Monday, February 28, 2011

Dean Karnazes ~ Run Across America ~ Coachella Valley, CA

Most weekday mornings our television will have the Live with Regis and Kelly show on. They keep us informed in a fun and entertaining way while we begin our day. Today they ended their show with an update from Dean Karnazes, who is making a Run Across America… and. he was passing by Indio, CA.
That is all I needed to hear! The morning plans were put on hold and we jumped into the truck to go find Dean ! I must admit that Keith didn’t have quite the same excitement that I felt, he thought we might not find Dean, but he was willing to try. We think he must have at least 3 hours on us but we’re not sure when that TV tape was made. I hope to be able to find him on the highway to at least get a picture that I can add to my Coachella Valley events.

Dean Karnazes and Run Across America
We’d driven about 45 minutes and were about to give up when we see a cyclist and a runner, could that be Dean?  I expect to see flashing lights and vehicles that accompany him, especially the TV crew that are following along but with nothing but a flashing light on the back of the bicycle, he is running 1-10 with no special signs or banners to identify him or his biking buddy.

Dean Karnazes and bicycle buddy
We pulled onto an access road just ahead of Dean and his buddy and waited for then to pass by while I take pictures and a video clip and call out my cheers for Dean Karnazes.  They waved and Dean called out “hi there” and “thanks” for the cheer! I had my pictures and more!!  See video at bottom of page.

Dean Karnazes on I10 - Coachella Valley
We won’t be following Dean any farther in our truck but we will be sure to follow him with Regis and Kelly’s daily TV updates as well as on their webpage.  If you’d like to read more about Dean Karnazes’ amazing Run Across America in support of fighting obesity, click here.   

Dean Karnazes on Run Across America - Day 4
We must admire Dean’s commitment to the cause and the length that he is willing to go, to support that cause.  He plans to run 65-80 km. (40 – 50 mi.) a day and will be running over 4800 km. (3000 miles) in 75 days before he finishes his Run Across America.

Good Luck to Dean Karnazes and his Team on their Run Across America.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park ~ Borrego Badlands ~ San Diego County

The San Jacinto Mountain Range made a great backdrop for our drive down to Borrego Springs, located in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park an hour or so from Palm Springs, CA.  We’d taken this trip before but hadn’t time to see all that we wanted so we were on our way again.  We followed I-10 to S86 and stayed on that road passing the Salton Sea until we reached S22, which took us west into the State Park.  Click here for the map of the Park.

San Jacinto Mountain Range across the Borrego Badlands
It is hard to imagine what would have given the early people the reason and fortitude that would take them through this barren desert and over the mountains but they did. The ancient trails they used are usually the best route between water sources, having passed the test of time and being the best choice for the challenges of the land, and the route most of the roads still follow.

Borrego Badlands
The Badlands are a haven for dirt bikers and a busy place especially on the weekends.  As we stood over one canyon to take some pictures, we could hear the echo of the bikes coming from far away as they made their way towards this canyon.  The trails used can be seen at the bottom of this valley.  There are over 850 km (500 mi) of dirt roads in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Ocotillo in Anza-Borrego Desert
The ocotillo can be seen scattered throughout the desert.  It is tall and spindly and grow in all but the highest and lowest elevations.  We found this one, which was over 4 metres (12 ft) tall, in bloom, but most were not quite ready for this display yet.  We hope to be able to enjoy more blooms on our next visit.

Blooms on ocotillo cactus

The cactus blooming season is very hard to pinpoint as it is subject to the weather and temperature so can vary from year to year. The best of the season lasts about two weeks.  The ocotillo blooms are such a beautiful vibrant orange but not to be picked from this plant with the very sharp spikes hidden under the green leaf. Enjoy them from afar!
Teddybear cholla cactus
This teddybear cholla (choy-ya) cactus is coming into bloom.  It is also called the ‘jumping cholla’ because it drops the joint, which look like spine balls, then it rolls around and can attach to wildlife or until it has a chance to root.  Most cacti should be approached carefully due to their spikes, but this one especially as it comes to you.

Galleta Meadow Estates at Borrego Springs, CA
The elevation in the park ranges from less than 5 meters (15 ft) to peaks over 1830 metres (6,000 ft).  There are hiking trails throughout the park suitable for all levels of hikers.  Information is available at their Visitor Center in Borrego Springs with a great short movie showing the desert in different seasons of the year.  The elephant is part of the incredible metal art displayed throughout the Galleta Meadow Estates.  Click here to see more of these artworks.

Borrego Badlands in Anza-Borrego Desert
The Borrego Badlands are one small part of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park but they sure are impressive.  We made several stops on our drive through to take some pictures of them at different times of day.  The afternoon sun shows these incredible shapes differently than the earlier sun, shapes which were formed over millions of years.

Sun setting on Borrego Badlands

We are roadside for this picture. If the roads follow the old footpaths of those Native People that first crossed this desert hundreds of years ago, we can only imagine the challenges they met daily. It has only been over 150 years since the San Antonio to San Diego mail route first passed through this area on their 53 day journey. The 2375 km (1475 mi) trip crossed the desert and over these mountains with stagecoach and mules.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was named for Captain Anza who led the colonists across the desert form Mexico to Monterey in 1775 and the borrego is the young sheep, which were with the very early settlers in this area. There are more than 600,000 acres in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that makes it one of the largest state parks in the United States and they’re planning more development. For more info on the park, click here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Borrego Springs, CA ~ Metal Art Sculptures ~ Ricardo Breceda

We love to see everything there is to see in the neighborhood where we are rv’ing.  Even if we think there might be nothing special to see, it is always great to be a tourist and enjoy what there is.  Sometimes we are just so lucky to find the unexpected.  

Wild horses in Borrego Springs, CA
I had wanted to go to Borrego Springs for awhile after having seen a local TV show about some metal artwork sitting in the desert.  It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided it would be a great time to drive down to Borrego Springs and have a look at this area and perhaps find the artwork.

Metal Sculpture horse in Borrego Springs, CA
It was a 90 minute drive through the Anza-Borrega Desert State Park to reach our destination and we were ready for lunch.  We stopped at Carlee’s Bar & Grill, and had a very delicious ‘burger and a cold drink, which was good, too.  While there, I asked for directions on how to find the art display, it is just outside the town and very easy to find. Click here for a neat map that shows where to find them all.

Metal sculpture of Ricado Breceda in Borrego Springs, CA
The owner of the Galleta Meadow Estates, Dennis Avery owns many acres surrounding Borrego Springs and has been responsible for bringing the artwork to the desert.  He has put up no fencing and gives the public free access to the artwork.  Mr. Avery also has signs that give permission to hike, horseback ride, picnic, take photos and also invites the public to camp up to 3 days.  He also asks that there are no motorized cycles used; they could damage the desert plants.

Horse sculptures at Galleta Meadow Estates
Mr. Avery hired Perris Jurassic Park owner/artist/welder Ricardo Breceda to create free standing art sculptures that would be on display in the desert for all to enjoy after seeing some of his work roadside in Perris, CA.  Click here to learn more about the artist.

Desert art display of sabertooth and horse at Borrego Springs, CA
When they’re new, the artwork is a natural silver colored metal but as they weather, the metal rusts and they become a rusty finish.  I understand there are over 50 sculptures altogether and there may be more to come.

Giant bird metal art sculpture, Borrego Springs, CA
The pre-historic look-alikes all represent those animals and birds that roamed here millions of years ago.  There are some that are life size but I am not sure about the large birds, these ones stood about 5 meters (over 15’) high but perhaps they were that frightfully large then.

Pre-historic dinosaurs at Borrego Springs, CA
Ricardo Breceda prefers to create the Jurassic Park era of dinosaurs and all animals that were part of that time but the display also has other genre of sculptures.  His artwork is made from scrap reinforcement bars, wire and metal, talent and a lot of hard work, I am sure.  The details on these massive pieces are pretty impressive to see.

Elephants as they used to roam the desert in Borrego Springs, CA

We were only able to stay long enough to see part of the artwork of the desert but we will return.  Now we know that we would want more time to make this trip again.  For a family day, one could take a picnic along to make a day of it, be sure you have time to see it all. I think there are lots of kids that would love to see the pre-historic animals and birds, they are amazing.

To find Borrego Springs, follow I-10 east from Palm Springs and turn south on Hwy 86, pass the Salton Sea until you reach Hwy S22 that takes you west, (passing through some incredible Badlands) for about 30 miles, until you reach town.  Borrego Springs, CA has much to offer in spite of its small size.  Check here to see what else is there.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

San Xavier Mission del Bac ~ Tucson, Arizona

We love rv’ing to places that have treasures that we wouldn’t otherwise see. Tucson, AZ offers some of those and we enjoyed visiting them during our stay there. The San Xavier Mission del Bac (pronounced “hauv-e- air”) is just one of those treasures. It is referred to as the White Dove of the Desert and is the spirit of Spanish Mission history. Bac is ‘where a stream emerges’ which is no longer at this location in the Sonoran Desert but was there when the mission began.
San Xavier Mission del Bac, Tucson, AZ
The Mission is one of eight missions established in Arizona between the years 1687–1720 and is located 16 km (10 mi) south of Tucson.  It remains in remarkable condition and is considered the most remarkable relic north of Mexico.

Architecture details on San Xavier Mission, AZ
An earthquake in 1887 damaged the church and there have been several years of interior restorations done in the meantime.  Today’s mission was built 1783-1797 of stone and brick and the mortar used in that day has retained the consistency of cement to this day, but sadly the process is now lost. 

Church services in San Xavier Mission, AZ
The mission is open daily and has many visitors come to see this National Historic Landmark (1960).  A winter mass schedule is posted for those that wish to attend church. There was a service ongoing during our visit with a large crowd that overflowed outside the beautiful doors, the interior of the church is incredible. 

Meeting room in San Xavier Mission, AZ
The original Franciscan planners of San Xavier may have dreamed of making this mission the center of a larger system but the dream never materialized as the remote San Xavier Mission was manned by only one or two friars.  The room shown here was reserved for practices such as reading and discussions, high level meetings and elections but would normally only be found in the large missions.

Monument in San Xavier Mission patio
In 1989 an exterior preservation was begun to remove the 1980 renovation coat of cement plaster.  They repair the historic brick beneath then re-finish the exterior surface with traditional lime plaster. Although there didn’t seem to be anything in progress during our visit, there is a difference in the finish between the two towers so we expect the renovations to continue.

San Xavier Mission patio, Tucson, AZ
The mission buildings are gathered next to the church with a monumental entrance consisting of seven arches surrounding the patio.  A school has been maintained by the clergy of the parish for the past 35 years.  The school is for the benefit of the Papago children, (now called Tohono O’odham) whose ancestors protected the abandoned mission from destruction by the Apaches.

White Dove of the Desert, Tucson, AZ

One of the towers remains unfinished but there is no reason given, although there are myths about it. An early myth suggests that taxation laws exempted buildings under construction so they chose to leave it unfinished. Another legend is that the second tower is being left unfinished until the “Excellent Builder” comes to direct its completion.

We visited other missions while in San Antonio last year, click here if you wish to learn about those missions and click here to learn about the Mission of the Alamo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pinnacle Peak ~ Reata Pass ~ Arizona

We love rv’ing but I will admit that it is the fair-weather part of rv’ing that we prefer.  This means that for the winter months, the best rv’ing is farther south than our homeland in Canada
This years rv’ing journey took us to Arizona and we made a stop at Pinnacle Peak, just north of Mesa in the Phoenix area.

Pinnacle Peak Patio, Phoenix, AZ
Pinnacle Peak was a general store and rest stop for travelers when it opened in 1957.  The owner then decided to serve dinners on the weekend in order to boost his business and it turned out to be a great success.  This is about 25 miles from Mesa and I have a map available at the bottom of the page.

History of Pinnacle Peak Patio, AZ
It has become a great attraction in the area with a gift shop and can sit up to 2000 people in the Pinnacle Peak Patio.  We visited there many years ago but it was after dark and it felt like we drove into blackness forever.  Now there are many homes to light up the area, it has seen tremendous growth since our last visit.

Ties decorate Pinnacle Peak Patio
Pinnacle Peak Patio was intended to be a casual restaurant that would mean that no neckties were to be worn.  When one of the first dinner guests refused to take off his tie, the owner proceeded to cut it off and from there the tradition began.  The Pinnacle Peak Patio is now filled with neckties and the cards of their owners and over the past 54 years, they have cut over a million ties from their customers.

Pinnacle Peak Park, Arizona
Pinnacle Peak Park was established to preserve the history of Pinnacle Peak as a Desert Discovery Center.  The Scottsdale City Council approved 185 acres and the grand opening was in April 2002 for the office and Trailhead area and the interpretive tours began in November 2002.  To learn more, click here.

Water tank at Reata Pass, Arizona
Crossing the McDowell Mountains during the Arizona Territory days was a grueling trip for both the stagecoach passengers and the horses.  Reata Pass was the stop where they were treated to a meal and the horses were watered.  The original station was built in 1882 and portions of that still exists across the road from the water tank, which makes Reata Pass the most authentic “cowboy” restaurant in the area. 

Reata Pass, AZ Jailhouse
The old jailhouse sits across the road from the original stagecoach station in Reata Pass and is the original.  It was also used elsewhere in the 1880’s to hold Indian prisoners.

Pinnacle Peak, Arizona

We followed Loop 101 N. to exit 36 and followed the directions in this map. Much of the Phoenix area is fairly flat with beautiful mountain formations in the distance. We were surprised at the elevation of the Pinnacle Peak area before arriving at the Park. Click here to see the map to the Pinnacle Peak Patio and Park as well as Reata Pass, which is nearby.
We've made other visits to Arizona and I shall be sharing more of those visits with you so stay tuned.


Related Posts with Thumbnails