Photograph from July 18th, 2009. Captured at the San Diego Gay Pride Parade.
So the term "high desert" colloquially refers to an area of Southern California sort of near/in the Mojave Desert. You may be somewhat familiar with this region if you've ever made the long and unfortunate drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles with traffic not in your favor. Well, good news! That's not the "high desert" I'm referring to. Instead, I'm talking about San Diego's own quirk of nature near the county's eastern boundary, which manifests itself in the form of a merger between desert fauna and mountain climates.
Drive a bit north (or south) from Julian, California along the mountain range that flanks the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and you'll come across a region where the plant life doesn't make much sense. At an elevation of over 5,000 feet along the Sunrise Highway, you'll inevitably encounter a variety of cactus and succulent plants before reaching the Laguna Mountains, despite the fact that the temperature at these heights remains rather chilly throughout the year. In the other direction, towards the small town of Ranchita, endless fields of meadows turn into cacti and rock as you begin a descent down towards the valley floor and into Borrego Springs. A few nights back, I finally got a chance to inaugurate my "new" (aka, 1998 used) Subaru Outback for its first off-road adventure under my ownership, and to shoot some long exposure night photos for the first time in months.
Truthfully, I love the vast wilderness that one encounters up here. Well, not 'wilderness' in the traditional sense, as much of it is either tamed or under private ownership. Still, it feels like you're in another world when compared to the hectic urban world only a short drive westward. Parts of this narrow region appear straight out of the Midwest, with cattle grazing in fields and old-fashioned windmills still pumping water. Other parts look like something you'd expect in a European countryside, while a quick jaunt to the east down the mountain brings you straight into a Middle Eastern aesthetic. The more I'm out here, the more I feel like a country boy at heart. Or at the very least, a transcendentalist explorer of sorts.
Next week, I'm planning on spending a good solid six days or so up in the mountains even further north of this area. It'll be good to take a (long overdue) break, and hopefully take some interesting photos in the process. That photo-explorer spirit is burning inside me once again, and I plan on taking advantage of it as best I can.
You can find more long exposure photos in my (much-in-need-of-updating) night portfolio here.