Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A mountain drive today....

Our Location: Just east of Borrego Springs, California

(warning this is a long post with lots of pictures)

An excellent night for sleeping once the coyotes stopped their serenading although it didn't stop me from sleeping. I just love to listen to them yipping and yapping. These ones were indeed very vocal and I'm guessing it was competition  or karaoke night as they held some of those howls for a long time. Sounded like a bunch of youngsters out on the town on their own for the first time.

The moon just before sunrise started this morning...

Awake about 5 am this  morning, perfect time for me these days. I was out the door right around 6 am to catch the moon and the sunrise. The moon was just kind of hanging around about mid way in the sky and I managed to catch a few pictures of it through the tree. The sun had a while to go before it would rise though. With no cloud cover of any kind, the sun rise was pretty much a straight up pop and bang with no oh's and ah's on the side. Still pretty though. 

The first hint of sunrise..... ...

Back inside we had a few chores to accomplish this morning before we did anything else. We both got ourselves cleaned up and presentable once again, and of course we had some dishes to wash. So those things were first on the agenda today. After that I had my hot cuppa, Riley opted out of hers this morning. I also read blogs, commented and replied to comments on my own blog. That put the time to about 10 am. Time to get up and moving. 

Over in the southeast the sky turns hues of pink....

Today we had already decided to head up the mountain to Julian and visit the pie company since so many told us we should make the trip. We had a few items to drop in the trash bins, and some cans to dump at the Legion's recycle bin on the way into town. We used the trash cans at Christmas Circle as there weren't many folks around at the time. We had a couple of bags to dispose of and we don't like to keep them around too long as HRH Miss Kitty's litter is also in the bags. 

Back in the east the sky is getting more colour....

So after that little chore we of course headed out along Palm Canyon Drive to Montezuma Road. The drive was extraordinary, sights jaw dropping and the experience awesome. The tight twists and turns only added to the over all excitement of the views. For a road that literally hugs the curves of the mountains, twisting and turning, diving and dipping, climbing, climbing and climbing some more, it leaves one with a sense of heightened awareness as to how high you actually are getting. The views were inspiring with the valley floor far below, the washes and gullies appearing to be carved out by a giant hand with no plan in mind, just to carve the path of least resistance perhaps.

And eventually this was the end result....

The two lane hard top is narrow at best, with a few turnouts for slower vehicles to pull over and allow others to pass but for the most part it's truly a hanging by your fingertips experience. The turnouts are small and really not long enough to actually allow anything of any size to use them. The hair pin turns offer surprises at each arc in the road, never knowing if the fellow coming is going to actually be on his own side, or will he be partially on my side as he's afraid to hug the outer edges just in case. A motor cycle riders dream road of course. One can see exactly where the road ahead leads as you look out your SIDE window and to say it's cut into the side of the mountain is to tell the truth. No guardrails to speak of, only low, not even hub high stone/cemented walls here and there to stop you from dropping a wheel over the edge. A few high curb stones as well but the guardrails if any are all very low and will do nothing to assist you in staying on the road unless you're perhaps a bicycle. They might keep the bicycle from going over but not the rider. In Navy speak I think they'd be referred to as Knee Knockers.

See that light coloured line in the mountain side, we took that road today....

We did see a few bicycler's on the route both up and down. Up bound were pedaling very fast, their legs pumping quickly but the speed was not there as they were in the easiest gear for hill climbing, pedaling like mad but not getting far. The down bound were of course coasting and I'm hoping they didn't get going too fast as I'm pretty certain the brakes would heat up really quickly and that wouldn't be a good thing. We met the odd motor home as they were coming down, they have a lot more nerve than I have, as I wouldn't take the Dogsled and Igloo on that road unless absolutely necessary with NO other options, and even then, I think I'd turn around and just miss what's up there.

Looking back and down at Borrego Springs from that road you just noticed in the above picture....

We stopped at various places to snap a few pictures and noticed a couple of semi's heading up and one heading down as well. One up bound and one down bound were just flat beds and making pretty good time but the second one heading up was a hauling a covered box and moving right along too so either it was empty or very light cargo. We also met a cement truck as we were heading up, he was coming down. What a trip that must be in one of those trucks. Wow, he's brave. 

Not much space on that corner, almost no guardrails either, really narrow road....

The rock formations were extremely different from what we see down here in the valley as the further up you go the more individual boulder type rocks you see, they appear to be tossed around by the same landscape cutting giant having a fit as they seem to be randomly placed. The higher one goes the more green one finds. First in the trees, and shrubs that start dotting the landscape, then the colour begins to deepen and darken as one gets closer to the top. The small town of Ranchita looks like a forgotten nest of poorer homes and less fortunate people. Although living on the mountain top does not seem less fortunate to me as the vistas are amazing. The cattle are roaming on grass, sandy grass land but grass all the same. Not the lush green grass of the midwest but the sparse short grasses of the high desert.

Can you see the semi making his way up the road? Look behind him, see how it twists and turns....

Here the mountain top mesas and peaks seem to hem in the rolling valley floors on all sides. Trees, real trees with dark green leaves and dark rough barked trunks hang heavy with many branches and the leaves so dense you can't see through them. The trees become thicker and thicker the further south one heads along the mountain top. Soon the valleys are left behind and only the very dark thick green carpet of brush and trees are visible. They cover everything except the road and the steep sides where the earth has been chewed away to make the road. No longer does one see valleys but rolling mounds of green, some steep, some gentle with no breaks in the foliage except for a building or two. 

Almost at the the top, looking back the way we came.....

The road to San Ysabel is well cared for and wider than the other up and down bound roadways. It passes through various little clusters of buildings, no towns though. It is well signed, visitors are encouraged and welcomed here. We popped into the small town of San Ysabel to find the Julian Pie Company factory on the edge of a small quaint little village nestled in a flat spot along the road. Where old and not so old live in harmony and appreciation of each other. A market place, a restaurant, and a few other little spots offer something to entice the visitor to stop a while and rest, to spend money and take away things they don't need but thought too cute to pass over. 

Looking forward, that's Ranchita over there in the distance....

Unfortunately the pie company factory is closed for two days Feb 5 & 6 or some such dates, but it's closed anyway. We can see that there are contractors inside, ladders here and there, a few folks trying to get in but the 'begin smelling' handles won't budge and there are no smells to smell. We did check out the little market store next door finding only the ATM machine to catch our interest.

Notice the difference in hills and mountains in this picture? The middle row is green with foliage.....

Back in the Dogsled we head further south toward Julian in hopes of finding the pie company there. The road is good, the drive is easy, the views are much more like what we're used to with trees dotting the landscapes, fields, cows, rocks, these are very Ontario like scenes and yet not quite, but they give us a feeling of comfort, a feeling of home.

Sure is pretty up here on the top, isn't it? 

Julian is also a quaint little town with the welcome mat out for all visitors and there are many that come there. We found the pie company quite easily and it was very busy, folks ordering all kinds of food to be eaten outside on the patio, many having 1/2 a sandwich with soup and a piece of pie. The pies in the case looked so wonderful. Variety was the word of the day there. However I cannot eat an entire pie by myself and Riley doesn't like pie. I was tempted to have just a piece but realizing I haven't yet had anything to eat today the pie wouldn't be a good idea as it would put my sugar too high and I wouldn't like to be driving down the mountain side with that problem. Riley didn't feel comfortable there, too small, too many people, too busy. No problem we'll get something to drink and something to munch on but they had no cookies, or donuts (Riley would have settled for either one) due to the factory being closed and no baking happening there. We instead purchased a Round Apple Nut Loaf to bring home and try. Out the door, Riley tosses her Iced Tea as it is Iced Black Tea not the sweet tea she's used to drinking. I enjoyed sipping my black decaf coffee. 

I love the rolling hillside.....those dark dots are all trees....

We walked along main street catching a few pictures of this or that, just soaking up the atmosphere and the small old town feeling. We slipped into a store that sells nuts, candies, and etc. The nice lady let us sample some apple butter made with sugar and one made with apple juice. We both preferred the one with sugar. Riley added a bag of peanut brittle to the purchase order as well. 

Lots of cattle grazing in this area.....

Back outside along the other side of main street and into the Miner's Diner we headed. We found a seat by the window and enjoyed the views while having lunch. Riley chose a Buffalo Burger and I had a BBQ Chicken Sandwich. Both came with a side order of Miner's BBQ sauce for dipping. Riley's onion rings were pipping hot and my fries were coated with something and not as hot. The Raspberry Iced Tea as okay as well.  

We're approaching the all green foliage area soon...see it ahead? 

After lunch we headed back toward the Igloo. The trip down the mountain was similar but very different than the trip up the mountain. The road was the same, narrow, twisty, turny, no shoulder, no guardrails to speak of but the foliage and rock formations were very different. The foliage remained green and carpet like for a long ways down the mountain road. At times it reminded us of the deep south in the way the trees were so close to the roadway, and the branches hung over. The green was of course much darker and the edge of the roads were not deep ditches but severe long drops on one side and high walls on the other, but no large rock formations or boulders, not going this way. Instead there were smooth rock faces and more pebbly looking mountainsides. The lower we came the more the mountains began to resemble those we're more used to seeing, with cacti and less trees, more shrubs, bushes and of course sand. More desert like with long sweeping vistas of rolling gravelly bottom lands that beckon one to sink their vehicle in the soft unforgiving sand. Less of the mature green carpet but more of the weaker green of smaller plant life.

Unfortunately this San Ysabel location was closed.....

Soon we were on the upward curving road heading into Borrego Springs, once again the mountain road was skinny, no shoulders, high curbs, no guardrails to speak of, but the views had long sweeping lines of valleys and washes, gullies and flat lands. Truly majestic sights to see even from a lower elevation. The air once again much warmer, almost stifling the warm breeze couldn't seem to cool off making one long for the high plateaus and mesas we'd just left behind us. 

This location in Julian is very busy.....

From the high elevation of 4000 ft back down to the valley floor the rise and fall of the thermometer was just over 10 degrees from top to bottom. Low 80's F/ 26-28C of the desert floor compared to the low 70'sF/ 21-23C of the upper mountains areas. The contrast was quite noticeable. 

We are heading down the mountain side now....

Back home we stopped at the Igloo long enough to check on HRH Miss Kitty, do the potty break thing before we climbed back into the Dogsled and headed off to see if Doug & Yuma were around for a quick visit. We thought we'd take a chance. The bumpy road of Rock House Road yielded up some dust and bumps but no Doug or Yuma around. The view is amazing though, luck guys! We tucked a note in the door and came back home to rest for the remainder of the day. 

It's so green isn't it? 

A call from my dad about 4:30 pm or so had me hearing about -15C/5F weather back on the Island. However March is around the corner and they are hopeful for an early spring. I'm hopeful they have one too, that means it'll be nicer when we arrive back in early May. 

We are once again almost down to the valley floor...see the difference in vegetation?

Outside to catch the sunset, which wasn't much of an event, like the morning sunrise it was a pop, and that about sums it up. However it cooled off nicely as the sun was sinking, we both sat outside for a while enjoying the cooler night air and chatting about our upcoming move. Still undecided as to location yet. 

The mountains are also different here near the valley floor.....

So ends our day with the editing of pictures and the writing of this post for me at least. Riley is playing her game and enjoying the cool air. She is much more hot blooded than I am and while I have on my fleece sweater and short pants, she is in just a tank top and short pants. Oh to be young again. 

The desert growth on the left side.....see the different rocks again?

An excellent day, just as amazing as everyone told us it would be, thanks for the tips and advice about seeing the wonderful quaint little town of Julian, California. Perhaps another time I'll purchase a pie to take back to Canada with us but today we had no room in the freezer for such a thing. Next time we will go either earlier or later so it's not crowded and Riley will have less trouble with the crowds and we'll have lunch there. It would be so nice to do so. 

Yeap we' re heading over that way around those curves.....

Thanks for stopping by, glad to have you visit. I hope your day has been the perfect day for you, if not perfect, hopefully at least good. Feel free to drop a comment, I enjoy reading them. 

That's Borrego Springs way off in the distance....

Until next time... take care, be safe, 

Goodnight from Borrego Springs, California



  1. Glad that you look the drive to Julian a wonderful and interesting mountain drive. Looks like you went up and back the same way, we usually do a clockwise tour up 78 (very interesting) and then south on Montezuma Road, 2 completely different routes. Too bad the factory was not open, we usually just have a piece if pie for lunch because.

    1. It was a wonderful drive. No we up one way and back the other. We headed up Montezuma Road, reached the top near Ranchita, drove south along the mountain top through Julian to which ever road it was that takes you down. I don't recall the name or number right at this moment. Very different scenery going in that round trip. We took the road into the state park instead of going way out toward Ocotillo Wells. It was a great day.

      Take care, be safe,

  2. Beautiful pictures Deb..and great narrative of your day. That mountain drive description was awesome. We've never been but may have to visit Julian next year. Riley sounds a lot like my niece, she doesn't do well with crowds and small places either. Love the sunset picture!

    1. It was an awesome drive. The views were spectacular and well worth the effort. We would definitely do it again for certain. However I would be sure to go the same way as the drive would be much more stressful going the other direction (at least for me)as the Knee Knocker guardrail with the extreme drop is a full skinny lane over, and I was hugging the mountain. Going the reverse would put me on the outside and I wouldn't like that at all.

      Riley does not do well in tight spaces, loud noises, crowds, busy new places or a combination of any of these. I know to expect to walk in and back out of places if the conditions aren't just right for her. Although she is getting better the more we travel. In those types of place I don't have any expectations of staying long or even some times of just going inside.

      Take care, be safe,

  3. Interesting we both picked the same day to go to Julian. Your description of the road trip is much more descriptive than mine. Might have to copy and paste yours into my blog 😂

    It was nice to read the first time experience. Always more exciting, but every time is fun.

    Sorry I missed your visit. At least it wasn't crowded going mid afternoon.

    LAst year they had snow in places in Julian. What a difference a year makes.

  4. You are too kind. I just write what I see and hope one day I can recall what I've seen from what I describe here.

    It was awesome to see such things and I look forward to the next visit as I'm certain I will see things I missed this time as one can only take in so much at a time. The road travel was fantastic. I would love to be in the passengers seat with the camera on that drive. There were lots of things I would have taken pictures of that we didn't get.

    It was a chance pop in, it didn't work this time. Maybe next time.

    Glad we missed the snow, it's why I'm here, to get OUT of the snow.

    Take care, be safe,

  5. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Julian with all the winding roads and scenic views.
    Learning to enjoy Unsweetened drinks takes time but is healthier for Riley.
    Like you said "To be young and not feel the cold" Those were the days.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  6. We did enjoy our day and the trip was well worth it. The sights were amazing, the road was an adventure on it's own.

    We drink a great deal of water each day and enjoy a change of taste from time to time. The issue was the tea, iced black tea. Neither of us likes black tea be it iced or hot. We don't eat out often, preferring to prepare out meals at home for better quality control, so when we do go out we don't overly concern ourselves with what we consume. After all a treat is not a treat if one has to worry about it.

    Just to be young again works for me, without the aches and pains would be a wonderful thing.

    Take care, be safe,

  7. We never get tired of the coyotes howling. I often wonder what they are saying to each other. We took the road from north of San Diago to Borrego Springs through Julian with the Motorhome last year. There were a few tight turns but the view from the front seats was spectacular. Hope to do it again sometime. And the pie was delicious!!! You two seem to be having so much fun.

    1. I love listening to them, they are so off key and yet harmonic in some way.

      You are a brave soul Lorne. I couldn't imagine coming down there in a motor home. Some of those turns are pretty tight and with no room for error.

      Glad you liked the pie.

      We are having a great time but the heat is getting to us. I think it's time to move on soon.

      Take care, be safe