Roadtrekkin’ To Anza-Borrego

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This last week we took a road trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in a Roadtrek 190 – here’s the story…

Intro – The Roadtrekker Plan

The plan for this adventure began last year, with the goal being to go camping in our friend’s Roadtrek 190 RV (a very generous friend!) to see what “RV Camping” was like, and to decide if we’d want to take the RV on a cross-country adventure later this year.

A month ago we added another goal – to make a perfect Moscow Mule while camping. Very important stuff!

Last March we made reservations at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for this year – we got a site with “full hook-ups” – A term we weren’t familiar with yet, but were told this is what we wanted.

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All of our camping in the past has been car camping and tent camping. We had a Vanagon back in the mid-90’s, but it wasn’t anything close to the experience of the Roadtrek 190.

As we discovered this week, RV camping is very different from regular camping…

The Roadtrek 190

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21 feet of mobile camping luxury – stove, microwave, sink, toilet, shower, air conditioning, a queen-size bed, flat screen TV with DVD player (we watched Argo the second night while hiding out from the wind), comfy captains chairs and more. The photo above is a rather surreal pano shot of the interior…

It’s basically a small house that gets rather poor gas mileage (15 mpg) – which leads to the other major differences between RV camping and regular camping:

  • The RV park felt like an ever-changing “neighborhood” of little mobile houses (ours was the smallest house) instead of a campground.
  • The age group was definitely older than the average group we’d find camping. At 48 I felt like I was one of the younger people around.
  • Very few campfires at night. We love campfires.
  • Most people spend a great deal of time inside their vehicles (us included) when we’re not outside running around on hikes or dog walks. You can retreat into your small home so you don’t feel compelled to be outside all the time.
  • You’re not out in the elements all the time like when you’re camping.

The vibe of the park was very friendly and relaxed. Several people stopped by to say hi and make us feel welcome (to the neighborhood). All-in-all, different from regular camping but not bad at all.

After quickly leveling the Roadtrek when we arrived and plugging into the electricity, camp was basically set-up. We had our camp chairs and firewood to get out and set-up – but that’s it. In minutes I had water for my evening cup of coffee boiling on the stove.

Usually it takes 45 minutes to an hour of unloading and carrying stuff and sweating to set-up our tent (arranging our living environment within the tent, for us and our pups), camp stove, lanterns, firewood, camp chairs, cooler, food and utensils, and all the other 150 things we take with us. We are NOT light travelers.

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Right away we were seeing the benefits of this RV approach to convenient road traveling…

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Above: That’s me waking up the first morning in the Roadtrek…

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Above: Suki and Moseley having breakfast…

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Above: Second day – reading the instruction book to figure out how the awning works – less than 10 minutes later we had excellent shade (see below) that was better than the palm tree that was shading me for the moment.

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The Anza-Borrego Desert

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The Anza-Berrego Desert State Park is located between the mountains east of San Diego and the Salton Sea. It is a beautifully desolate desert with extensive badlands and numerous off-roading places.

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It’s about 225 miles from our home in Long Beach. Our route to get to our destination took us along Interstate 10, south to the 86 along the west side of the Salton Sea and then across 30 miles of a single lane highway to Borrego Springs, the small town in the heart of the desert. Our RV park was 2 miles outside of town (see below – we’re the blue dot – image from Google Earth screen-capture).

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From Wikipedia:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a state park located within the Colorado Desert of Southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th-century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, the Spanish word for bighorn sheep.

With 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) that include one-fifth of San Diego County, Anza-Borrego is the largest state park in California and, after New York’s Adirondack Park, the second largest in the continental United States.

The park occupies eastern San Diego County and reaches into Imperial and Riverside Counties, enveloping two communities: Borrego Springs (home of the park headquarters) and Shelter Valley.

source (with much more information): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anza-Borrego_Desert_State_Park

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Above: Tania’s shadow self-portrait- view from our site…

Moscow Mules

One of our latest obsessions is a drink called a Moscow Mule- a vodka mule cocktail made with lime juice and ginger beer – served in a copper cup.

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Tania and I are both beer drinkers. For the last few years we’ve been exploring the wide variety of IPA’s – Stone IPA, Racer 5, Ranger from New Belgium Brewing, and Lagunitas IPA being our rather steady favorites.

Neither of us have been into hard alcohol since we were much younger (like half a lifetime ago!), and I’ve never liked vodka in particular. But we were intrigued by one of Tania’s coworker’s descriptions of Moscow Mules so we started investigate mixed-drink options to change it up a little. Moscow Mules is our first delicious stop on this new adventure…

Here’s the history of Moscow Mules according to George Sinclair from an article in the New York Herald Tribune:

The mule was born in Manhattan but “stalled” on the West Coast for the duration.

The birthplace of “Little Moscow” was in New York’s Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise…

Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products and owner of the Hollywood Cock ‘n’ Bull Restaurant; one was John G. Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers Inc. of Hartford, Conn., and the third was Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division.

As Jack Morgan tells it, “We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius”. Martin and Kunett had their minds on their vodka and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot joined with Morgan’s ginger beer and the squeeze of a lime.

Ice was ordered, limes procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure. Four or five later the mixture was christened the Moscow Mule…

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_mule

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Above (and below): Ads from 1966 for a “Smirnov Mule” party featuring Woody Allen – note the copper cups.

 

You cannot have a proper Moscow Mule without using copper cups. There’s something about the acidic lime juice and the vodka interacting with the copper (oxidation) to subtly affect the taste in a good way – at least that’s my theory.

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Above: Mixing the next round of Moscow Mules…

Recipe For a Moscow Mule

  • 2 oz. Vodka (we used Ketel One)
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • 3 to 4 oz. of Ginger Beer (we used Cock ‘n Bull)
  • Several ice cubes
  • Slice of lime
  • Sprig of mint

Use a copper cup (very important!!!) – add ice cubes to chill cup (pre-chill cup if possible).

Fresh squeeze 1 oz. of lime juice for each Moscow Mule you’re making.

Pour 2 oz. of vodka and the lime juice into the chilling copper cup. Add the ginger beer. Stir. Add slice of lime and sprig of mint and stir again. The cup should be very cold by this point. Serve and enjoy! Yum!

Interesting Things We Saw And Did…

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Above: Ocotillo in bloom…

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Above: The amazing Barrel Cactus in bloom

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Above: Small Bears – Next Right

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Above: On a twilight hike with my faithful Moseley dog…

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Above: Defiant dog.

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Above: While hiking we found some questionable bathroom facilities…

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Above: Tania and Suki kickin’ it (post-hike) on the bed. Suki is the black fuzzy shape on the left…

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Above: Burning a bag’s worth of old credit card statements accumulated over years past! Always a good time. Credit cards no more.

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Above: Relaxing with Moseley late-night just before making the long 8 foot walk to bed…

Sad note about the annual flower blooms: A real problem is going on in Anza-Borrego Desert concerning the annual spring flower blooms – an event which usually attracts thousands of visitors each year. Non-native mustard plants have taken over, and are destroying the native flower population and the annual bloom – very sad.

You can read more about it here in an article from the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-weed-war-20130317,0,3299608.story

More photos below in the gallery!!! Check them out…

Gallery of Photos

 

Next Trip – Earthships In New Mexico!

This Roadtrekker trip – complete success! Now for the next adventure…

For years Tania and I have wanted to visit an Earthship. What is an Earthship, you ask? It’s an amazing eco-friendly, off-the-grid, housing solution created by visionary Mike Reynolds. Here’s a short video to give you an idea:

Earthship 101 – Part 1

Note: Part 2 of the video can be found here: http://youtu.be/Rlrhxqat_6A

The original Earthship community is in New Mexico near Taos, where you can visit and stay in an Earthship. We’re going in October!!!

More information on this upcoming two-week adventure as we get closer to October…

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