Borrego Springs, California: Tons of excitement – and no April Fool’s – on our 160 mile drive today from Yuma, Arizona to Borrego Springs, California. Well, it was exciting to us. You may fall asleep reading this post. After running this morning (once around the perimeter of The Palms RV Resort in Yuma is one mile), we hitched-up the Honda and headed west on Interstate 8. Our first stop was for diesel. 85 gallons. We reached an amazing 7.7 miles per gallon on our previous tank. Gotta love that flat desert terrain! (If you do not drive a 650hp Cummins diesel engine, you may not be impressed with this figure, so trust me that it is near miraculous.)
Interstate 8 crosses the Colorado River, which is also the Arizona-California border. Here, things get interesting. First, all travelers have to pass an agricultural inspection (we did). Then, the route follows along the All-American Canal.
The All-American Canal is the largest irrigation canal in the world. (More Jeopardy trivia for you, Intelligent Readers!) The entire canal is lined in concrete.
Down the road, a traveler on I-8 will see the “Border Fence” built between the US and Mexico to curtail illegal immigration from Mexico and drug trafficking. Not a pretty sight.
This fence (dark strip through the center of the photo) is sometimes called the “Great Wall of Mexico”. Our tax dollars at work.
Also in this area, every few hundred feet, you will see generator-operated flood-lights which light the way for illegals at night illuminate the desert at night.
Later every vehicle must pass a Border Patrol inspection on I-8. Every car, RV, truck, motorcycle, van, etc., must stop. You can imagine this is quite a huge hold-up on an Interstate freeway.
Lining up for inspection
Two west-bound lanes slow to a crawl
In the end, nearly every vehicle is waved-through. Guess we didn’t look too suspicious, as we were waved-through as well.
We took a break as our route passed-through El Centro, California. Long-time readers will know I am infatuated with the Cardenas Markets – a Mexican grocer in California – and now Nevada. If you ever have a chance to visit any of their locations, I really encourage you to take the time to explore. It is like a field trip to a Mexican marketplace, without all the border-crossing hassles.
Plenty of parking in the parking lot – and there is also a Staples here and a Costco across the street.
Stepping into the El Centro Cardenas is like entering Mexico. Nearly every shopper is Hispanic. Nearly every product is imported from Mexico. Most signage is in Spanish. The market has a full service bakery, butcher, deli, great produce and everything else you could need. So colorful too.
Pretty cakes and pastries from the bakery… but it is Passover. I swear, every time we visit this market it is Passover. Dang.
My Driver is mad for mangos. They were three for 99¢. Seriously. A large box of strawberries was 99¢. Huge cucumbers were fifty cents each. Avocados were – don’t faint – five for one dollar.
Cardenas offers about twenty different peppers – from your basic bell pepper to the hottest chilies.
Carrots to chayote – Cardenas has it all and it all is of the best quality. Cardenas also carries a few things you may not find at your neighborhood Safeway store.
Chicken feet. Don’t wince until you have tried them. Deep-fried chicken feet are a favorite bar snack throughout Asia and one of The Lovely Lisa’s favorite lunchbox treats when she was an elementary school student in Taipei.
Can’t say the same about beef lips. Haven’t tried them straight-up… but if you have eaten beef chorizo sausage, you have eaten beef lips.
NOTE TO SELF: Never kiss a cow.
But we stop at Cardenas Market for one special item – their grilled chicken. I stood in line to order the chicken. I placed my order in Spanish (which is interesting because my Spanish is very limited). The clerk repeated what I said to confirm. I said si. She gave me a claim number (28) and I waited until viente ocho was called to fetch my prize. I was feeling so international.
This can be yours for $7.99 (plus the ridiculously-high California sales tax). We munched on our chicken in the Magna Peregrinus while she was parked in front of the Staples store… then we continued north on Highway 86/78 towards Borrego Springs.
Just north of El Centro is a huge Spreckels Sugar plant, where sugar is produced from beets. This facility makes granulated sugar, powdered sugar and molasses. The waste from the plant is used to feed dairy cattle. This area is below sea level – note the “Sea Level” mark on the tower!
Just before taking a left onto Highway 78 to reach Borrego Springs, we came upon another Border Patrol inspection station. This line was ONE MILE long. We discovered the delay was due to a luxury tour bus full of Mexican nationals on their way to Los Angeles.
The little road into Borrego Springs was simply breathtaking. The Ocotillo cactus is in full bloom. Near Ocotillo Wells, the desert is orange-red (my Mom would have called it “tropicana”). In all the years we have been coming to the desert in the winter/spring – only eleven – we have never seen the ocotillo in such a prolific bloom. Expect too many blooming cactus photos over the next few days.
And so we arrived at one of our favorite RV resorts – The Springs at Borrego. We arrived one day early for our reservation, so will have to move spots in the morning… but we are always happy here. We have stayed here several times before and think this is one of the nicest parks in America.
The skies look threatening, but we enjoyed our evening cocktail outside in tee-shirts. Speaking of cocktails… anyone for a mojito?
Mint, lime, simple syrup, rum and soda water – over ice. Yummy.
Our dinner tonight was also yummy, but it wasn’t very pretty. Tonight I made my Mushroom Schnitzel – which I only make during Passover. However the market in Yuma last night only had Portobello mushrooms… which made my schnitzels a little “dark”. The flavor was still delicious, but I recommend using everyday white mushrooms when making this dish.
I hide nothing from you. The good. The bad. The ugly. You will see it all here on RVGoddess.com.
Until my next update, I remain, your Borrego Springs correspondent.
RV Park: The Springs at Borrego. Full-service, luxury resort with a regulation 9-hole golf course. Naturally-fed hot spring hot tubs, pool, exercise room, party room, activities, fabulous pet-run, lake-side fire pits with community gatherings. Just a great place to spend a few days… or weeks… in the sleepy village of Borrego Springs. We highly recommend this park.