HERE THERE BE DRAGONS AND DRAMA

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Have you ever felt misunderstood?

Like nobody really gets you and maybe the things you enjoy are so far out of the “norm” that you begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with you?  

That’s how I feel every time I ask advice from a docent in  a visitor center.

Today my throat is worse so we’re sticking close to home and driving a short distance to Borrego Springs. One of the things I really wanted to see on this trip were the sculptures in Galleta Meadows Estate,  particularly the dragon. The lady at our camp office told me there are over 130 sculptures. 

We figured we’d also stop at the Anza Borrego State Park Visitor Center for some tips while we were there.

Borrego Springs is about a 20 mile drive from our campground.  After about 15 miles we started seeing sculptures of horses and animals cavorting across the landscape.

It’s quite a sight!

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This is a link to a good article in Desert USA about the sculptures and the plan for them. There are places to pull over for each and every one but I just didn’t have the strength to do it.

The town of  Borrego Springs is very small and it radiates out from a central plaza called Christmas Circle. It’s a lovely green space with a stage and bathrooms. They have a farmers market and activities there all the time.  We stopped to browse and refresh ourselves and take advantage of the free wifi in the park.

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It was a little confusing finding our way out of the circle and onto the road to the visitor center. The signs are difficult to see and it’s easy to get turned around until you get used to it.  

We finally found the visitor center parking lot but there was no building. We followed a sign and walked down a little hill and there, underneath, built into the side of the mountain was the building. It’s a really neat design.

The museum had some interesting displays and information and I know I looked at them, but I just could not concentrate, my throat was feeling worse and worse and I don’t remember a thing I saw.

I was determined to enjoy the day and use the time at the center to plan the rest of our trip so I approached a docent at the counter to inquire about some sightseeing.

Here’s where it gets frustrating. Most docents are volunteers and few know anything beyond the popular hikes and sights. I’m always looking to find something different, something that only the locals know about.

I  tried to explain that we’re well equipped, advanced off-roaders. He recommended Coyote Canyon as a “must see,” advanced 4-wheel road, with three water crossings.

I have my doubts.

Meanwhile he did tell us where to find the dragon and other sculptures.

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I think it’s a good likeness!

There are so many to see! Miners, wild pigs, farm workers, a giant scorpion, animals and dinosaurs of all kinds. I wish I felt better but I just couldn’t convince myself to get out of the car much.

The 300 foot dragon is the best though.

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The tail extends across the road and you drive between the humps.

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The detail is amazing!

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After taking pictures I felt a little more energized so we decided to try Coyote Canyon. It was nearby and seemed fairly short.  The docent told us that we should have no problem with the first and second water crossings, but we would probably have to stop after the third water crossing because the road is very difficult and you must be an advanced driver to handle it. (Remember we told him we were extremely well equipped, advanced off-roaders looking for adventure and no crowds.)

This is Coyote Canyon Road.

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Pretty smooth so far.

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The road winds through a scenic plateau full of green and flowering ocotillo, jumping cholla and other cactus.

Water crossing one and two were no problem. Water crossing three required driving up the stream bed for a short distance. It might have been a little tricky if there had been more water but nothing to write home about. After the third crossing we came to the BIG obstacle that the docent said required advanced driving skill.

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It’s a short but steep rocky hill that looks worse than it is. This is the biggest rock on the trail. It was a piece of cake to go up.  

We passed a lot of mountain bikers and hikers walking up it.

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At the top, the view opens up onto a plateau surrounded on all sides by rocky mountains. It’s very pretty and feels very protected but it’s basically more of the same. The road makes a big loop around the plateau and leads to some campgrounds tucked away in the corners.

Lots of hikers and campers.

We drove out to the end of the furthest road. This is a view looking back toward Borrego Springs in the distance.

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At this point I’m feeling tired and a little disillusioned by the Anza Borrego State Park. This area was easy, well-traveled and unremarkable and everything I said we weren’t interested in.  I’m thinking it’s not at all what I envisioned and I’m pretty much over it even though I know it’s mostly because I feel so crummy.

Back down the hill we go.

Jeff had aired down the tires for this “difficult” drive so we stopped at the base of the mountain to air back up where I got a nice view of the moon.

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I decided to wander around while he was working on the Jeep and noticed a mysterious flat-topped hill of dirt, piled off to the side of an adjacent road. I walked over for a closer look.

There were signs all around which said something like “Hawk Watch.” The signs had descriptions of  the different types of hawks in the area and how to recognize them.

I’m still not sure why they need a flat-topped hill of dirt. Can’t you see hawks from ground level?

By this time, I can’t ignore the excruciating pain in my throat any longer.

I HAVE to go to the doctor.

In fact, once I decide to go it’s all I can think about. It’s about 4 pm on Friday night and I’m frantic to find an Urgent Care. There’s a listing for Borrego Medical Clinic (which I think is privately owned) on Yaqui Pass Road, not too far away so we hurry over and make it just in time (about 4:45 ish)

WARNING RANT AHEAD! 

Thankfully there was no one in the waiting room when we got there and I was able to go straight to the nurse and explain my problem. The nurse talked to the doctor and then asked for my insurance card.

So far so good, things are moving right along.

UNTIL my insurance will not cover the visit.

The nurse assures me that it’s not a problem, I can just pay out-of-pocket.

So I ask her “How much is the visit?”

At this point I’d give them my first-born child and I’m ready to agree to anything. My clinic at home would charge no more than 60 to 100 dollars. She says she can’t tell me how much until I’m seen by the doctor. She can’t even give an estimate.

Jeff says “Well then they can charge whatever they want, that’s scary.” I’m still feeling like I don’t care what it costs when the nurse asks me “So did you want to be seen, or would you like to make an appointment for Monday?”

 WHAT????!!!!  Are you kidding me? Did you not hear me say I’m in excruciating pain and that I’m here from out-of-town and need to see a doctor? What makes you think I want to wait until Monday?  

Jeff is still asking what they’re going to charge and they still won’t tell us, so at this point I said “Give me my card back and forget it.”

The nurse offers to give me the address of two other clinics which are both over an hour away. One is in Indio which is an hour and a half and the other is in Brawley which is only an hour. The last thing I want to do is drive an hour to Brawley at 5:00 pm on a Friday but the listing is for Pioneers Memorial Hospital so we figure it’ll be open.

The drive was’t too bad, just the thought that, “In a few hours I’ll have antibiotic and the pain will go away” spurred me on.

Until we arrived that is…

It turns out that Pioneers Memorial Hospital is a small hospital with a tiny emergency room which caters primarily to migrant farm workers.  I was still hoping that they could help me as we approached the entrance.

The closer we got, the less hope I had. Outside was a man sitting on a rock crying and clutching himself. Inside the doors we entered the third level of Hell.

The waiting room was miniscule, people sitting, standing and hunched into every corner and crevice. On one side a nurse was trying to triage patients at little table against the wall while hospital workers milled around in the hallway chit chatting.

Still determined to find a solution I sat down at the reception window and explained my situation to the receptionist. I told her that the other clinic said I might find help here. The young woman lowered her clumpy, false eyelashes, sneered at me and said “WELL THIS IS AN EMERGENCY ROOM NOT AN URGENT CARE.  

I’m thinking, “REALLY? IS THAT WHY THE SIGN OUT FRONT SAYS EMERGENCY ROOM?”

Despite the dismal surroundings and still hoping against hope, I asked if there were any Urgent Care clinics nearby. The other receptionist mumbled something about the Dollar Tree down the street. She thought there might be something there.

If I didn’t feel so bad, I’d laugh.

Back on the road and driving slowly through downtown Brawley we find nothing. On our second pass we see a building that might be a medical clinic of some sort but it’s no Urgent Care and it’s closed anyway.

I’m hungry and tired and I give up.

We stopped for some food at Del Taco and drove back toward the RV park, but there’s another problem. On the way into Brawley we passed through the border patrol check-point and now we have to go back through.

It’s about 8:30 PM. I’m sick and I’m tired.

We approach the stop sign where the border agent is waiting.

He leans in the window and barks like a drill sergeant,  

“IN WHAT CITY WERE YOU BORN SIR?”

Jeff answers San Bernardino.

 I’m not paying attention and I’m ready to be on my way when he barks at me,

“WHAT CITY  MA’AM?”

……..and I can’t remember where I was born…SIGH…

To be continued…

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