Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 21: I Like The Purple Ones

Yesterday we took a day trip to Borrego Springs. That's not very strange, except for the fact that we've never done it before. I'd heard tell of the explosion of desert wildflowers there every spring, and it sounded like something I would like. I just wasn't sure if Jarrah would agree. But I heard the flowers were particularly good after all the rain this year, and Jarrah is pretty easy-going about being in the car. So we went.

I Don't Think I've Ever Had This Feeling Before

It's a beautiful drive, through giant rocks and then all kinds of cactus, with mountains all around. But it's also a long drive (the GPS thought 90 minutes; the road felt differently and it was 2 hours) on very twisty little roads. David and I did fine, but a certain someone was drawing, and after about an hour she got ominously quiet. I felt so bad for her and asked if she needed to barf, but she's barfed so few times in her life I don't think she recognizes the signs. She didn't barf, but she wasn't a happy camper, and ended up sleeping the last half-hour. Which was probably for the best, because at that point we were also slowly depleting her brain of oxygen by withholding lunch until we arrived.

Aside from my parental worries, I was already having a great time. The drive was gorgeous, and new and different. Sometimes all I need to soothe my demons is a change of scenery. Borrego Springs was having an Art Fair, and there were little white booths set up in the grassy roundabout in the middle of town. We stopped at the General Store and picked up some maps, and I asked the decidedly not stoked ranger lady for advice about where to find flowers. You could just see on her face that every person since 8:00 a.m. had been asking her the same thing and not listening to the person in front of them. Just like how I didn't listen.

Next, a 20 Dollar Gift Certificate to Carlee's Char-Broiled Steaks!

We drove across town to the Borrego Springs Resort for lunch. Why? I'd heard that it was nice. It was a'ight. I could tell, though, that I would have been over the moon if I golfed. The place was crawling with golfers. I requested the patio because the weather was perfect, sunny and breezy. The rest of the clientele seemed to be on a golf break, and soon some sort of raffle started up. It was cute. Our waitress was smitten with Jarrah, and Jarrah responded in kind, giving her lots of updates on the status of her drawings. Later, Jarrah sighed and said "She loves me, the same way you do." David said, "Uh, not quite," but it was pretty funny. We got some more specific flower advice from Smitten Waitress, finished our very small lunch (Jarrah ordered cod and guacamole, two things her parents refuse to eat) and then we were off.

Look! The Most Wonderful Flower In The World!

Surprisingly, (or not?) Jarrah was very into finding the flowers. Of course, she was also pretty focused on my vague promise that we would find her a lollypop somewhere, and that came up a few million times. We drove out of town on DiGiorgio Rd. and eventually it ended in dirt. But this was a good thing because now we saw a lot of cars. Jackpot! We pulled over and could see people milling about in a field of tall grass, but not until we waded in did we start spotting all the flowers. It wasn't like they were carpeting the place. But in a way, it was more fun that we had to search them out, like Dora the Explorer. It was like a treasure hunt, and the treasure was captured with the camera. David and I kept hunching down to snap tiny little buds hidden under leaves, but the cutest part was how Jarrah began doing this almost immediately herself. I loved her intensity when she said "Mommy, I need to borrow your camera. I just saw some amazing lupines that have already bloomed." And you know what? The "amazing lupines" were actually lupines. Color me impressed.

Then someone had to go to the potty. Jarrah said she could stand to go, too. So we drove back into town.

Let's Buy Some DVDs! And Where Is My Lollypop?

We finally found a bathroom, but Jarrah didn't want to go because she saw a moth near the ceiling that was "trying to get [her.]" Later in the day I would be glad I packed her a change of clothes, but oh well. We walked into the world-famous Fudge Factory and there was a massive line and no lollypops. Oops. So we walked around the corner, and into The Daily Scoop, which had lots of ice cream and even more DVDs that looked like they had been rescued from 1982. It was like entering a very orderly time capsule. We stayed for a long time, watching outtakes from Young Frankenstein with another family, because Jarrah is pretty serious about ice cream. She spent nearly an hour licking her mint chip cone. At one point I turned around and a mom, grandma and daughter totally strange to me were saying "Cheers!" and "clinking" their cones against Jarrah's. Oo-kay.

Purple Mountains Majesty

We headed back out towards the foothills and turned right on Henderson Rd. I'm telling you this, Readers, in case you need to see for yourselves. Because it was pretty amazing. The afternoon light had gone all soft and fluffy and the hills were purpling. But the fields of orange daisies were bright waves in the breeze. We parked away from the crowd, but sometimes the crowd knows better. When we couldn't find an access point, I walked back up the road, enjoying the squish of sand beneath my feet, and David and Jarrah followed in the car. And even though David thought I was a bit nuts to FOLLOW the crowd, it turned out that the whole area had been cleared of weeds and you could skip right out into the flora, like a little lamb. We gamboled for quite some time amongst the verbena and chokecherries (I have a feeling we saw no actual chokecherries, but I like that word) and I took a bunch more photos, most of them blurry (I don't seem to understand the Macro mode.) But I felt so peaceful, and Jarrah was so happy--I know I'll remember it for a long time.

Poke Back?

David reminded me that sundown would come sooner because of the mountains, so we headed out of town. But we couldn't resist stopping a few miles away in a field with entirely different topography, blooming ocotillo (the tree-size, frondy ones with the red flowers) and different types of short, stubby cacti. The weeds were sparse here, and there were giant anthills everywhere (some of the ants hitched a ride in the car, and I ended up shaking out the mat by the side of the road, squealing.) My favorite find was a paddle-shaped cactus with the most incongruous hot-pink flowers bursting out of it. The result looked almost painful. Jarrah refused to get out of the car--she was afraid of getting "poked" by a cactus.

Why Is There No Dinner?

I felt terrible that so much of the winding way back was in the dark, and David was driving. Not that I would have felt better if I had been driving--I probably would have needed a Valium afterwards. I thought it would be all vacation-y if we stopped at the Viejas casino on the way back for dinner. But I am clearly a derelict parent because after we'd gone to the trouble of finding parking and schlepping our cold, tired selves towards the sparkling neon, a security guard informed us that no children are permitted after 8:00 p.m. What, no babies in the smoky casino in the middle of the night? What kind of operation are they running? Rest assured, Readers, we were just looking for the buffet, not to get Jarrah hooked on the rush of video poker. Back on the road.

What Does It Taste Like?

Our final stop was Tyler's Taste of Texas in El Cajon, which I'd heard was fun. It wasn't UNfun, certainly, and we got ridiculous amounts of food for cheap. Jarrah wolfed her buttermilk biscuit with lashings of honey in about 10 seconds, and then dispatched the eggs, sausage and hash browns pretty effectively, too. The best thing I had was a baked potato, but it was a good one. Did you know that there's this stuff called sour cream that is really good on baked potatoes? I just learned that. Back in the car, I said "Well, I think I know enough about Tyler's to last me."

I Dream Of Daisy With The Light-Brown Petals

I guess it's a little weird to go hunting for flowers, but you know, it didn't feel weird. It felt really good. And it made me very sentimental to see how mature Jarrah is, how she completely understood the point of the trip and really enjoyed herself and being with us. I guess I take for granted that she'd rather be with her friends (considering the first thing out of her mouth after "Where we going?" is always "Who's going to be there?") but she was very loving and enthusiastic all day. It was a great idea for all three of us to have cameras. And next time, we should have a guide book with flower varietals, and Jarrah can read it to us.

And Finally, Some Pics From The Jarrah-Eye View

I especially like the self-portrait and the sophisticated effects she created by placing a big ol' smudgy thumb print in the middle of her lens.


Stephanie said...

Very Cool, love all the photos too!

Jennifer said...

It looks like a fun trip! Your photos are amazing. Jarrah's are good too! Glad you had such a fun day!

Daniel said...

This is a very well written blog post and the photos are great, too. Your daughter is adorable!
We Borregans hope you come back soon, and maybe stay over night to take the edge off that drive...

Jen said...

Love the photo of you and Jarrah! So glad you were able to do this.


Anonymous said...

Great post, and I love Jarrah's photos.