In the Heat of the Desert – A Day in the Outback of San Diego


The desert has a special fascination. Many people want to go and experience what for other cultures is a hard reality to live in.

There are many types of deserts but they have one thing in common: isolation, dry and harsh surroundings, hard to live in.

In San Diego last September I had the possibility to go to the desert, east of the city. What an experience!


We left not too early in the morning towards the mountain range east of the city. Going higher and higher it became always more dry and inhospitable. Stony, brownish ground with a few bushes, no trees. It made me think of old Western movies, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne riding on their horses through this landscape. I already had fun imagining!


I don’t remember the exact road we took but it was towards Ocotillo. For me, at that time, in the middle of nowhere.

I wanted to have a photo of a road going into endlessness. We found one. Thinking of people coming in this land and finding a landscape that seems not at all good for a future, walking through this desert in the hope that there will be an end with beautiful, lush valleys, water and plenty of animals for food. Dreamers? Maybe, but also people that created a new nation on hope and determination.


While driving through the land of dry bushes and millions of cactus we saw a coyote crossing the street. In the middle of the day! And no camera in the hand…

The advertisements along the road reminded us we are not on the moon but still somewhere in the civilization on earth. Huge trucks passing and again I feel like in an American movie. I loved the advertisement of the fifties, so great!


Somewhere we saw an old trailer. A lot of trash around. We thought maybe there was once a gas explosion that blew up all the stuff. Inside the trailer a nest of a bird who made this place his new home. Shoes, pipes, wire, bottles.. all lying in the gold reflecting sand. All these objects were telling a story of a happier life. It had something mystic and scary to be here. Or maybe it’s only an old Hollywood movie location?


I was fascinated by all the different cactus, their shapes and colors. How would they look like in spring when all of them start to bloom? Flowers everywhere.. that’s something I would love to see.


We did a huge loop before coming back towards the mountains. The landscape changed from super dry and barren, arid, inhospitable to more green, different kinds of shrubs and trees the more we came westwards.


We stopped at a canyon. The view was great and an information board told us that this actually was a route of the stagecoach until the early 20th century. Just to think about it.. only a 100 years ago women and men where sitting in small horse-drawn coaches, jarred by the ride over stones on small invisible roads. OK, I was again in some Western movie. I tried not to think about the last one I saw: “The Hateful Eight” by Quentin Tarantino….


We came back passing Julian, a little town in the Pine Hills and not far from Ramona, where I was already a few times. The place is famous for its apple pies. Unfortunately I couldn’t try any as they were not gluten-free.

We came home late after an exciting day out in the ‘Californian outback’. The desert is special and in great contrast to the busy and – to me– never ending city of San Diego.


San Diego Desert, California/USA:

For further information:
Anza Borrego Desert State Park


Be sociable, tell others!
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