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October 20, 2017

Burk’s Bench - Borrego Springs

With Nightfall and Borrego Days falling on the same weekend as the Orionid Meteor Shower, there was no need to pick a single event when we could do them all!

I have the The Springs at Borrego Newsletter via email and right on the front page is Burk’s Bench.  The Bench is located between Font’s and Inspiration Washes.  The approach from the Inspiration Wash is much longer but also a lot easier.  Having never tried an approach from Font’s Wash before and with the crowds expected this weekend all looking for a new experience, we decide to go early the next morning.
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Photo from San Diego Reader

For an overnight we often use the Peg Leg Smith open camping area.  It certainly does not offer as much room as what remains available at Clark Dry Lake, but it’s just fine for us.  At first light we are ready to head out following the directions from the newsletter and the Reader.
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We found the small wash a 1.2 miles from S-22 and started up.
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This wash quickly peters out and we seek higher ground to get an idea of where we are.  The correct one was the one just before mile 1.2 on our odometer.
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With a bit of zoom we see the destination a bit to north west of where we are.
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As the newsletter mentions the approach is indeed steep.  Be sure to sign the guest book found under the bench if you make this hike.
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And are the views as good as those at Font’s Point?  Be the judge yourself.
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We decide to take the easy way down into Inspiration Wash and then bushwhack back to the Jeep making a loop rather than an out-n-back.
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The entrance to use from Inspiration Wash is fairly easy to find.  And at this point we are nearly back to S22.  It was too easy to just walk back to the road and then up Font’s Wash.  More fun and with a bit of a challenge to use a bit of dead reckoning.
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No worries we made it and deserve a fun lunch.  Kesling’s Kitchen has been getting some good reviews so we wanted to give it a try.  They have advertised a Roadrunner and Cactus Pizza. “Breast of roadrunner, nopales cactus, ranchera sauce, habanero jack cheese, crema, micro cilantro.
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Looks just like the advertisement, and George – this pizza does bring the heat!  The habanero jack is an awesome touch ... OK so it's really chicken breast, still a very different and tasty pizza.

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Nightfall is biggest Star Party in Borrego, it starts today but it will have its own post.

October 15, 2017

Tecate – Urban hiking Tecate Mexico

As I’ve mentioned before an FMM (Forma Migratoria MĂșltiple) is required for multiple entrance into Mexico.  The form is now available in English online HERE.  It’s a pain to have the form stamped in Mexicali as there is very limited parking, we’ll be going through Mexicali for the Shrimp Fest later this month.  We were prepared renew in Tijuana when we went to see the dentist a week ago, but the line was long and we still had a few days left on our current FMM so we put it off.

So for today it’s off to Tecate and I have a hike in the back of my itty-bitty mind that might be interesting.
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There is plentiful parking on the US side of the border for $5 most places.  We picked one at random and walked across the border.  Most all lots are dirt parking, but have an onsite attendant.  It’s a short walk to the border crossing from any of the spots.
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Once through the turnstile we’ll be in Mexico, if you can see the arms that hang down on the turnstile there is no going back once going through it locks!  The Mexican flag marks the customs office, immigration and bank – if fees are to be paid.  I’ve already filled out the forms and paid online.  As you can see everything is right there.  Inside the aduana (customs) office is the immigration office – EZ-PZ ….
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Oh did I mention Tecate is the gateway to ‘Wine Country’?  The Guadalupe Valley produces some truly great wines, Monte Xanic is my personal favorite.
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Tecate is also the best crossing to access the Guadalupe Canyon hot springs or the cave paintings of Vellecitos (little valleys).

But there is wine tasting at our destination.  Only they are not yet open and offer only the local Tecate wines.  Still worth a visit, next time!
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Our walking destination is the Parque Miguel Hidalgo, yup the guy famous for the Cry of Dolores, spawning the Mexican Revolution.  I thought the pigeon on his head was part of the statue until it finally moved when I went to take the picture.  The center piece of the park is a beautiful fountain at the entrance.
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There is also ample seating for a game of chess/checkers or just a cup of coffee.
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Along the outside we found Bar Diana – the oldest bar in Tecate.  Although we were too early to enjoy a lunch I’m sure it would have been Lolos if we had been hungry.  Their offerings looked great.
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Across the street is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. 
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Some very long time ago I took the kids down for some horse back riding and turtle soup.  Now, the endangered turtle is no longer  soup ingredient.  It’s now made with manta ray.  Is that a good thing?
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Our walk took us to El Mejor Pan de Tecate (The Best Bread in Tecate).  And oh-my it was indeed!  Even Blackberry muffins!
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There along CA-94 are six wineries, we pass 4 of them between San Diego and Tecate.  This trip we stopped at Dulzura Winery and Vineyard.  They have a century old heritage here.  We left with a 2014 oak aged Chardonnay a very decent white.  I really liked the CabFranc, until I saw it was $40 for a single-serving bottle.
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Note the cement column in the second photo taken from the Dulzura Vineyard observation deck.  It is made form Jumal cement, among the hardest cement mix ever, and fits in with the hike we have prepared for. 
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And today’s hike was to be too the Jamul Cement Works on what is now Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve.  On the cover of Reserve's home page (follow previous link) is a photo of the old abandoned Jamul Kiln and cement works.  Last year folks were able to find their way up from Pio Pico, and that was my intent.  But the reserve is currently closed and a Sheriff was at the trail head handing out parking and trespassing tickets … GRR!
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But my campechana, bought for breakfast tomorrow morning, was awesome ... with a glass of wine!  Smile … now what’s for breakfast ???