Anza-Borrego Desert – CA

East of San Diego is the Anza-Borrego Desert which was in a “super bloom” this spring due to all the rain California has been getting.  We drove out to see it but were probably a couple weeks passed the peak flowers.

There were still some to see but definitely not to the level we had been told.

A desert iguana who was clearly protecting his home from us

In the town right next to Anza-Borrego are tons of metal statues spread out our miles with no signs or explanations.

It’s like “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”

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San Diego, CA – Part 2

There are so many free activities and things to see around San Diego that we definitely didn’t get to it all in just 2 week.

Balboa Park has free organ concerts on Sunday afternoons

The audience was a spectacle all their own

Botanical garden in Balboa Park

I feel like these flowers should come to life as tigers in a Disney film (maybe that already happened in Fantasia)

Tiny flowers growing in the middle of a bigger flower – so cool and so weird

Old Town San Diego – Rylan was excited to see a covered wagon like in Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pretty cool to see where San Diego originally started – the mayor’s house, bank, hotel, first public school, church and of course the jail

Toben’s going for the crazy tongue look

Ready to travel full-time like the pioneers did

Taylor Guitars has a factory in El Cajon, CA and gives free daily tours.  The wood acclimates for outside for several years before being used.

Cool inventions by the founder to streamline the manufacturing process.

Two new robots to speed up the buffing process

Holding together the necks while the glue dries

Speed carving

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San Diego, CA – Part 1

We had planned to go to southern California right after the new year, but extra weeks of trailer work and detours in Utah, Nevada and Arizona delayed us until April.  Finally it was time to see San Diego 🙂

Seaport Village

Kellen – camo shorts, Toben – khaki

Wow, that’s a lot of kids!

Views from the top of Mt Soledad

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge – built in 1912

And a bit more wiggly than I would like!

Point Loma

La Jolla

The seals at the Children’s Pool

Just down from the seals were sea lions – interesting to see the differences in how they walk, interact and smell!

They blend in with the rocks so well!

Ending the day with gelato and a beautiful sunset in La Jolla

But all the kids wanted to do was wrestle on the grass

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Joshua Tree NP – CA

Our last stop on the trek to southern California was Joshua Tree National Park.  The trees got their name from Mormon settlers who thought they looked like Joshua holding his arms up to God.

The park was insanely crowded and had lots of climbers on ropes all over the place.  We saw multiple emergency vehicles rescuing climbers and even several helicopters trying to get folks out of precarious situations.

Skull Rock

Kellen – orange, Toben – hat/hoodie

I know a lot of people like it but we weren’t big fans of Joshua Tree and the crowds didn’t help so it was good that we were able to stop by briefly while we were passing through the area.

As we drove out of the park and down in elevation the plants kept changing in layers.

These ocotillos were Logan’s favorite

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Valley of Fire – NV

We had heard about Valley of Fire State Park while staying in Vegas and were glad to get a chance to check it out.

The hikes were insanely sandy – we’ll be finding red dust for months!

Kellen – gray/camo, Toben – navy/jeans

Lots of examples of ancient petroglyphs in the rocks

And lots of amazingly striped rocks

The slot canyon was everyone’s favorite

The park closed at sunset and we used every last bit of time we had.

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Drive back to Nevada

Since it was going to be a snowy, cold weekend at the Grand Canyon we headed out a day earlier and decided to hit a couple other sites on our way to southern California.

We got gas and dinner on the historic Route 66

And a major truck, trailer and van wash at a gigantic truck wash!

We drove back up toward Nevada and through the Lake Mead National Recreation area where the cactus were in bloom.

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Grand Canyon – AZ

From Vegas we headed to some national forest land about 10 mins from the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park.  It was a tight balance of getting enough power from our solar panels and not using too much water but the quiet and the space was awesome!

We fought through the insane parking lot at the visitor center, picked up some Jr Ranger packets and walked down to the rim for the kids first look at the Grand Canyon.

Kellen – camo, Toben – khaki

Like Vegas we visited the park multiple times throughout the week which made it possible to see a few different sections and do some hikes.

Bright Angel Trail

Kellen – blue/yellow, Toben – khaki shorts

Caiden and Rylan contemplating the trails below

Still smiling at the end

Mohave Point

South Kaibab Trail – this one had crazy drop offs and was really nerve-racking

We hiked down to Oo Ah Point then turned around and came back up

Kellen – camo pants, Toben – hat

We made it back up to the rim as the sun was setting

Thankfully we never passed a group of mules on our hikes (I just can’t imagine trying to squeeze past them) but we did get to visit a few friendly ones.

Working on Jr Ranger books while waiting for pizza

Out to Desert View to check out the 70 foot watchtower completed in 1932

Inside the watchtower stairs spiraled up several levels to some great views at the top

Several elk sightings near the road on our way back

Temperatures kept dropping through the week so we had a rare campfire

And woke up to snow on our last day

Snowy day = breakfast inside

Logan and the kids went to see the canyon but the day was warming up quickly and there wasn’t too much snow left by the time they got there.

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