Yesterday I had planned to visit the Joshua Tree National Park but that didn’t quite work out. Instead, I did a huge circle taking in the Mount Palomar Observatory and the Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park, then passing the Salton Sea, Palm Springs and returning to Irvine via more desert / mountain scenery.
Because the final stretch of road to the observatory, that climbs 5,000 feet in a long series of hairpin bends, was built to transport the 200 inch mirror for the telescope, it has a good surface and perfect camber. And speed racers love it!
A mad biker
Another mad biker, in close-up
It may not look it from the photos, but these guys are screaming round this bend – an accident black-spot.
The observatory was a slight disappointment. The dome is impressive and the setting marvelous but the public viewing of the instrument (at 200″ the mirror was huge when completed in 1948) is very limited.
The Hale telescope instrument bay
After Palomar, the landscape started to dry out. Lake Henshaw was the last open water I saw until the Salton Sea.
Badlands near the Salton Sea
I love the desert, but to experience it you need to walk into it, get far from roads and people, and feel the isolation and the heat as it sucks you dry. Driving through, with cars, people and roads – which is all I had time for, is just not the same. Landscapes are hard – you need the time and patience to find a location and wait for the right light, and I had neither. So, I took endless shots of parched, blasted landscapes, but they are boring and could be anywhere.
I did wander slightly from the road (about 100 yards!) to find some of the local flora.
Yucca and rocks
More cactii on a rocky slope