutes full circle-not cool!

A bakery employee who'd given us directions to B. Bills that morning, told us, while parked atop a barstool, the way to Oceanside at about 11:45 that night- Let's just say we pulled into the Ramada Limited at a quarter to 3- beat, cranky, confused. Turns out a pocket knife was jammed in the door-

Thank goodness my friend discovered it because we were having issues disconnecting the negative cable from the battery- Thank goodness for friends- Specifically Joe in this instance for booking us a room and then refusing our cashola when we met up with him for lunch 8 hours later in S.D. And most importantly, thank goodness for prayer; I think we set a record for ourselves yesterday.

What a trip- I can't say I'll never go camping again, but maybe the next time will occur in the distant future as opposed to near.

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