Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Campground from the overlookWhen we left Sacramento, we had just one reservation: 6 nights in Palm Canyon campground (click here to read our review from March, 2011) at Anza Borrego State Park.  While we have sampled various campsites in the Borrego Springs area (click here to read our review of Rockhouse Road boondocking and click here to read our review of Borrego Holiday Home Mobile Home and RV Park), the state park’s Palm Canyon campground, with spacious sites, full hookups, and out-the-door access to beautiful desert hiking, is our favorite place to set up our home.

We first visited Borrego Springs in February of 2008; since then, it has become a regular part of our winter travels.  As soon as we set up camp when we arrived on Saturday, we took off on a favorite hike in the area, the Palm Canyon loop… no drive to the trailhead required, it is an easy walk from the campground.  That set the tone for the days we have spent here – lots of hikes!

Sunrise colors the Anza-Borrego mountainsides.

Our curious neighbor (click photo to enlarge it).

Sunrise hits the mountains as Borrego Good morning!

And… lots of visiting.  Two of Odel’s co-workers make Borrego Springs their winter home.  On our second day here, Odel was out on the golf course with Ross and Dick.  Kay (Ross’s wife) and I joined the group for dinner that night, a reunion filled with laughter and recollections of their work together at California’s Resources Agency, the state parks division.  As I write this, Odel and Dick are back out on the golf course; I have plans for exploration in the Jeep later today (after I bake the last of my Christmas cookies).

Yesterday, we paid a visit to the Richard Dopp’s clay oven on Rockhouse Road.  We were boondocking on site when Richard built this little oven during our first visit to Borrego Springs (click here to read about the building of the oven, with photos) – it’s almost 4 years old now.  As Richard and Marlene left the Rockhouse Road site after building the oven, he worried that subsequent campers might destroy it but, as our visit yesterday showed, the opposite has happened: subsequent campers have maintained it well!  

Oven on Rockhouse RoadThe campsite is currently occupied by a first-time visitor to the area, a friendly Canadian (BC license plates) and his two lively dogs.  We explained why we were disturbing his privacy and found him interested in the history of the oven and information we were able to offer about the area (like which way the wind blows!).  He told us he has been similar ovens (larger) in British Columbia, build by Chinese immigrants in days long past, and we talked about the huge brick and clay ovens we’ve seen in use in Mexico. This little example, built using on-site materials, is part of a long line of illustrious ancestors.  :)

The oven has a fresh layer of cob, clay with a big helping of straw mixed in.  Richard, this photo is for you – and I know several other readers will be pleased to see this little icon of Rockhouse Road so well respected!  :)

I’ve got photos from our other hikes in the area – coming soon.


  1. We saw an oven just like that at Seminole Canyon State Park, TX..where the Chinese immigrants helped build the railroad that ran through the park...very interesting ! Love that your hike is just outside your door..that's what we liked about Hickiwan in Arizona..

  2. Thanks for the update. Sorry we won't be making it down for a reunion this year.

  3. One of my criteria for a top park is hikes right outside the door. This place sounds great. It's so nice when you find a favorite place you look forward to returning to.


  4. Love those hikes just outside the door, but...with Abby the state parks are sometimes off limits to us. We may have to drop down to Anza Borrego after our stay in Desert Hot Springs. I love the laid back vibe of that place. Love the oven story. I first started reading your blog back when you were there working on it.

  5. We boondocked near that oven in Nov '10, in fact I put a picture of it on our blog. Now we know how it got there!

  6. Having camped right beside that little Oven just off Rockhouse Road several times now it is always great to see photos of it. Right from the first time we visited Borrego Springs in late December of 07 it has been one of our all time favorite places and we have returned every year since. We just may be there again some time in late January......

  7. We were that way two years ago. We didn't visit the Anza Borrego State Park or Palm Canyon. Our list for that area is growing. Interesting story about the Chinese. Small world.

  8. I love Borrego and the hiking, we had to miss it this year so it was good to see the pictures

  9. what a fine looking neighbour you have!!..I would venture to guess he is not all that nosy just a wee bit curious?

  10. I remember reading about the oven as you built it.....4 YEARS AGO! How time flies! We were just planning our Full-time adventure in those days.

    Thanks for the update. Nice to see the oven has survived and is well taken care of.

  11. How great that the little oven is still there!!! Glad your having fun and getting to meet up with friends.
    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year