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February 12, 2018

Carnaval - Borrego Springs and Torotes

Normally we play Euchre on the 2nd Saturday of the month.  But this month I’m a single as Fran is hosting her sister’s birthday party with the gal-pals … I’m not wanted.  And I found out Thursday a single is not needed at Euchre.

What to do … There’s the Holtville Carrot Festival; the Ocotillo Wells Star Party; and the Borrego Springs Carnaval at the Mall.  With the family dinner at Manderin House in La Jolla on Friday, I knew it would not be an early start on Saturday.  Which set Carnaval and the Star Party as the best options.

Our friends Doug and Marilyn were also available for the trip.  Arriving on a Saturday there were not a lot of sites left on Main Street, but M12 was just fine with a bit of privacy and a palapa too!

I have to admit I did not expect much from the Carnaval activities, and I was not disappointed.  It was pretty hokey, but in a fun way.  The music of Abba filled the Mall – Abba at Carnaval?

While waiting for the parade the 3 of us walked the mall.  A nice slab of sea shell fossils was available, which polished up nicely.

After a few minutes the parade begins!

Yup that was the parade; and the parade replay as they returned back through the mall.
Face painting is fun for the kids, no this was not karaoke but the promised live entertainment. 


No pictures of the star party.  Ocotillo Wells has an 11” Celestron celestial telescope and a solar scope.  Logan is the new park astronomer (amateur), and a welcome addition.  He maned the solar scope all afternoon and then the big scope for the star party.  Few folks come to Ocotillo Wells for the star parties, hence few show up, kinda nice.  The that were there when we arrived left early and the three of us had an 11” telescope, computer, videos, big screen, Logan and his assistant as our private guides to the universe.

Logan showed us the typical highlights - Orion’s Nebula, Uranus, M41, Crab Nebula, Double Cluster, Andromeda, and more were all viewed and discussed.  And the both Chinese space station and the ISS made cameo appearances.

After seeing the beautiful polished fossils in the mall  and decided to visit Shell Reef in the morning.  These fossil beds are quite amazing, although the clam and oyster shells are small compared to those common today, they far outnumber them.

The shells are everywhere cemented to rocks of all sizes.  To give perspective Marilyn is taking a rest stop in a sea of fossil shells.

I found what appears to be a pumpkin, at least part of one.  We’ll not be going to the Pumpkin Patch so the mystery will remain.

Doug and Marilyn had to depart Sunday afternoon, which left me a bit of free time.  Not yet ready to leave I decided to visit the Elephant Trees.

The trailhead is a mile off Split Mountain Road.  I’d think any high-clearance vehicle (or rental) could make it to within 50’ of the trail head and there is plenty of parking there.


Like the approach the trail starts out wide and sandy and also turns to a rocky path.

The trail has numbered posts, but there was not a trail guide. Going up the wash the ocotillo are starting to bloom and the barrel cactus is saturated.  This is likely from the rains they had last September.

However outside the wash this young Elephant Tree is not doing so well, and another ocotillo has fallen victim to the draught.

Trail marker 9 is where to spend some time, it’s a magnificent example of the Elephant Tree.  The Spanish call them Torote (tortured and twisted).  The Torote Bowl at the south end of the park also has a few excellent trees.

Water is stored in the base of the trunk, giving it the appearance of an elephant’s foot.

On the return side of the loop I notice a barrel cactus and ocotillo that will not likely survive the summer.

The last numbered stop appears to be a creosote bush that has not survived, although the mistletoe parasite continues to hang on.

Ocotillo Wells is not for everybody, it's an off-road paradise on the weekend.  But Sunday evening through Friday morning it offers a nice place to view the stars.  Back-in-the-day the entire park was open for exploration on a powered vehicle – now only street-legal are allowed to access most of the park, and the ‘green sticker’ off-roaders are restricted.  And this is one of the areas where they can let loose.

But tonight I am the only one camping on Main Street, last night it was pretty full.  After the sunset the wind again came up.  Rufus was again rocking and rolling all night.  Shortly after sunrise the wind let up a bit.

On the ride home I was treated to a nice rainbow, it was raining in the mountains near Julian.   And the rainbow was on my side of the hills ahead!   Pot of Gold here I come!

By the time I reached San Felipe on S-2 it was a heavy mist, and it was raining by the time I reached Dudley’s.


  1. Sure sounds like you had a nice weekend getaway. And Borrego springs is a great place to do it, so close for you too.
    Thanks for all the great photos.

  2. Thanks George! I often take BS and what it offers of granted as it is so close, I'd like to go out more often.

  3. I haven't been to AB in too long. Nice to have a private night sky guide.

  4. AB is a huge park with all it offers a private night sky tour is pretty awesome.

  5. Sorry I missed the Carnival and you that day. I lost my Verizon booster and was looking everywhere for it. Cannot believe I can lose something in a 30 foot by 8 foot space but I did. Never found it.

    I've been to the elephant trees and was sad to see the drought has done it's damage.

    Hopefully I'll be back to California next year.

  6. Trust me Doug, you did not miss much at Carnaval! Since you and Yuma do not mind a bit of rock hopping, the Torote Bowl is located in the south end of the park... Just an observation, not a recommendation.


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