Leaving Painted Rock Petroglyph State Park was sad… we wanted to stay, but the state of California was between us and the Pacific Northwest, so we needed to get on the road.

I decided at this time Deke had done enough driving for a while, so I bucked up and drove us out of the park and into CA, about 3 hours away. If you know me, you know I hate driving, so this was a big deal. Thankfully, there was a date shake stand nearby to help me get through it.

There were also some interesting things to see along the way like sand dunes —

and Mexico.

After the second border patrol search, I gave up and let Deke have the wheel again. Good thing too, because we soon hit some serious rain as we turned into Palm Canyon Campground at the Borrego Desert State Park. Borrego means bighorn sheep in Spanish — and yes, they apparently wander the hill, but we didn’t see any. It’s the biggest state park in CA, with miles and miles of dune buggy worthy desert, cultural sites and hiking, and one fabulous feature…..

Before we get to that, we saw a lot of sand and rocks,

Me, wondering which way to go.

found a beautiful campground spot,

All this for $35. Full hook ups.

and after a 2 hour hike, found this: an oasis.

No kidding. Its a real oasis. I didn't know they actually existed.

In a nutshell, Palm Canyon is a beautiful campsite, with about 40 RV sites and 50 or so tent sites. It’s a clean park, with a spectacular view at any site you pick, and apparently a hot spot with the Airstream crowd (we counted 5 one day). The highlight is definitely the hike to the oasis — it’s longer than most we’ve tackled and definitely takes some skill (you’ll climb boulders and balance on logs while crossing a creek).

It's harder than it looks.

And take some water, which I didn’t, so here I am literally drinking from a stream.

I was really thirsty.

And after some more climbing, you see an oasis in the distance and you realize all those old movies actually had it right! And if you’re feeling good, you can climb over some bigger boulders and actually go inside the oasis:

I'll probably never get to do this again.

and see the waterfalls:

One of many.

On the way back from the oasis, we met up with another couple doing the hike — he was a undercover State Park inspector checking out the trail. Where do I sign up for that job?

[slickr-flickr tag=”PalmCanyon”]

Side note: As we drove through AZ to CA, we passed by the Salton Sea. Deke and I drove around the sea a few years ago while visiting Palm Springs and Salvation Mountain, and never thought we’d get the chance to do so again, so we smiled when we saw it. If you’re going to Borrego Springs, you might want to check it out, especially if really odd out-of-the-way spots are your thing. If you can, try and watch the documentary on the Sea as well, John Waters is the narrator and it’s great, weird, funny look at the area. Salvation Mountain was our main destination on that trip, I’ve had it on my wish list for about 10 years, since grad school when I worked on a folk art environment exhibition. It’s right next to Slab City, so if you have an RV, you should probably check it out, although at times the road is rough and definitely fill up on gas before you go. Stop at Salvation Mountain and talk to Leonard. He’ll give you a tour — he’s a sweet, sweet man.

[slickr-flickr tag=”SaltonSea”]