The weather is finally starting to cool off, and bike riding in Borrego Springs is a treasure to behold! There are very few cars out on the road in the center of Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, and as I have always like to say- in the middle of nowhere.
Wildlife viewing is abundant and there are very few hills. The conditions of the roads vary according to tax payer dollars and some of them like Henderson Canyon, can be quite poor. The extreme temperatures here in the desert are hard on the asphalt and they heat up and crack. In spite of the road conditions, this area is by far my most favorite place to bike.
Heading west on Di Giorgio – you pass a plant nursery that specializes in herbs, and the smell of basil and rosemary, fill the air with a delicious scent. Several orange groves have been left fallow this year, and it breaks my heart to see these trees die an agonizing and slow death. I wish they would cut the trees down right away. The good news is that maybe citrus growing has lost its appeal here because of heavy water usage and the price of water has gone up! We have a deep aquifer out here, but because growers have unlimited use of wells, the attitude is starting to change and people are complaining about it.
Coyote Canyon is at the end of Di Giorgio, and there is a Swainson’s Hark viewing station and counting bench where you can watch these magnificent raptors when they migrate through from Argentina and Mexico, on their way to Oregon, Washington and as far away as Canada. They are capable of hunting in midair, and it is fascinating to watch them capture Hawkmoths that have morphed from caterpillars to really large moths. These moths help pollinate the Sacred Datura, so the circle of life, not always fair, continues. The caterpillars can be so abundant here that they cover the street on their way from one side of the desert to the other. The plants that have made it through the summer and winter, grow fast and flower right away, only to be mowed down by insects, and the insects fall prey to the birds.
Swainson’s Hawks can have a wingspan of over 4 ft and are large, stocky fliers. They travel in what is called a “kettle” and circle the air currents high up above in large numbers. It is a world event when they pass overhead from February through April, and attract birders from all over!
As we biked around the De Anza Golf Course, who should I see but the 4 hen turkey sisters that came through my backyard during the summer. They were pecking seeds off the newly planted golf course and are always looking out for one another. These gorgeous creatures constantly talk back and forth, and it amazes me that they have traveled down from the surrounding mountains and are calling the harsh desert, home. I would think that coyotes would capture them because there are so few trees in which to roost. Maybe it is all the tamarack wind breaks that ranchers plant. These rows of large, leafy bushes are tall enough to shelter these birds. They have survived through the summer though and look healthy. What a joy it is to see turkeys in the wild. They are so smart and alert and make our domestic turkeys look rather pathetic.
Roadrunners are abundant too, and we usually spot at least one coyote straggler in the mid morning before it heats back up, trotting into Coyote Canyon to sleep off the rest of the day. Biking is a pleasure and very rewarding here in the desert during the spring and winter months. I can only imagine that in the years to come, this will become a much desired biking destination. We have one bike rental and repair shop on our teeny tiny Main Street shopping mall called: Bike Borrego. The owner, Dave, is a really salty character, but very knowledgeable about bikes and has serviced ours, frequently. Visitors coming to Borrego Springs can rent a Cannondale for less than $50.00 a day.
The tourist season has started again and Borrego Springs opens its restaurants and shops and people start to appear from everywhere. The home owners like us, who have survived through the heat of the summer, usually flee in June and come back in October. We were fortunate to head out this summer in our RV with Callie. Last summer we hunkered down and marveled at how anything survives out here!