Road Trip to Anza Borrego State Park

Rebecca and I spent the weekend at one of our favorite Road Trip destinations – Anza Borrego State Park – Palm Canyon campground. It’s a desert state park surrounded by mountains on three sides. We’ve been here many times.

It’s an easy drive — head south on I-5 to Carlsbad and then turn east, through Escondido, around some very picturesque mountain roads and back down to the desert floor.

The campground is near the town of Borrego Springs. The Salton Sea is a short drive further east.

If you’ve been reading any of the recent posts you’d know we planned to add another camera to our arsenal. Rebecca’s birthday was coming up on the 19th so I wrapped her present and asked her to open it on the drive.

She had kept remarking how small and light the box was. She knew it couldn’t be a camera. Well, it was the Sony NEX-5N, one of the new breed of compact camera with interchangeable lenses.

She loved it — said it was the cutest camera she had ever seen. Let me tell you, this cute camera packs quite a punch.

The image quality is outstanding — due mostly to its APS-C size sensor. That’s the same size as used in the majority of digital single lens reflex (aka DSLR) cameras on the market. And in this case, bigger is better.

The fact that Sony engineered a camera around that sensor that easily fits in the palm of my hand is amazing.

In the near future we’ll write a post about this camera — it’s strengths and weakness. For now just enjoy the photos from our Road Trip. They were all taken with this camera.

This was going to be a restful trip. We’ve done all the trails near the campground more than once including the very, very popular Palm Canyon trail.

We arrived Friday afternoon and set up our site. The first order of business is setting out the lounge chairs. I swear they are so comfortable I’m not sure what we would do if one broke. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

Speaking of pretty sights/sites (how’s that for an entendre?!?), you can see from the photo below that we had a large space with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. Palm Canyon is just over the ridge in the background.

There are only a few sites on this loop and two of them would have to be considered premium. Each includes a stone enclosure with a fire place and two stone tables.

It turns out the campers in the nearest premium site were leaving Saturday AM, a day early. They invited us to take their site after they left and that’s exactly what we did.

Here’s a photo showing our original site (left hand panel) and the premium site. Once again, the first thing we did was set up the lounge chairs.

We spent the better part of the AM and early afternoon kicking back at our new site, catching up on reading and other leisurely chores.

Check out the skies — it was quite cloudy and dark keeping things unusually cold even for December.

Later in the afternoon we decided to take the short, 2 mile hike to the Visitor’s Center.

The VC was well staffed. Given that the campground was nearly empty the Rangers had plenty of time to chat with us and the few others that were there.

We even got a chance to check out the Junior Ranger classroom area. By the way, note that all of these photos were taken with available light only.

This little powerhouse packs quite a punch, especially in low-light conditions.

For another example, check out the Borrego sheep display in the photo above. Amazing – very high ISO and very low noise with terrific resolution and detail (especially for a camera fitted with a “kit lens”). That’s a winning combo for a camera that fits in the palm of my hand.

For further evidence, check out the crop below. You can read the writing on the sign and nearly count the whiskers on the marmot (if I’ve misidentified the marmot please leave a comment).

The overcast skies made for nice portrait lighting. Nothing like having a soft box as large as the sky. That’s what clouds do for us — exposures are a snap with no ugly shadows anywhere to be found.

Cloudy day lighting is a bit flat so I popped a bit of fill flash for the portraits to add a bit of interest. The tiny little flash on this camera has enough oomph to handle fill flash on a cloudy day.

In direct sun it will be challenged but …. that’s a battle for another day. I love creating portraits of my marvelous wife in a beautiful setting. That (and the peace and quiet) was the highlight of this Road Trip for me.

We headed back to the van and started a fire. The days are short — it was dark by 5PM but we had plenty of time (and toys) to catch  up on some more reading and just enjoy the company and solitude. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Next month we’re headed to a new campground – Dos Picos County Park in San Diego not far from Anza Borrego. Rest assured we’ll bring our new mini-camera. Stay tuned …..

One Response to “Road Trip to Anza Borrego State Park”

  1. Vitalis says:

    Darlin’, you’re in Anza-Borrego! One of my fatvrioe places. I was in Tucson two weeks ago at the beginning of spring there, and was thinking how much more dramatic Anza-Borrego is many more different things in bloom at once. Have you read the Jane Rule stories & novel that take place there?

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