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  1. #1

    Default Tucson to San Diego via Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

    Christmas Day - December 25
    Tucson to Borrego Springs, CA

    Left Tucson Christmas morning heading West. A short trip over to San Diego for a letterboxing gathering on Saturday. Took I-10 west to I-8 west to Yuma. Stopped to find a letterbox on the outskirts of town, then went into town to re-plant a box that had gone missing. The carving in the box commemorates the Yuma Prison.

    Yuma Prison Picnic Area

    Continued into California with a stop off Grey Wells Road to the Plank Road monument. The monument is 3 miles past SW past the BLM office at this exit. My aunt and uncle took a month long road trip out West in 1939 from Ohio with another couple. To her dying day, my aunt told us they had driven over a plank road in the desert. Not this road!

    Plank Road - W of Yuma

    Plank Road Monument

    Arrived at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at sunset, 4:42 PM. Quickly fixed dinner and then enjoyed a perfect evening in camp.

    Boxing Day - Thursday, December 26
    Borrego Springs, CA

    Ho-hum, another perfect day! Abundant sunshine, severely clear!

    View from campsite

    Stopped at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center to view the excellent displays. They also have a passport cancellation stamp for the Juan Buatista de Anza National Historic Trail. The park is along the 1,200 mile long historic trail between Mexico, through Southern Arizona and ends in San Francisco.

    Went into town for USPS postal cancellation and then a tasty Mexican lunch at Carmelita's Mexican Grill in Borrego Springs. We drove up and out on S22 through Ranchita to S2 to where the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) crosses the highway for a letterbox. This trail runs from the Mexican border on the southern end California up to the Canadian border at the northern end. It is a 2,650 mile hiking trail that we have had several acquaintances thru-hike over the years - an amazing feat (on your feet!). The spot we visited is known as Barrel Springs, an important water source along the trail.

    Barrel Springs

    PCT sign

    We continued W on S22 and SE on S2, then E on CA 78 back into the park. Passed Tamarisk Grove campground to a nature trail, Earth Narrows along CA 78. Nice 1/2 mile trail with great geology and a Letterbox. Back to camp for another delightful night, incredible stargazing. Both nights my husband counted 7 satellites crossing the sky, a record count.

    Narrows Earth Trail - 1/2 mi loop

    On our way back into camp before we reached Borrego Springs we passed this amazing outdoor sculpture park. Hard to describe, but the sculptures are on both sides of the road and a single dirt lane can be driven to view them up close.

    Galetta Meadows, LLC

    Horse Sculpture

    Campground Critter - Roadrunner

    Friday, December 27
    Borrego Springs, CA to San Diego, CS

    Reluctantly left ABDSP. Back up to Tamarisk Grove, then continued on CA 78 to Julian. Already crowded when we arrived at 11AM. Well-known for their apple pies. A penny smashing opportunity on Main Street, as well. As we left town traveling S on CA 79 the cars were pouring into town. Before picking up I-8 into San Diego we stopped in the town of Descanso for a postal cancellation. Small, ranching community with only a few businesses.

    Once in the San Diego area we drove to Bonita and set up camp at Sweetwater Summit campground, part of SD County Parks & Recreation, near CA 54 and CA125. Great location, up on a ridge looking west. Electric & water for $29, plus a large section for full hook ups. Drove down to the Chula Vista waterfront for a quick visit to Sweetwater Marsh NWR at the Living Coast Discovery Center. The Blue Goose passport stamp is kept at the admissions desk. We did not tour the facility, but it looks amazing and well worth several hours of your time, especially if touring with kids.

    Sea Turtles at The Living Coast Discovery Center

    From there we went a little further south to the Chula Vista Marina for a couple of Letterboxes. Only found one of two, but saw some amazing birds in the area.


    Sunset over the Pacific - from our campsite

    Saturday, December 28
    San Diego, CA

    We were in San Diego to attend a letterbox gathering. The meeting place was Balboa Park at the Pepper Grove Picnic area. A group of about 40 people gathered to share our letterboxing hobby. Several generations were brought together. The picture below shows a group of youngsters exchanging their personal stamps.

    Next generation of letterboxers

    Websites for Letterboxing

    I cannot begin to describe how crowded Balboa Park was on this Saturday. The Saturday between Christmas and New Years is obviously a busy time in San Diego, but the the crowds were overwhelming. We got there before noon and were able to get parking, many were not as lucky. Gorgeous weather and lots to see and do make Balboa Park a place to experience, plan to arrive early and consider using the trolley or tram to get around.

    Before heading back to camp we made another attempt to find the letterbox we missed at the Chula Vista Marina, plus another birdwatching and sunset opportunity. We were successful in finding the box and enjoying the view.

    Great Blue Heron

    Pacific Sunset #2

    Sunday, December 29
    San Diego to Tucson

    We headed home on a different route than I-8. A great drive along the southern border leaving San Diego on Telegraph Canyon Rd to Otay Lakes Road and then followed CA 94 over hill and through canyons back to I-8 at Jacumba. Great road trip highway! Made a quick detour at Ocotillo to do maintenance on one of my husband's letterboxes, just south of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park border. This is true Mojave Desert, not spectacular, but an environment I enjoy.

    Mojave Desert View

    We returned back across the Colorado River to Arizona. Glad to be back where the sun sets after 5 PM!

    Wildlife Sightings
    American Kestrel
    Feral Rock Dove
    Great-tailed grackle; male & female
    Northern Harrier
    House Finch
    Anna's Hummingbird
    Lesser Goldfinch
    Common Raven
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Great Egret
    Mourning dove
    Turkey Vulture
    Gull - several species
    White-crowned Sparrow
    White-winged Dove
    California Quail
    Hummingbird, possibly several species
    Greater Roadrunner
    Cooper's Hawk
    Canada Geese
    Northern Pintail
    American Wigeon
    American Coot
    Brown Pelican
    Great Blue Heron
    Black Phoebe
    Common Loon
    Acorn Woodpecker
    Cinnamon Teal

    Cottontail Rabbit

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Great report! Balboa Park is always crowded on Saturdays. If you were able to get a parking spot near Pepper Grove, you did WELL.

    Thanks for the info on the Plank Road. Hubby and I want to check that out on the way back from Phoenix sometime. We were just talking about that earlier today!

    I'll be doing a report soon on the Arizona Territorial Prison -- we just visited that today.


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  1. Anza Borrego
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    Last Post: 06-13-2005, 10:12 AM


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