Frank B. Baiamonte

Photography . . . Travel . . .

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Anza Borrego Desert - Fish Creek and Sandstone Canyon - Part 1

Last Sunday the weather was about as good as you could want for a drive in the desert.  It's been several years since we've been to Fish Creek and Sandstone Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park (in Eastern San Diego County, California).  With over 500 miles of dirt roads you can see all sorts of scenery and terrain in this over 600,000 acre State Park.  That's about 938 square miles of space, making it the largest state park in California, the second largest in the contiguous US, and covering a full one-fifth of San Diego County.  Which is all a long way of saying . . . it's a really big place.  I can think of several spots where all you see is natural desert with no sign of anything man-made for as far you can see.  And conveniently, it's only a two-hour drive from our home.

For our Sunday drive we took Split Mountain Road to its end 8 miles south of CA-79 at Ocotillo Wells, and then left the pavement.  We drove about 12 miles up (mostly) wide Fish Creek Wash and then turned into Sandstone Canyon, a much narrower canyon carved out of the sandstone.  We drove about 1.5 miles up Sandstone Canyon, then turned around drove back the way we came.  Total off-road driving was just over 27 miles.

About 3 miles up Fish Creek is a geological formation known as the Anticline at Split Mountain, where you can see how the sandstone folded into layers during an abrupt geological event over 5 million years ago.





This little plant may not look like much, but I've been visiting this area since January of 2006, and it's been there the whole time.  Considering the harsh environment I find it quite impressive to still be there.  Click here if you're curious what it looked like in 2006.



After the narrow spot at Split Mountain, Fish Creek opens back up again to a wide sandy wash with multiple tracks.  4WD drive is a good idea out here, but depending on the conditions, you can sometimes do this drive in a 2WD with high clearance and careful driving.

At one point we spotted a few of these things.  I don't know if this is just a clever and creative work of art, or if it's a marker for some sort of extraterrestrial alien visitation.  You know, the sort of thing you would see on Ancient Aliens.  Either way, we weren't taking any chances, and kept moving. 



Our 2014 Nissan Xterra works well for this sort of exploring.  It has 4WD, all-terrain tires and plenty of space for supplies, but is still small enough to be quite maneuverable in tight spaces, and it's quite comfortable on the road too.



Twelve miles up Fish Creek (I say "up" because we've literally been heading upstream, with a slight elevation gain the entire way) we turned into much narrower Sandstone Canyon.  When we first visited Sandstone Canyon in January of 2006 you could drive about 3 miles up the canyon, which got so narrow in spots you did not want to be hanging your arm out the window on either side.  Since Easter Sunday of 2011 there have been a series of earthquakes that have dropped a significant amount of rock into the canyon floor in places.  Also, because of the amount of water which must flow through there during flash floods, the canyon changes almost every year.  On Sunday we drove up about 1.5 miles and parked, and walked the rest of the way.



There actually was enough room to get through this tight spot . . .



. . . so we did, and continued up a bit further before we parked and walked.





  More to follow in Part 2.
       

Anza Borrego Desert - Fish Creek and Sandstone Canyon - Part 2

Here are more pictures from a trip last Sunday to Fish Creek and Sandstone Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  If you look closely at the bottom right portion of this first image you can see Heather, that will give an idea of the scale of the canyon.



More of these things.



We took a little side trip walk up a very narrow little slot canyon that goes off from Sandstone.  The last time we walked this canyon it was choked with rocks and debris on the canyon floor making it tough to get through in places.  Right now it's a pretty easy walk. Here's a view with Heather in it for scale.




It seemed like a nice spot for a selfie.



Back in the main part of Sandstone Canyon we found a few big ravens.  Most of the time we were there we saw or heard no one else, so it was absolutely dead quiet deep in the canyon.  The raven's calls echoed loudly, but when they flew it was so quiet you could hear the air being pushed by the slow, rhythmic flapping of their wings.  






We walked about 3.5 miles out and back from where we parked.  We saw very few other people, and when we did, it was only for a short time as they drove past.  Otherwise, we had the whole place to ourselves it seemed.

This next image is looking "downstream", i.e. back the way we came, about 3 miles from the start of Sandstone Canyon.  When we first came here in 2006 we drove our first Xterra to a spot a little way past where I was standing when I took this picture.  With the changes in the canyon floor, and because the new Xterra has stock suspension and we were alone, we opted not to risk climbing over the various rock piles to drive here this time.



For comparison, Heather took this next picture in January of 2006 while standing about where I'm taking the one above from, of me coming out of that turn in our old 2005 Xterra.  The truck was so new it didn't even have license plates yet.






Eventually it was time to get back to the Xterra and head for home.



We spotted a small patch of cool looking sand dunes in the late afternoon sun on the way out.




One last stop for a photo, about 10 miles to go to the pavement.



Click here to see more images from our day trip to Fish Creek and Sandstone Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park on Sunday, January 27, 2019.  Click the Anza Borrego tag below for additional blog posts from trips to Anza Borrego.
    
All images with either a Fuji X-T2 and XF18-135mm lens or a Fuji X-T20 and XF10-24mm lens, except for the ones from 2006, which are scanned prints from a film camera.
   

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Joshua Tree National Park

We spent an afternoon wandering around Joshua Tree National Park during the weekend after Thanksgiving this year.  



You can barely see the two rock climbers in this next image.


There was enough water behind Barker Dam to make for some nice views.





We walked back to the car as the sun was setting.  Always a beautiful time in the desert.


Click here to see a few more images from our trip to Joshua Tree National Park in November of 2018.
     

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Center of the World

A few weeks ago Heather and I were joined by a couple of friends in a visit to a rather unique place.  Until recently it never would have occurred to us that the Official Center of the World was so easily accessible . . . but there it is, just 150 miles east of our home in San Diego, and just north of Interstate Highway 8, a few miles before you get to Yuma, Arizona.  It turns out we've been driving right past it for year, and just never knew it.

The Official Center of the World is part of a large complex, the Museum of History in Granite.  You can check out their website for a better explanation than I can write here.  All of this is located in the town of Felicity, California.  The town has a population of two.  We met the Mayor while we were there.  We spent a few hours checking everything out, and plan to back again to spend more time reading the history which is carved into the granite monuments.  In the meantime, here are a few pictures.

Proof we were there - the four of us at the exact Center of the World.


The actual spot that marks the Center of the World is inside this pyramid.  For more proof we were there, those shadows belong to Heather and me.


Here's a good overview of the whole site.





The hill that the church sits on is 35 feet tall, and was engineered specifically for that purpose.


Click here to see more images from our visit to the Official Center of the World at Felicity, California in December of 2018.

All images were taken with a Fuji X-T2 and either the XF10-24mm or XF55-200mm lens, using either Velvia or Acros-R film simulations.
     

Monday, December 24, 2018

Moonlight Forest Chinese Lantern Festival - Part 3

More images from the Moonlight Forest Chinese Lantern Festival at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.  We didn't plan it that way, but we did have a full moon when we were there this past Saturday evening.


There were lots of people lined up for photos in front of the displays.

















Click here to see more images from the 2018 Moonlight Forest Chinese Lantern Festival.
     

Moonlight Forest Chinese Lantern Festival - Part 2

Here are some more images from the Moonlight Forest Chinese Lantern Festival at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

There was a Candy Tunnel.


There were lots of animals - at times I felt like I was back at the Zoo.







We had to take a selfie with the Octopus.  It just seemed like the right thing to do.


More images to follow in Part 3.
     

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at frank@frankbaiamonte.com to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.