We had just finished getting our things stuffed into one giant red duffel bag when I got a text saying our ride was here. My nephew and I grabbed our snacks, clothes and solar lights and stuffed them into my friend’s packed hatchback. Prepared for a short camping trip and some hiking, we embarked on a little journey across Southern California to visit the Anza Borrego Desert which had drawn a crowd from across the state. The desert was in full bloom with wildflowers in every color scattered across the desert plains, mountains and hills. The drought from the last several years was almost unrecognizable except for the occasional dead cacti. With my baseball cap on my head, sunscreen on my skin and my camera in hand – I was ready to go exploring.
“We truly haven’t had this sort of a bloom since 2005.”
The Anza Borrego Desert hasn’t seen a bloom like this in over a decade according to a director with the nature center. “What’s happened in the last four or five days is remarkable. We truly haven’t had this sort of a bloom since 2005. The desert has truly woken up,” said Kathy DeMunck (assistant director at the Anza Borrego Desert’s nature center), in an interview with National Geographic. While it was uncomfortable to be around so many people in such a remote location it made me aware of just how many of us, of every age, still cherish the little things like a field of flowers in the desert.
The visitors center was barely accessible with crowds everywhere and cars circling the driveways as a steady stream of people walked across the desert’s sandy sidewalks. I wasn’t a people person so I swiftly breezed through to get our map of the general region and flower identification photos. Unfortunately, the region didn’t show our nearby camp location and we didn’t have a connection to compare the map so we only referenced the brochures for the photos of flower varieties and went on our own way. It was sort of nice not having internet even though it ruined our GPS route and made navigating incredibly difficult. I suppose what’s the point of going exploring if not to get lost once in a while? The air smelt clean and relaxing, with a scent of flower blossoms and the recently wet gravel.
While on our trip I was reminded of the fragile ecosystem both with the conversations I was having with my friend and during my experience taking photos. I tried to avoid being too much of a nuisance to my surroundings and found routes where empty patches of earth were barren to walk on (and capture photos on as I wanted the field to look as untouched as it was before I arrived). Observing a single honey bee going from flower to flower and seeing the petals fall to the ground after it had landed was a reminder of how delicate and necessary every little plant is out here.
We headed back to the car, got ourselves some lunch and reflected on what we saw and learned that weekend. This trip reminded me not to take for granted what the changing seasons bring here and encouraged me to camp more often; be one with nature again and all that awful noise. Waking up for the sunrise to capture the morning glow reflected on the wildflowers was worth what little sleep I got. Every flower has a story, every storm brings the world a new chapter.
What a major difference the rain can bring; water truly is life in every way.