The goal was to find the wildflowers and oh, was it met; surpassed actually, with flying colors.
The lovely Grace Wong, adventuresofgreyswan.com, has been in California for a few weeks now and we have been getting her properly set in, planning our long venture up to Canada and having many smaller adventures along the way.
Considering this past winter in California has been one of the wetest in many years, and seeing first hand it’s touch on the local hills; being the greenest I have ever seen them, I knew that it was a necessity to go out and see the wild flower bloom together.
Rumors of locations to best see the blooms echoed through my many media platforms, but we narrowed it down to Anzo Borrego. Being so close to San Diego, I figured we could make a whole skate trip out of this endeavor and began to contact the scene down south.
We set forth with a vague plan: head to the city, see the homies and then camp in the desert and awake to skate followed by exploring the blooms.
After a wonderful meetup with the boys over at Muirskate and the biggest burrito I ever ate for dinner; literally the size of my forearm! (thank you SD <3), we headed out into the desert. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones with this plan. The campsite was completely full. Luckily, with my handy dandy hatchback Toyota Matrix, we were able to find a place to set up shop and we slept nice and cozy in the car.
We awoke to the sounds of car doors closing outside and familiar voices. Lui and Colin from the SD skate scene came out to join us in a morning skate session on “Mars”. Though this location normally resembles Mars; desert like, coated in shades of browns with no signs of life; this day brought forth a completely new landscape. Vibrant hues of greens and yellows lined the road and nearby mountains and in the distant view, the whole desert floor glittered green- a glorious and rare sight to behold our there!
We dropped in on our skateboards for a few runs down this wonderful curvy road. To our dismay, the numbers of cars steadily increased with the rising hours. Every descent we took was faced with the chance of a distracted driver, looking at flowers, pulling out on us. We deemed it unsafe and decided to head to another hill nearby.
This new hill echoed with crickets. Not one car rolled through as we made our way up this familiar set of squiggles. We skated for a couple hours, taking runs until our bellies roared for sustenance.
Julian Pie Co., beckoned us and it was a call not lightly ignored. Now in the Oceania side of the planet, New Zealand, where Grace is originally from, when you say “Pie” they don’t instantly think of classic apple, cherry or sweet sugary goodness. The image and accompanying the belly grumble comes from a savory meat pie. Not saying that they don’t have sweet pie, savory pies are just more common from down there. She ordered a classic french apple with cinnamon ice cream and scarfed it down as we all enjoyed in our own slices and each others company.
Once our bellies were filled and all words exchanged, it was time to part ways with the boys and head back to the desert to catch some of the blooms for ourselves. It was our turn to be the “leafers”.
With a marked up map from one of my hiking buddies (thanks Gene!), we ventured off the main roads to find the treasures marked with stars. Our first stop found us driving down a soft dirt road. We parked and explored around with little signs of flowers, but what else we found was all the more incredible.
Caterpillars. Everywhere! Little zucchini looking things gliding quickly across the sand and dangling from every yucca and flowering plant. Seeing them initially surprised us, but after our many, many, many more encounters we realized it to be normal. We later found them out to be the Sphinx Moth Caterpillar. These Caterpillars feast of the leaves of the nearby plants and once they become butterflies they search for nectar from blooming flowers. Their wingspan is relative to their body giving them the ability to hover over plants when feasting, similar to hummingbirds. Now, unlike other caterpillars that dangle in cocoons during metamorphosis, these guys do it a little differently. They dig holes in the ground and then bury themselves. And then boom, two weeks later their now butterfly selves, emerge and seek pollination. As butterflies, they have a huge migration through the desert and can be seen in large packs. I’m sure it would be an incredible sight, but alas, we just caught them as caterpillars, very active, in the sun, munching on leaves and flowers and just hanging about.
I took way too many photos of these lil guys. I won’t post them all, but trust me there were hundreds, ha!
We found a beautiful giant cactus and kept venturing deeper in until we found the remnants of a river bed. We followed it in a bit and hit the jackpot. A whole side of the bed was lined with beautiful little baby pink wildflowers, by the hundreds. It was gorgeous.
We went back to our map to find the next spot to explore and headed back to the paved roads.
With no idea where I was driving and Grace navigating with this basic map, we happened up a road lined with sculptures. Silence overcame the car as we tried to figure out what we were looking at.
I immediately swung the wheel and headed into the dirt road surrounding this sight.
Hundreds of these metal sculptures lay tucked away in the sands of Borrego Springs, crafted by the amazing Ricardo Breceda. These sculptures are meant to include creatures of the desert from the past and present, ranging from a giant serpent to elephants, camels, a couple off roading in a Jeep and many, many more. We spent the rest of the night searching for as many sculptures as we could before the light dimmed and our vision lessoned.
Grace and I enjoyed playing around with the sculptures. (Right photo credit to Michelle Kiba)
Once it became too dark, we decided it was finally time to head deeper into the desert and began our drive to Joshua Tree..