Day 4 & 5
After leaving the beauty of Lake Tahoe I decided to take the long way back home and see what other kinds of adventures and cool stuff I could find. There is something to be said about traveling with no destination in mind. The things you see can be very interesting and I was fortunate to find a few great stops along the way back to Phoenix.
I stopped in San Diego for about an hour just to stretch my legs and dip my toes in the sand, a requirement for any time I go to California. The day was overcast and plenty of surfers enjoying the good sized waves coming in.
First stop is Julian, CA. A small town about an hour drive east of San Diego in the Cuyamaca mountains surrounded by apple orchards.
In 1869, a former slave named A.E. Fred Coleman was riding through what is now known as Coleman Creek. Something shiny caught his eye in the creek bed and he began shifting through the sandy bottom and found gold. It was not long after that hundreds flocked to the area and began staking their claims. In 1870 the first Saw Mill was established and the city soon began to take shape.
While the majority rushed to Julian for the gold, James Madison brought along with him a wagon load of young apple trees. The trees flourished in the area and soon the small gold town started getting a new reputation for its apple pies.
There isn’t much to this quiet little community. Downtown is a small two to three block strip with a couple of Inns, Restaurants, shops and a small museum.
The reason for stopping in Julian other than the scenery, Mom’s Place.
They have these Apple Dumplings that are the best I’ve eaten anywhere. And I discovered that you can order these delectable treats online!!
The next leg of my journeys dropped me in a middle of nowhere town called Boreggo Springs. Surrounded by the Anza-Borrego State Park, Boreggo Springs is recognized as a designated “international dark sky” settlement, which means there are no stop lights and night time lights are at a bare minimum to protect the views of the night sky. Unfortunately, I did not learn about this until after I left, so I will be coming back out here to do some more night time shooting.
The hotel, Stanlunds Inn & Suites is a cool little place to stay. Very 1970’s feel with a small kitchenette and back patio. For $70/night, it is a great deal. The only downside was the AC. They only run the AC when someone is in the room and during the summer it takes a long while before the entire room was cool. I did get a call from the owner a few hours before I arrived asking when I would get there so they could start cooling the room down, so if you are planning on staying here, call them in the morning to see if they can turn it on ASAP. They have a well-maintained pool as well so bring your swimsuits!
With the end of my journey in sight, I turn my car east and make the final leg back to Phoenix. Along the way, as I am heading towards Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea, I stopped at Salvation Mountain. A quirky little tourist pit stop in the middle of nowhere sits this massive structure.
Created by local artist Leonard Knight, in 1984 he began building the first Salvation Mountain, but it was unstable and collapsed. What is standing now is the second creation and is currently maintained by a group of volunteers. There is no fee to pay to view this unique structure, but there is a charity set up to help maintain and grow the current structure.
My last stop on this 2,000 + mile trips is Bombay Beach at the Salton Sea. Bombay Beach is the lowest community in America, sitting at 223 feet below sea level with a population of 225, according to the 2010 census. Yes, there are people who live on/near the Salton Sea despite the smell. I also learned that Bombay Beach marks the southern end of the San Andreas fault.
Created by accident, the Salton Sea was formed after two irrigation canals were built in the early 1900’s. Poor construction and torrential rainfall made a bad situation worse as the Colorado river completely filled the Salton Sea over a two year period. Eventually, they were able to repair the canals and stop the flooding.
In the 1950’s & 60’s, Salton Sea became a tourist destination and drew in huge crowds to play. Today, the skeletal remains of motels, boats, and homes are all that remains, which is great for us strange folk who like this sort of thing.
It’s a shame that this area that was once known as the “crown jewel of avian biodiversity,” is now just a post-apocalyptic landscape that attracts tourists only for the skeletal remains of a once thriving area.