Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Back to Borrego! (Brown tsunami warning!)

We were rapidly becoming much too acquainted with most of the rodent population at Sawtooth Canyon.  They seemed to have identified an easy entry point, so every evening the ritual was to empty the traps at about bedtime.  Live captures would get relocated down the campground road, non-live captures not so much.  This was OK as long as it was only small mice, as they could only access a trap filled area under the sink, but when a kangaroo rat tried to move in, it was much too noisy and potentially destructive.  Plus, I did not have any traps large enough to handle such an intruder.

It was time to move, if just to escape the invaders!  First stops along the way were to stock up on varmint control equipment.  We got larger traps, spray deterrents, lighted ropes, expanding foam sealant, and anything else we could think of to stop the assault.

I was still getting over the remnants of my first cold in 5 years, so instead of stopping to visit friends in Desert Hot Springs and area, we decided that some isolated desert time was in order.  So, on to Borrego Springs it was.  Besides, Hailey was a little under the weather as well, perhaps as a result of the non-stop mouse invasions?


As all Borrego Rv’ers seem to know, the Arco station at the corner of 78 and S22 is a great place to get fuel, propane, and of course dump and fill.  It has always been free dumping there, with the exception of an abandoned $8. charge a few years ago.  So I was somewhat surprised and disappointed to get there and find new automated, solar powered, credit card readers with a $10 price tag ;-(.  I did need to dump, so reluctantly scanned my card and got absolutely NO reaction from the machine, and the dump was still securely locked.  Made the long walk back to the store and stood in a long ‘slushie’ line for 5 minutes before explaining my predicament.  I was told that this was a brand new system that had only just been installed the previous day!  The nice clerk then charged me $5. (!), and gave me the ‘secret code’ that would allow me to dump.  Entering the code worked fine, the pit opened and I was soon able to yank the black handle and let fly.  Well, good thing I have quick reactions as there was an almost instant ‘brown tsunami’ that came bubbling out of the hole threatening to overwhelm my footwear!  Well, I slammed the valve shut again, and by carefully limiting the flow, was able to get everything to go down the drain.  That is, of course, till I turned around to see everything I had eaten and flushed for the last 3 weeks bubbling out of an adjacent dump site and flowing across the paved parking lot towards the gas pumps!  Nice. Very nice! 

After informing management of my exciting close call, they advised that it must be plugged!  NO kidding?  I also advised them that their new solar panels wouldn’t last a week where they were as they would be torn off by any RV trying to get close to the dump site.  I think this proves my theory.  I like FREE things.  Whenever I pay is when things go very wrong.  I know I should have taken some photos, but – you know how it is  …?

Anyway, now well behind schedule we continued on towards Borrego Springs.  I knew that my usual spot down Rock house Rd would be available, but with the several km of dusty washboard, and my new reliance on a strong AT&T signal in mind we searched out a new spot the Bayfield Bunch checked out last year, and found it much closer to the pavement, and with a really fast signal available.


Didn’t bother putting out the slides the first night after arriving late, but was pleased to see no new invaders targeting us.  The next day the slides were out and still no new visitors in spite of lots of signs of wildlife outside.  I sort of wanted to test each of my deterrents individually, so I could tell if they actually worked in real life situations.  But after a couple of nights of no trespassers, I couldn’t resist going crazy with a new can of high expansion foam!  I did find a spot that may have been the mouse freeway on-ramp, so tried to make it as inhospitable as possible.  Now, a week later, nothing has gotten inside, so the new traps, two types of spray deterrent, and the rope lights have gone unused.

Cheapest diesel around appears to be at the Red Earth Casino, so we toured back out there one day to top off the tanks.  While there, we were inundated with some sort of small flies that would accumulate on your windshield or hood any time you stopped. Even though they had just arrived, most seemed half dead already.  I was glad to get back to Borrego and away from this pest.  I suspect they were hatching on the Salton Sea?


Even though the cell signal was very good where I was camped, I was also sharing the tower with the thousands of ATV’ers and campers who descended on Ocotillo Wells area for the Thanksgiving weekend.  So during the day during this time, even my slow satellite internet was a faster option.  With the crowds now long gone, my speed is great day and night! 

There is wildlife in the area, including this rather large fellow.  While most of the tiny lizards are very fast movers, this guy was in slow motion.


Because of all the cholla cactus in the area, Hailey has been restrained by her leash here, and when she spotted this slow mover I had to hold her back or she would have had him for sure.  I like to give the local wildlife a sporting chance at least.


It was pretty much too hot to hike for a few days there, but off in the distance I could see some sort of installation on a ridge top.  Eventually, I was able to drive/hike into the area and found this USGS sensor.  Not sure of it’s purpose, but I suspect it is seismic in nature.


After the heat moderated, the winds came up!  The rig had been rocking all night, but a strong broadside gust as I was making morning coffee blew us right off the blocks!  That has never happened before!  Some water jugs provided some temporary support.


In hindsight, I often place a single 4x4 post under the hitch to support it, so this starts to act like a fulcrum when the wind blows, and lets the rig rotate on its wheels.  After getting things back on the blocks, I hooked up the truck as a solid anchor till the winds died down.

With the hottest days behind us, I didn’t have to worry about leaving Hailey in the trailer during the day, so a day trip to San Diego was in order.  She could have come along, but I know she doesn’t enjoy the miles of tight curves and switchbacks, especially returning in the dark.  We learned that the hard way a couple years ago.


Frys Electronics is always the first stop.  After that, it was a walk on the beach, and touring around the city a bit.IMG_9134IMG_9133IMG_9126IMG_9124IMG_9123


Sunrise, back in camp in Borrego.



  1. Wow! What a rodent village you were in! Strange that after all these years the critters found their way in. Hopefully you got the access blocked.
    We're noticing too that things that used to be free are now charged for. I don't mind a small reasonable charge, but if we feel gouged we'll not even stop, so any other sales (diesel, food, drinks) they could have made won't happen.
    Glad you made it to San Diego. Nice change from the desert.
    We're still near Mesa for a while. Will be until we finally get organized. See you soon!

  2. $10 is not so bad the guy at the Shell on 22 north of Cochrane told me once that it was fifty dollars there. So I told him that the motorhome I was driving luckily only needed 350 litres at $1.10 a litre but the tank held 400 and that other 50 would get me to a more accomodating spot.

  3. What you need to do with the rodents is be more Social. Before allowed to enter offer them a snack of Peanut Butter on a wheel over a bucket of water. Add a ramp to give them easier access and it will be a real splash.
    Getting the LTVA Sticker for seven months for only $180.00 gives you a place to Dump out, get fresh water, toss you trash and allows you to move around California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah all on the same permit so you can still keep the wheels rolling if you want.
    We were broadsided by a couple of 61 MPH gusts last spring but we never moved.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. My preference is only to deal with the trespassers, and not the general population, and once inside, I even offer them the choice of a snap trap or a live trap. If they choose the live trap they get to make new and better decisions next time! The LTVA permit is not a bad deal, but I just haven't found (m)any of their areas that I would like to stay at for more than a few days. But it could happen some day. Last year, I spent $34 for winter camping fees, the year before that it was $9. So far this year $0. for camping, but I'm up to $5. on the dump fee. And I should have asked for a refund after seeing the result!

  4. Well that's too bad about that ten dollar charge but the fact that they went to all the trouble and expense of installing the equipment and then nobody thought to have the tanks pumped is very scary. Obviously they have a management problem there!! In that Borrego spot we too were worried about all that dead cholla and especially for Pheebs but she instinctively knew what it was and never picked up one sticker the whole time we were there. I wonder if the Texas Dip had something to do with those strong wind gusts funneling up. I should get you to draw me a map sometime from Borrego to the ocean in San Diego with the least amount of traffic congestion along the way. Ya, know what you mean by having quick reflex's when it comes to dumping the black tank. I too have been called upon to use my fast reflex's in the same predicament.

    1. I suspect they are on 'town' sewer there as all the other dump lanes seemed to be working fine. Someone perhaps didn't like the new fee and stuffed a week's worth of used diapers down the system? I don't think there is a 'good' way to get to San Diego from Borrego. I left early in the morning and had very light traffic on
      78 and 79 through Julian, Ramona, Poway, then got on I-15. On the way back I chose I-8 east to 79, then north through Cuyamaca SP to Julian. Traffic was light again, but those roads have more twists than a tangled snake and there is just no avoiding them. I don't recall the Warner Springs route being any better. Just glad I didn't have to be on those roads when it was bumper-to bumper with toy haulers headed home after the long weekend!

  5. LOL - there's no easy way Borrego <-> SandyEggo during the week. Easier via Ramona on a Saturday or early Sunday. The winds can be Biblical, but have not heard of a rig being blown off their blocks before! Glad nothing was damaged. Nice sunrise pictures.

  6. Had to chuckle on your brown tsunami story. The ONLY time that has ever happened to us in 8 years of dumping was at that exact same Arco station coming out of Borrego Springs. They must get plugged up fairly regularly? Miss those desert sunsets!


  7. That is too bad about the Charge for dumping at the Arco, Good thing you had quick reflexes to stop and even larger mess. Enjoy your time there and hop you stopped the critter invasion.