354 Days of Sun is thrilled to have a photo essay contributed by Beth Yorn. Beth is a beautiful model (who I have represented for years), an amazing photographer and designer of Elizabeth Bell Jewelry. Beth and her husband, rockstar Pete Yorn, have a family home in Palm Desert and visit often. They regularly explore the splendor of the Coachella Valley and the surrounding desert areas. On this day…this happened….
Written by Beth Yorn
In my opinion the best way to explore the desert is in a big tough
pick up truck. Fortunately my friend, Rick Marino, has one. We have
gone on all sorts of fun adventures together. Just last month we took
two trips out the the Hauser Geode Beds and actually found the round
cauliflower rocks, cracked them open and saw sparkly crystals inside.
We loved it so much we went two weekends in a row!
This weekend we decided to go somewhere a little closer, Anza-Borrega
Desert State Park. It is only an hour and a half from Palm Desert. We drove down the 10 to Hwy 86S along the Salton Sea. We were supposed to take Hwy 78 into the park but missed our turn and just decided to turn
right at the next unmarked road and head across the desert. It was a
crazy dirt road with river washes and boulders everywhere. While
bouncing along in the truck I saw something glistening in the
distance. We stopped the car, and I got out and realized the ground
was littered with pearlescent seashells and fossilized coral. A few
BLM signs clued us in and told us that we were in an ancient sea basin
(the San Sebastian Natural Area). It was pretty darn cool to be in the
middle of the desert and see all of that fossilized sea life.
We continued on and eventually met up with Hwy 78. From there we went to Split Mountain (a gorgeous canyon that you drive through) and
Elephants Knees… while hiking around the area we found Oyster
Reef… it is exactly what is sounds like… piles and piles of
fossilized oyster shells.
At that point we were hungry so we headed into the town of Borrego
Springs, it is a relaxed small town with some cute little shops. There
is a great store operated by the Anza Borrego Desert History
Association. There are wonderful local books and maps that are very
helpful if you are exploring the park. We ate at Kendall’s Cafe. The food was simple, but the restaurant feels like it hasn’t changed since the 50’s. I really enjoyed it. After lunch we explored the Anza Borrego Visitors Center, a unique underground building with a detailed history of the valley. I thought it was pretty cool that the area was once a lush savannah where giant tortoises, mammoths, camels and zebras roamed.
Next up was Fonts Point. Important to note, along the way, and in the
entire valley you will see giant metal sculptures. There are actually
129 of them! They were created by Ricardo Breceda. We enjoyed looking
at the massive pieces of art all the way up to Fonts Point along County Hwy S22. We stopped at a great fruit stand on the way out of town that
had some of the sweetest oranges and grapefruits I have ever tasted.
We turned off the Hwy and headed to the Fonts Overlook, again, off
road vehicles only. It is 4 miles from the turn. It is one of the most
beautiful overlooks I have ever seen. The expanse and height is
dizzying to say the least.
On the way back home we swung by the old marina at the Salton Sea. It
really is sad what happened to that area. It is one of the largest
wetlands in California and so many birds and fish die each year
because of the high salt content. If you want to see a great
documentary watch “Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea.” We actually picked up a copy the Anza Borrego Desert History Association store mentioned above.
Finally, while heading back home to Palm Desert, we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants, El Mexicali Cafe (there are quite a few of them now in the area). We had our all time favorite Palm Desert dish, hot
peppers stuffed with shrimp served with mayonnaise and soy sauce. It
sounds crazy but it is awesome! A great end to a great day. I look
forward to going back to the park soon to hopefully to see some of the
big horn sheep and enjoy the high wildflower season.