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Archive for March 26, 2008

Wednesday, 26 March 2008 – El Centro to Carlsbad, CA

We were ready to leave around 8:30 and decided to have breakfast on the way. We took I-5 East to Ocotillo, then S-2 north to Anza Borrego. Breakfast was in the local bar & restaurant. We ordered the usual 4 orange juices, 3 coffee and what ever Ian was having plus variations on how to prepare an egg, or, in Ian’s case, the originator of the egg (chicken sandwich).

We all pulled faces as we drank our orange juice, having got used to 4-5 freshly squeezed oranges in Mexico. ‘Don’t you like it?’ our waitress asked. ‘It’s different …..’ the British Citizens replied, diplomatically. ‘No’, said Eunice. ‘Neither do I’ said the waitress, ‘It’s thawed out frozen orange juice. Just give them back and I won’t charge you.’ Cliff had been having stomach problems and used the facilities to clear out last night’s dinner.

And so on to Anza Borrego; but first the impromptu formalities of a Border Police Checkpoint; not the smartest kids on the block, who thought that Ian’s passport had expired, while looking at the date issued. Still, spending all day in the sun among cacti didn’t seem such a bad job compared to office work in the UK, plus you got a gun to play with and a licence to kill! Oh well.

Anza Borrego produced everything that it had promised during my previous visits: several species of Cylindropuntia, Opuntia basilaris, Echinocereus engelmannii, Mammillaria dioica, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Fouqueria splendens and lots of field flowers this time, all in full bloom, in various scenic settings: on the flat with distant hills in the background and on the rocky hillsides themselves. These cacti have some of the showiest flowers in the plant family. I’m sure that I could fill a whole talk just on the Anza Borrega Desert State Park! We overdosed on photographing these wonderful sights, a bit like the last day of a Chile trip on the rocks of the Pacific shores at Pichidangui, surrounded by different species of Eriosyce in flower. We made it again to the visitor’s centre, watched a couple of programs in their cinema, more to be out of the heat (the outside temperature on the car’s thermometer reached 94 F, Ian’s thermometer reached 31 C), than because we were going to see things that we hadn’t seen already.

Coping with the desert heat adds a dimension of effort to the day’s proceedings so that we were all glad to see the familiar sight of the Motel 6 in Carslbad, where I had stayed several nights in late February / early March. We went through the checking in procedure for the pre-booked rooms, got the cards for the internet service and went to inspect the rooms. Oh, oh, just one king-size bed in each room. Now in a real emergency somewhere in Mexico, in the only hotel in town, we might have brought in our airbeds etc. but here we went straight back to reception. What had happened to the other beds? Sorry, that was how the booking came through. Never mind, can we swap rooms with ones with 2 queen / king size beds each?  No, sorry, we’re full up. Not for long, as we left them with two free rooms and after a reversal process of the checking in procedure, cancelling credit card payments etc we were on our way to the second Motel 6 in Carlsbad (they have 3). Here the rooms were inspected and found to be OK. Next item on the agenda: food. We risked our lives crossing a busy road where we had seen signs for The European Meat Company. Looked promising, but they were closed. On to a large intersection with lots of restaurant signs. We were greeted by Greek music. A quick look revealed entertainment provided by a belly dancer, but it all looked rather tatty, so we gave it a miss. On to the cross roads we waited patiently for the pedestrian light to turn green, only to start flashing red again when we were only half way across. Nothing too promising when we arrived there, so let’s cross again. Same story: red before we reached half way. We now spotted a promising looking restaurant ‘Islands’, promising Burgers and Drinks on signs with various letters missing. But it was on the other side of the road again, and so we made another crossing and got back to where we started, just behind Motel 6. All this looking for food is thirsty work, so as soon as the surfer babes (? – they didn’t live up to my expectations!) had sat us down with an ‘awesome!’ between every word they uttered, we ordered Margaritas and Burgers.

Anyway, a good time was had by all and the extra Tequila shot did the trick of filtering out the noise of Interstate 5 that runs about 100 m from our Motel window.

As a result, the Diary pages did not get finished and are therefore now being completed while I’m also chatting with Angie on Windows Messenger.

Better send them now, as breakfast calls.