Thursday, May 31, 2012

camping in anza-borrego

Last week we decided we would go camping in the Anza-Borrego desert for Memorial Day weekend. I have been wanting to go camping there for a while, and our previous plans for the weekend fell through. Unfortunately, there was a fire right near the area that I wanted to camp, at Blair Valley. The Banner Fire is now contained...but as of Friday it was only at 20% containment and the road leading to Blair Valley, county road S-2, had been closed right around the fire area. County road S-2 is also called The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849...which is the name I like to use just because it takes such a long time to say :-) 
Anyway, I researched some other campgrounds in the desert...and came across Bow Willow Campground. It's on the same road that was closed, but much further South. 
So, Saturday morning we headed East on I-8 until we reached Ocotillo.

 When you get to Ocotillo, you get off and turn left on Imperial highway...aka county road S-2...aka The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 :-) It seems to be newly paved at this point.
 The turn-off for Bow Willow is so poorly marked that you would nearly miss it. After driving on this road later the next day, I figured out that this is the case with pretty much every campsite or point of interest around here. Teeny tiny little brown signs, placed low to the ground, and about a foot or two before where you need to turn off. So if you've had time to read and comprehend the sign, you've probably missed your turn!
 The road to Bow Willow. Only about a mile or two on this sandy road.
 The campsites are really nice here...each one has a pergola, picnic table, and fire ring. We picked a spot that was farthest away from the bathrooms and other people :-)

Cholla cactus. These things hurt!

 We took the dogs on a hike nearby before dinner...we let them loose when we saw that there were no other people around. They didn't seem to mind the heat at all and went crazy as usual :-)

 Ocotillo plants. Technically not cactus, but they are just as prickly.
 The view.
 More cholla.
A close-up of an Ocotillo.

Cholla...these things are so weird, they seem to jump out at you and stick to you. This one got stuck to my toe, and Bandit got one stuck to his side! Thankfully his fur is thick enough and it didn't pierce his skin.

Shasta really blends in with the desert!

The beginning of sunrise, Sunday morning.
There is a reason I was up before 5:30 to see the sun rise...I did not sleep. I'm not exaggerating, either, I literally did not sleep at all. It was a combination of being in a two person tent with four bodies in it, dogs panting like crazy because it was hot in the tent, and us forgetting to bring our pillows :( Eventually the dogs got let outside in the middle of the night, but even after that I could not sleep. Every half hour or so, I was actually checking the sky to see if daylight was coming so I could just get up and not lay there trying to sleep! It finally did...

Sunrise over the campground.
Clint was up not too much longer after me...he got some sleep, but not much at was an uncomfortable night for everyone. So, after making some much-needed coffee and eating breakfast, we packed up and headed home. We knew we wouldn't be in good shape to do much exploring or hiking that day. 
We plan to go back though...there are some really cool things out there that are just begging to be explored :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Most who read this blog have already heard the sad news...but for those who haven't I will share. Saturday night was a bad, bad night.
I should back-track a little...earlier that day we had been getting the coop ready for the chickens. We bought hay and a new, bigger feeder. We made them a nice roosting post, too...and laid the hay down in the nesting area. After taking a break, we put the dogs upstairs for a bit while we carried the chickens in a box down the hill and moved them into their new home. The dogs got let out again, and at first didn't notice anything. After a while though, I saw Shasta at the bottom near the coop sitting by the door cocking her head from left to right. Something new was inside there, and she wasn't gonna let it go. Bandit hung out around the coop too, but soon lost interest.
We headed out to get lunch and go shopping for our upcoming trip...when we got back, we immediately went down to the hill to see how the chickies were doing. Shasta was in the same spot we left her in, and had gnawed a little on the lid of the nesting box (it lifts up so you can grab eggs easier)...and it looked like she had tried to dig through some of the gravel that's surrounding the coop. After scolding her for that, and making sure the chicks were okay, we went back in the house. We had an 8:30 reservation for sushi in Old Town...and it was about 6...we were bored, so we decided to just head down there anyways, since Old Town is a cool place to walk around.
When we got back home around was a grim sight. Clint went outside first. Bandit was at the door waiting for us. Clint called for Shasta, but she didn't come...he called her again and he heard her bark. She's not much of a barker, so that was unusual. He looked down the hill, and she was stuck INSIDE the coop. My stomach flipped over a few times at that point, I think. Apparently Shasta found a weak spot in the hardware cloth and just tore her way through. Our poor chickies had been killed. Well, five of them anyways...the blonde one is missing and we combed the yard for any remains and we can't find anything. Weird thing is that Shasta didn't try to eat any of them (that we can see). They weren't bloody or dismembered in any way. Two or three of them probably simply died from fright, as young chickens can do very easily. Shasta hid from us the rest of the night. So did Bandit, even though he didn't actually do anything. I suppose he was feeling guilty by proxy.
The amount of heartache we are feeling seems a little silly since we are talking about chickens here, but I got really attached to them...we both did. They had their own quirky little personalities and they felt like our babies since we've taken care of them on a daily basis now. Every time I think about it I still feel sick inside...and guilty too.
Despite the setback, we are determined to have chickens. You can bet we will be reinforcing that coop to where it is near impenetrable! We will also be working with Shasta a lot. One of the reasons we bought her is the wolf in her, and all the good qualities that come with hybrids...but unfortunately she has the instinct that comes along with it too.
So, we ordered more chickens. This time we will have not only Silkies, but a few Easter-Eggers and one Welsummer, which I am excited for. Hence the name, Easter-Eggers can lay a variety of colored, blue, and pink eggs. Welsummers lay very dark brown speckled eggs. They are coming at the end of July, so in the meantime we are going to make our coop into a chicken fortress and also train Shasta.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The chickies are now 4 weeks old...they are losing their fluff and are starting to get their feathers. The feathers coming in on top of their heads are especially ridiculous-looking :-) We also stuck two bamboo sticks in their box about a week ago, and they are finally learning to roost!