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…………..

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada, USA and is located only 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. It was a perfect getaway for Callie and my family while staying in Las Vegas and a much needed reprieve from the crush of humanity that the city endures during the New Year’s celebration. Over 2 million people descend on Vegas for this holiday and after a couple of days of city life, I needed to take a break. Valley of Fire is home to brilliant natural formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes that are more than 150 million years old. The bright red hues of burnt sienna, raw umber and golden yellow ochre, paint the landscape with an artistic and colorful pallet, and when the suns rays strike them a certain way, the rocks and sand dunes appear to be lit with fire. Nature photography is at its best after a storm has washed the sky and nourished the ground and this day did not disappoint me. We drove over to Lake Mead when we first arrived and traipsed through semi dry but sticky mud to get to a cliff overlooking the lake. The clouds were dramatically back lit and reflected perfectly on the calm water, and it was crisp and cool after torrential rains from the day before. There was evidence of flash flooding everywhere and I was thankful we arrived when the storm had fizzled out because it must have been one powerful weather front! The sun came out in the early afternoon which provided ample sunshine for a picnic at Seven Sisters. After we ate we hiked along the Mouse Tank Trail to witness the beautiful petrogliphics that adorn the cliff walls. It was a breathtakingly beautiful day perfectly designed for dramatic and soulful photography. We spotted a group of female bighorn sheep with one yearling lamb quietly grazing along the roadside and ended the day at Arch Rock. I felt refreshed and energized after an afternoon spent outdoors and was ready to head back to Vegas to finish out 2016. Callie loved hiking around Seven Sisters and sitting on the picnic table for lunch. She needed to get away and enjoy the great outdoors and nature too. The next day when we decided to go out for breakfast she dashed under the bed to hide, which is her way of saying she wants to spend the day napping. We granted Callie her wish and let her stay hidden under the bed. We weren’t really going to ask her to join us for breakfast in the first place, and let her think she was getting her way, which pleases her to no end. If you go back to the hotel room after leaving for 10 minutes, you will find her spread out on top of the bed in a blissful state of sleep. She always lifts her head up in disbelief that you are back so soon,  blinking in a sleep filled daze and appears consumed with guilt. It is a win-win for all involved. We get to have a quiet breakfast without her and she gets to spend the day in a lazy blur of sleep, thinking she got away with murder.

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