The Hunt for Pokémon in Borrego Springs, California

Our daughter Lara came to visit Michael and me for Christmas and after a day of feasting and watching Santa Claus movies, she suggested that we go in search of Pokémon Go, a new version of Pokémon designed for people that are on the run who can search for rewards while they travel or excercise outdoors. I scoffed at the idea that any of these little creatures, or as Lara calls them, “items” would be discovered within 100 miles of Anza Borrego and the small town of Borrego Springs! Lara thought otherwise. She proceeded to give me an abridged version of the creation of this game that has become popular everywhere, and I took a half hearted interest in it only because I wanted to prove her wrong. The creator of this game inadvertently designed it to help children get out of the house and discover the joys of physical exercise. There are eggs that you can collect that appear on your phone that hatch when walking a certain distance, and rewards are set up to entice the player to search for them outdoors. Apparently quite a few autistic children benefit from participating in the game too, because they like to collect things such as bugs, and this game being a treasure hunt of sorts, draws them out of the house. With this in mind, I decided to take Lara up on the challenge, but only after telling her I was 100% sure we would not find any. We loaded up our well fed bodies into the car, and with Lara’s phone on, and me driving safely, we headed toward the center of town. It wasn’t long before the first Pokémon Go item flashed on Lara’s phone, and it was located at the outdoor fountain of my favorite Mexican restaurant, Pablito’s. We parked the car and ran over to the fountain, and she was able to capture some kind of a mystical pony, a PONYTA or FIREPONY that is difficult to catch. They actually run away as virtual beasties, as each area has its own biodiversity, and the desert has SANDSHREWS and DIGLETTS! She also took a photo of the fountain, and I had to admit I was amazed that we found an item so soon into our adventure! Somewhat humbled, but still a skeptic, we headed out again, only to find another Pokémon at Carmelita’s, then to my absolute amazement, the library, (which was a gym) whatever that means, and I was in on the game and totally inpressed. Who would have ever thought there would be Pokémon items in the middle of a retirement community! I then had the brilliant idea that maybe the sculptures that our local artist, Ricardo Breceda created, and were exhibited in unusual places, may somehow have Pokémon items at their locations. Lara thought why not? So off we went in search of the wild horses on Borrego Springs Rd which is about a mile from town. Ricardo Breceda created a small herd of horses that are galloping and bucking away in fright that are being attacked by sabertoothed tigers. People from all over the world come to see these horses, and many of his other sculptures. They are known world wide as the Galleta Meadows Sculptures, and the Mythical Dragon is probably his most famous work of art. All of the sculptures on public land have a Pokémon item at their location, and Lara and I had so much fun driving from one site to the next in search of treasure. Not only do you get to view these beautiful works of art, but people are collecting Pokémon rewards to boot! I wonder how many parents know about this?  We ran into families from all over that were admiring the sculptures, and I bet the children were collecting Pokémon items too! It was a fun filled afternoon and I was able to appreciate the hunt for Pokémon Go after having experienced it myself, firsthand. Lara and I did spend an afternoon running around from one sculpture site to another and ended up doing a fair amount of exercise. I am still shocked that Anza Borrego has so many Pokémon creatures hidden in the middle of nowhere, and in the harsh environment of the desert, AND you would never know it unless someone enlightened you of their existence! Anza Borrego Desert State Park and neighboring Borrego Springs continues to surprise me, and I have to admit that I was wrong about Pokémon Go, and that my daughter was right! I guess I am not in the middle of nowhere after all! I also have to make it clearly understood that I am sharing a story from the perspective of someone who knows literally nothing about the game of Pokémon Go, and that the moral of this particular story is to NOT judge a book by its cover, or for that matter, the content that it contains…………..

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