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Today’s trip went as planned.

Next week I’ll do a quick review of the itinerary for March to see how much time we need to do the circuit next time. I’ll explain any bits I have left out and why. I’ll also do a financial analysis of what we spent on fuel, accommodation & food, with an indication where the hotel was a bad deal and if there are alternatives.

I have been thinking about one option towards the end of the trip. This would see us spent a night on the way back north near Ensenada. The next day, an early start, then down MEX 3, do the Feros around Valle de Trinidad, then at the junction with M5 go north, missing out a 110 km drive and accommodation in San Felipe. We could spend the night outside Mexicali (capital letters DUMP) and queue to cross the border early or cross the border the previous evening and spend the night just outside El Centro, on Route 86 where I spotted a few small motels. The next day we could drive through the Anza Borrega Desert State Park. Today we did not really have as much time as I had wanted as we took a time-consuming wrong turn on Route 86, taking us back to I8.

At first, Anzo Borrago looked unimpressive, but it is said to be the area where the Sonoran and Mojave Desert overlap. We took a turn off the main road and almost immediately spotted some Feros – F. cylandraceus but with huge spines, in bud and after a thorough search, a plot with three or four plants in flower (between Julian and the Borrago Valley’ in Pilbeam’s book). It was accompanied by the three Opuntia that we had also seen with these Fero’s around Vd Trinidad, but we failed to find any of the other Sonoran cacti. We spent too long searching for plants in flower – went back to the main road and almost immediately found much better stands of it. While getting back in the car after this second stop, I spotted some different golden spines amongst the Chollas and E. engelmannii was added to today’s list. Back out of the car to check the low hill for more Echinocerei and I tripped over a Mam. (these are a real pain to ID as environmental conditions can change their appearance while in other places two consistently different Mams will occur together. My solution is to take as many pictures of the extreme different plants and anything in between and pay a visit to Uncle John (Pilbeam) for an opinion or two.

Then, on the way back to the car, there was O. basilaris – the link with the Mojave Desert! There was also an Agave, A. desertii.

As a result it was a bit of a rush and it would be good to revisit this place. Despite the delays we managed to get back to San Diego before sunset and found our first night’s Motel 6 very easily. We’ll be here tonight and tomorrow night before Alain leaves at 5:45 Saturday morning.

The drive from the Park is very interesting from scenery changing from bare hills, like the Atacama, to forested hills, like the run up to the Swiss passes. Then the clocks went back 50 years as we entered the village of Julian with real old style houses, just like the Waltons. No time for stops or pictures this time.

This road hits I5 and I 15 north of San Diego, at Vista, where C&Js are, so one option would be to find digs around there. Mark Fryer used to work at C&Js and is taking me around there next week, so I’ll check out options.

I found us a reasonable Chinese restaurant near the Motel – impressive interior design, nothing too special about the food, but then Anton, Angie & I get spoiled in Southampton every 1 st Tuesday of the month (when I’m around).

So, now it’s down to sorting pictures, Alain repacking and seeing if Sea World is an option before taking the car back.

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