Saturday, March 26, 2011

More relaxing out near the Anza Borrego Desert

When I left off from my previous post, I had just recouped from a minor mishap but had no idea where I would find an rv park to settle in for some tourist/sightseeing in the greater San Diego area.  Before actually heading down to that general area, I had done some research on rv parks that I felt fit the parameters of my criteria.  I found only two or three that met the site fee limit I have. The one I had pulled into the night before was rejected after I could not get onto the site.  Of the other two, one was located deep within a valley with impossible access roads for the size of my rig and the other had no site availability at that time. As I left Sonrise RV Repair, I knew I had two choices -- head back up to the Chino / Riverside area where I had been moving between two regional parks every two weeks (14 day limit stay) for the previous two months or head out toward the Anza Borrgo Desert area.  

View along the road to Shelter Valley
Fortunately for me, when I placed a call to the Stagecoach Trails RV Park in Julian (actually it’s in the little unincorporated town of Shelter Valley), they had a site available for me. I asked for some guidance from Mike, the current manager at this park, regarding which route to take - explaining that I had pulled into a turn off area along I 15 just south of Temecula. Originally, I thought maybe I should double back to take the 78 which has a section known as the Banner Grade.  I told him my concerns about that section of the road and he told me I was right to not drive up that  road hauling my 5th wheel.  In essence he said I should definitely avoid going up that way as it’s narrow, steep and curvy.  He directed me to the 79.  Interestingly, as I drove out of Temecula on the 79 there were a couple of signs warning about tractor trailers/rvs over a certain length (I think it’s 40’ from the kingpin?) not being recommended on that road!! After the two days I had just experienced, I felt a little smidgin of trepidation but Mike had assured me that truckers and rv’ers use the 79 all the time. I was further reassured when, after pulling into a turn off section along this road to grab a bite to eat, etc., I saw a couple of tractor trailers coming down from the opposite direction. It was a longer route (mileage and drive time) to take out to the rv park but, it was the definitely the easier approach.

Corral area at Stagecoach
Stagecoach RV Park is a pretty good sized park set on a very slight grade with nice, wide access roads and good sized sites. The sites themselves are gravel/dirt and most of them have trees, though they were barely budding for the spring season while I was there. This park has minimal lighting at night and which makes it a great spot for stargazing!! It’s a an especially great park if you’re a horseman (or woman). There are several corrals for horses and a large ring area where I saw a couple exercising each of their horses before they climbed up on them and rode off into the hills.

I spent a very quiet 2½ weeks out there!!  Literally, it was exceptionally quiet – no cell service at the park, no tv signal on my lame converter box receiver, not even a decent radio station!! I could use the park’s wi-fi network but it was agonizingly slow.  Also, and on a few occasions, I was blocked from accessing websites

Imposing storm clouds close in on Shelter Valley
that I frequently use by software that they had loaded into their network – ex. I couldn’t get NPR on the radio so I tried accessing it on my laptop – nope!! Thankfully, I have subscribed to a podcast service that automatically monitors specific segments on NPR that I like to listen to - ex. ‘This American Life’, ‘Fresh Air’, ‘Wait, wait. . . don’t tell me’so I was able to listen to the ones that I had already downloaded.  Then, too, I had loaded all my cds and also downloaded other music onto my laptop so I had something to listen to when I was just hanging around for the day/evening. I’d say the little town/village is appropriately named Shelter Valley. It is surrounded by hills/mountain ranges. I don’t think there was one little opening for any tv/radio/cell phone signals to squeak through. If you don’t have a satellite dish out there, you’re outta luck!!

Approaching Borrego Springs

When I first arrived at this rv park, I just booked 4 or 5 nights. The plan was to drive over to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park and check out the state rv park there – hoping that the website information was not correct and that there actually was a few days available for me to have a site. No luck there. It was just about totally booked for the timeframe that  
I could consider. They only had scattered one nighters available  for the dates I asked about.

After taking the walking path from the Visitor Center to the campground, I doubled back and spent time on the pathways surrounding the center, where a limited few desert flowers were blooming and there was a nice display of labeled cactus. Then I went inside the Center to look at the informative displays there, and to watch the 20 minute movie about the four seasons in the desert.  Once I left the state park, I drove back to the little 'downtown' section of Borrego Springs, passing a few private rv parks along the way. I decided that if I couldn’t set up right in the state park, I would just stay at the park I was already set up in as it would serve me just as well as any of the parks in the town – especially since I was able to use my Passport America for the entire stay at Stagecoach! I did do as Al (of The Bayfield Bunch) suggested and stopped by Jilberto’s for a bite to eat. I didn’t have a burger though -- I was hankering a chimichanga.

I arrived out here in Shelter Valley on Wednesday, the 23rd of February. On Friday, while down at the office/store, I was talking with the gal working the desk/counter and someone mentioned that they were calling for snow that night and Saturday. The gal at the counter said, assuredly ‘. . oh we don't get snow out this way'!! That night, I was reading and listening to a lovely classical music piece on one of the few stations that I found I could access. I kept hearing this odd noise that didn’t seem to belong to the music. I finally got up and walked around the inside of the rig, stopping and listening here and there. When I stopped under one of the vent openings, I suddenly recognized the sound – frozen rain on the roof. I turned on the outside lights and stuck my head out the door. The mixture was turning to large snowflakes and I just stood there dumbfounded. It was around 9:00 pm. My mind was thinking … if this keeps up all night, there’s going to be a lot of this white stuff on the ground tomorrow morning – yikes!! I was awake early that next morning and, of course, the first thing I did at daybreak was raise the shade to see how much was accumulated. A little more than a dusting is all that accumulate -- I was so thankful for that!

On another day, I drove over the Banner Grade  to have a look at it and to reach the town of Ramona, the closest town, to re-stock some grocery items. I thought I might find a Starbucks there and use their wi-fi connection for an hour or so. The only Starbucks was in the supermarket and they didn’t offer wi-fi access in their section. I did stop at the Blockbuster there - thinking I’d get a few videos but, the thought of driving 45 – 50 minutes to return them made no sense to me. The Banner Grade section of the 78 sure is intimidating to drive. It was a gray/gloomy day weather-wise the day I

Living along the Banner Grade outside Julian CA
 drove it and it gave me the feeling of being closed in as I drove through it. I had hoped to drive back over it on a sunny day but never did get back to do that. The setting and scenery was impressive – I couldn’t believe that folks actually built houses and live in the hills and valleys along this section.

Though there was no cell servce within the rv park, a short drive (about 4 miles) up the road there was a perfectly good signal and a pull out spot.  I found myself making that drive at least every other day; though often I would make calls while I was out 'n about sightseeing.  In another life, when I was working as a fee appraiser I would often travel into towns/cities that I wasn't familiar with.  I think that's when I became an avid street sign reader and have taken to
grabbing a photo of ones that I find amusing or unusual. On the drive up and back from the cell phone pull off area, I chuckled when I saw the street sign to the right.  I was amazed at the length of the name of the road that the Stagecoach RV Park is located on.  I was even more amazed when I saw that the entire name actually fit on the street sign (photo on the left ).   

Just as the off the grid location was beginning to get to me, I got some good news:  both of my daughters were coming out for a visit!!   More about that in another post.   


1 comment:

Judy and Emma said...

I guess I've become too attached to my laptop and the internet so forgo using them for two and a half weeks. :)