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We woke up to a grey day, lots of rain pouring down. Shall we proceed with today’s plan, a visit to the Anza Borrego Desert Park or look for some shopping outlets? Although yesterday’s visit to the Huntington Botanical Gardens had increased the number of cactus images on our hard drives, Angie was still to see her first US cactus in habitat, so Anza Borrego it was.

It was still raining but only a light drizzle as we arrived at Santa Ysabel where we stopped at the Julian Pie Company for a traditional Dutch Apple Pie with Cinnamon ice-cream – yum yum. We passed the 4,000 ft altitude marker, still in rain, but we then dropped quickly to 2,000 ft and we were in the dry. Remarkable! But obviously what ever had stopped the rain from following us is the reason why this area is a desert. There are occasional rains, causing flash floods that disappear again in hours, as we saw during the video in the visitors centre, but they are far and few between.

The sun had come out but the clouds over the hills all around us made an impressive addition to the scenery. We saw Ferocactus chrysacanthus, Mammillaria dioica, Echinocereus engelmannii and cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelowii and C. wolfii and Fouqueria splendens as well as millions of desert wildflowers.

So not only did Angie see her first US cacti in habitat, but as in the Chilean Atacama Desert, the beginning of my ‘Winter Break’, she again saw the desert in flower. Nice for our upcoming presentations in Europe.

We arrived safely in Carlsbad where we easily found the Motel 6 on Carlsbad Drive where I have stayed for at least one night per year since 2008. Nothing had changed much.

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