Bighorn and Stink Bugs

Is it a weakness: a desperate attempt to return to simpler times, the womb even; or is it a strength: a re-injection of the events and places which made me who I am today? Still, isn’t it interesting to realize that over 75 years of lifetime experience is typically represented by a handful of memories. Some good. Some you might want to forget.

I was scanning the streaming movie services and noticed a recent film called Borrego. Although it certainly might have been about sheep, I envisioned that it was about one of my favorite memories: Borrego Palm Canyon.

When I was young, the three mile hike through the Palm Canyon to the oasis was a reoccurring adventure. On many occasions my father took the family out to the Anza-Borrego desert, sometimes hiking up the canyon, other times investigating the many small enclaves of sun lovers and hot springs. On occasion we would go as far as El Centro and even north to the Salton Sea.

The Palm Canyon hike was a common event where I grew up. It was my first outing in the Cub Scouts and was repeated for other groups such as affiliated with church or school. Many years later I took my eventual wife out of the wilds of New Jersey and treated her to the heat and exertion of Borrego. The best part was her fascination with the stink bugs we encountered on the path. One of the common little things I had forgotten.

Unfortunately, a fire started by a juvenile partially destroyed the amazing grove of palm trees that had greeted the weary hiker when the spring was finally reached. Good news, though: the park has reopened and the palm trees are showing green at the top of their charred tree trunks.

If you are interested in the movie Borrego, it’s a competent collection of tired themes and clichés punctuated by wooden acting and inescapable tedium. It did do a good job of reminding me of the Anza-Borrego desert but sadly was actually filmed in Spain.


When my father attended college he had an assignment, in what I would consider independent studies, to identify and map out the many under-appreciated or unknown parts of San Diego county. Remember, San Diego county originally stretched all the way to the Arizona border so his inclusion of some sites in Imperial County have historical support.

The result of his study was a hand-written booklet tied together with an old shoestring. I only saw the booklet once. It had a page for each adventure and even showed a crude, hand-drawn map of the area concerned. But the real result of this assignment was a dad who took the family for a drive every Sunday, and who tended to turn onto a deserted and unpaved road just to see where it went. Curiosity, on more than one occasion, had our old station wagon dangling on the steep side of the mountain with mule deer and chipmunks betting we wouldn’t make it.

To quote Doctor Emmett Brown: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

3 thoughts on “Bighorn and Stink Bugs

  1. That is inreresting Mike. I think 16 years at sea made my dad apprecuate the calm, green of Dartmoor and the woodlands bordering it. He was on frigates during the war and would run around the edge of the deck for exercise. I was a gunnery Chief Petty Office. For some holidays, mainly Hogmanay we went to see my dad’s mother in Edinburgh, and he would show us the sights and go walking along the Firth of Forth. Vancouver Island must have been amazing. My hubby lived in Canada for 5 years when his dad had a five year contract to fix Canadian mining equipment , dump trucks , grabs etc.

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  2. A lovely, nostalgic post. I had a father who although an ex-sailor was a great walker. However, wet, warm Devon has no deserts, so we walked on Dartmoor and in local woodland. I’d love to have a desert to walk, but England is green and has it’s own beauty. Many English explorers have an obsession with desert lands, Doughty, T.E Lawrence and many others.

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    1. Here’s an interesting contrast: our big family vacations were often extended tours of northern California, specifically in the Gold Rush territory. (I was lucky to have seen and experienced much of this historical area which now being bulldozed and turned into condos and tourist traps.) What was interesting, as confessed to me many years later, was that my dad was enamored with all that green. The desert is not green; mountains and northern valleys are. After my folks retired they bought a van and spent a lot of time touring even further north in the Pacific Northwest. My mother told me Vancouver Island was their favorite place. Green, very green.

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