agua caliente.

Although I am currently thousands of miles away in Thailand, I keep thinking of what an important transition it is in my life when summer turns to fall, and the desert, off limits due to the heat of summer for so many months, once again welcomes us to explore.

Though I frequently espouse the beauty and grandeur of the big-ticket destinations like J-Tree and Anza-Borrego, there are countless other unsung places that will welcome your thirst for adventure or solitude.

A more obscure region that will take a little more effort to access is Agua Caliente.  Part of the San Diego County Parks system, it’s on the fringe of Anza-Borrego, out the Butterfield Stage Route along S2, and has hot springs to make the arduous journey worth your while.  Stock up before the drive –  it’s a desolate road.  Spend the weekend, hike the trails, or tackle them on mountain bike, and be sure to soak in the pools.  Discover the desolation and enjoy the millions of stars at night.  Now you are initiated into desert life.

Oh, and they now have cabins if camping isn’t your thing.

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trail of 100 giants.

Our National Monuments are in need of love right now (read this if you don’t know why).  And with summer coming along, the mountains are awaiting your roadtripping escapades.  My recommendation for this summer is to visit Giant Sequoia National Monument and the Trail of 100 Giants.  It’s one of the most impressive sequoia groves you’ll ever see.  And what’s truly wonderful is that you can stay right on the edge of it in a yurt at Redwood Meadow campground.  Reserve in advance.  Thank me later.

monuments.

I spent a season long ago as a botanist on the Carrizo Plain, one of the coolest landscapes I have ever encountered, so I was a bit dismayed this week that it’s National Monument status might be up for revision by the new presidential administration.  Then I read that Patagonia (yes, the retailer) was standing up to the attack on monuments (read about it here).  It brought to mind one of the most significant and impacting films I have seen about adventure and the environment, 180° South.