Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blog #15

Anza-Borrego State Park

In late March of  2015 I drove the 1250 miles south to Anza-Borrego. Along the way my daughter Joan joined me at the Oakland airport and we drove across the bay and picked up grand daughter Melanie at Stanford where she was on spring break.
Russ and Melanie with Ranger

Inspecting a Mammoth Skull

Melanie is a geology student and the trip was designed to introduce her to one of America's great treasures. Joan loves poking about in rocks and the paleontology interested her as well. The park is two hours drive from San Diego and a short distance north of the Mexican Border. It spans more than six hundred thousand acres of the Southern California desert and, after Adirondak Park in New York, is the largest state park in the coterminous 48 states. My youngest sister Robin Connors is the archaeologist in the park and she organized tours of the archaeology and paleontology labs for us. 

Headquarters is in Borrego Springs which is largely below sea-level and the park goes from minus 200 to 6,000 feet in elevation. The park has the most continuous fossil evidence of the past seven million years found anywhere in North America. Walrus, dolphin, elephant, camel, horse, mammoth, saber-toothed cats, hyenas; you name it and its probably found there. If and when the sea rises, it will become inundated again along with the Salton Sea and Death Valley.

We caught the tail-end of the wild flower bloom and got to hike in some remarkable places. A dozen rare desert big-horned sheep wandered by us while we were hiking and we saw lots of birds and reptiles (no rattlers) along the way. It got up to a hundred degrees F and we north-westerners were feeling it. Along the way we camped at Allensworth and Morro Bay State Parks as well as Joshua Tree National Park. The trip home took us up the coast where we saw hundreds of Elephant Seals hauled out on a beach at San Simeon and cooled down in the Redwoods of Northern California.

When I think of the continual erosion of funding for state parks in our state I can't help wondering where our priorities as a people who love our country have gone. I'm certain I was passing Californians going in the opposite direction to get away from the drought and heat and to bask in our cool climate while I got a bit browner in theirs.  "... for purple mountain's majesty..."  

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