The California Desert: Julian to the End of the World and Back - 1st March 2008

Continuing our drive around the desert of South-west California, we leave the cool misty mountain-town of Julian behind, and cross the mountains in to the Anza-Borrego State Park. As soon as the mountains are cleared, the skies clear and temperature notches up by 10°C. The roof of the Mustang convertible is duly lowered and we blast around the desert roads, heading up to Borrego Springs (for a picnic on possibly California's only roundabout), then up to the Henderson Canyon to see the desert in bloom. From there, it's through the Anza-Borrego badlands to the Salton Sea (for Nosher's second visit to the area). The Salton Sea is one of the strangest places in the world. If you ever want to see what happens to society after the destruction of humanity, then it gives a clue: what must have once been a thriving waterside community is now crumbling in to the ground, but here-and-there a few residents put on a brave face and tend their gardens. It's like the aftermath of some nuclear destruction, but without the nuclear winter and fall-out. The whole thing freaks us out a bit, so we soon head off back down to rejoin Route 78 back through the badlands and into the pretty town of Julian.

next album: Rosarito and Tijuana, Mexico - 2nd March 2008
previous album: San Diego 8: The beaches of Torrey Pines and Ramona, California, USA - 29th February 2008

Route 78 out of Julian, on the edge of Anza-Borrego State Park

Isobel ponders by the road-side

Iz hangs over the convertible

A couple of desert flowers

Isobel inspects some prickly-pear cacti

The car waits for us in a turn-out (lay-by)

Iz stands next to some fuzzy cactus

Iz waves her hands in the air, on the roadside on state road S3

Christmas Circle (the roundabout in Borrego Springs) is quite popular, and even has restrooms on it

We picnic on the roundabout

Some bikers on a Harley ride by the Wells Fargo bank

A roadside hut by Christmas Circle

Pretty flowers in the desert

We're lucky to arrive during the couple of weeks when the desert is in bloom

Carpets of flowers cover the canyon floor

More flowers

Completely random: in the middle of nowehere is a box marked 'telephone'. It wasn't ringing at the time.

The desert flowers prove popular as loads of other tourists are about

Off-road in Henderson Canyon

In the derelict town of Desert Shores, Salton Sea

Isobel roams around the post-apocalyptic town

Everywhere, buildings are falling apart

Salt-encrusted sticks in the Salton Sea

The blast-wave from the nuclear detonation has not left much behind

A derelict caravan

A stool sits alone, with no-one to sit on it

The remains of an airstream-like caravan

Beauty and the Barber - anachronistic sign in a wasteland

Telegraph poles lead the way out of town

Ironic graffiti

The bow of a speedboat lurches out of the ground

A sign hopes to tempt passers-by to the facilities

On Route 78 heading toward Ocotillo Wells (but looking the other way)

Ribbon highway, shimmering in the heat

Near Ocotillo Wells, we spot on of Nosher's favourite things - a derelict petrol station

The sign says 'Welcome to Burro Bend, California'

Writing in concrete - frozen in time since 1989 - displays a poignant hope

The inside of the derelict petrol station's shop

The exposed workings of a gas pump

The derelict Burro Bend gas station

Iz waits in the Mustang

Back in Julian (Apple-Pie Town USA) we stop for, er, Apple Pie (tasty it was too)

A Harley-Davidson

Amusing sign (to Nosher at least) advertising 'weed wacking'

A horse-and-cart clops by on Julian's Main Street

Classic 'The Simpsons'-esque Main Street and B sign

Unusual combination: pistols and petticoats

A yellow Julian fire hydrant

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Route 78 out of Julian, on the edge of Anza-Borrego State Park