Desert Dreaming in Anza-Borrego State Park
When I was in my late twenties, in the prime of my fabulous single life, I lived with my grandmother. Oddly, it could not have been a better match. I would get all gussied up to head out with my girlfriends and she would size up my questionable outfit and say, simply, “Flirt with the boys.” (Whether she was merely a sweet, wise woman, or just desperate to marry me off, I’ll never know).
Soon enough, my fun-loving grandmother became one of my favorite girlfriends, herself. We would have drinks on the patio together, go out for nice dinners, enjoy season tickets to local theater, and have our morning coffee watching the news shows before I headed out to work each day. It’s one of the most cherished chapters of my life, as I have fondly described before.
One of our favorite things to do together was travel. We visited family in England, Arizona, and my grandma’s hometown in Ohio where she showed me all the highlights of her youth, including where she lived with her own grandmother as a young working girl, herself. And, every year, we went to Anza-Borrego.
Borrego is our local desert and it is heaven. (Click here to see some of my favorite shots from our Borrego trips, ever. Perfect when you need an ahhhhh moment.)
A tiny strip of a town, Borrego Springs is nestled in the heart of several serene and beautiful mountain ranges.
There is just enough to do to keep you occupied but not so much that you feel the slightest bit guilty spending hours reading in a lounge chair, or sitting around playing games, and occasionally glancing up at the blue sky and dusty pink mountains, wondering if a borrego sheep is looking back at you from afar. Or, at least you wouldn’t feel guilty, if your toddlers let you have a minute to consider it. But, either way, the desert is a beautiful place to be.
My grandma took me to all the places she went with my grandfather: The Fox’s Den at the dazzling La Casa del Zorro Resort, Club Circle where my entire family rented a house one Easter when I was a child, and Font’s Point overlooking the badlands.
We even hiked a mile and a half up Palm Canyon. My grandma, in her 80’s then, just needed one slight push to make it over a big boulder, and we made it all the way up to the palm oasis. Before that trip, she said she would never get out to the desert again, so we called it “The I’ll Never Make It To Borrego Again Borrego Trip.” And, we’ve gone almost every year since.
One year, I thought to myself, I bet that new cute banker would like this place.
Then, my mom moved home from Europe. She joined us on our yearly trek east.
The following year, Cute Banker did, in fact, come with us. We all expected him to propose everlasting love and marriage that week, but he did NOT. (I am not bitter about it, although I will tell you the whole story, one day, whether you ask me to or not).
When my mom and I took him up Palm Canyon, we were treated to a family of borrego, mountain sheep, casually living their lives. A mom, a dad, and two babies stayed so long, we finally had to walk away ourselves. It was lucky and magical (and would have made a great engagement story…).
A couple years later, we were joined by my baby son. This fall, that baby was four years old, and my youngest son, now nearly three, was with us too. The way he says “Borrego SPRINGS!” will always echo in my ears.
A long-time tradition of my grandparents’ has expanded to include my entire family, one by one, as well as family friends, as they arrive on the scene.
My grandmother is 95 now, and I cherish every moment we spend looking at Indian Head (which, said 95-year old grandmother has just pointed out to me is a WOMAN, as evidenced by a couple of lower mountainous bumps, forever changing the way I look at it)…
…or breathing in the earthy creosote she introduced to me on our very first trip…
…thinking about all the memories we’ve made here…
…or just listening to the sounds our beloved desert, recalling the voices of the past, until the voices of the present pull us, dreamily, back.