How my Love Affair with the Desert Began

It Really Is More Than Sand And Cacti

Hellooooo!  Welcome to my inaugural blog post!  I have been invited to share my experiences, my stories, and my images.  Getting out in nature, like many other folks, is my therapy.  I enjoy discovering new places, flora, and fauna and learned to really pay attention to what is all around me.  If something looks slightly out of place, I will pause to take a closer look.  Most of the time that instinct has served me well.  

I have been visiting the Anza Borrego Desert State Park since October of 1976.  My brother and I had just arrived from Canada.  I was 9 and my brother 7 years old when we were plucked from our foster home outside of Stratford, Ontario. We went on our very first plane ride from Toronto to Los Angeles by ourselves on an L10-11. Upon landing we were escorted off of the plane by the pilot himself into the arms of our grandparents, who later adopted the two of us.   

We grew up and lived in Escondido, located about 30 miles north of San Diego.  We were super excited when we first arrived in Southern California All my brother I did was count Orange and Palm Trees. After all, we only heard and saw about them through television and books. We visited the world famous San Diego Zoo and Disneyland. Adding to our introduction to Southern California, our grandparents took us to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. 

I have to be honest, my love affair with the park was not immediate. It was a 2-hour drive from Escondido and I felt a little sick after going down the Montezuma Grade into the desert. My dad thought he was a race car driver and I have never been so frightened in my life! He was going down the grade way too fast and I was positive we were going to plunge over the cliff to our deaths. When we arrived to Borrego Springs, I may or may not have kissed the ground when we stopped at the mall. After visiting the stores, we drove around exploring the area.  I distinctly remember driving by the elementary school and wondering how could you go to school when it was so hot?  After all, the desert was an inhospitable place full of sand and cacti.

After that visit, much to my dismay, my folks bought my brother and I good hiking boots and backpacks.  As a family we would spend at least 2 Saturday’s a month, starting in October and extending through May, exploring all corners of the park.  The more we explored, the more it slowly started to grow on me.  I remember the first time I saw a Jackrabbit.  It was huge! We were on a viewpoint overlooking the badlands when we saw it running away from us.  It seriously did look like an antelope galloping away from us! I also remember hiking through a slot canyon nearby the Calcite Mines and freaking out, because one, what if there was an earthquake and two, it was cloudy, and what if a flash flood came through?  Good news!  I’m still here till tell the tale.  

Now as an adult, I have learned to appreciate the desert as much as my parents did.  I am delighted to be asked to share my stories and my images.  I am looking forward to having you join me on my journeys through the lens of my camera. 

About Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (/ˈænzə bəˈreɪɡoʊ/AN-zə bə-RAY-goh) is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th-century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, a Spanish word for sheep. With 585,930 acres (237,120 ha) which includes one-fifth of San Diego County, it is the largest state park in California.

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