Staying true to tradition, I would like to share our Top 5 San Diego Adventures of 2014! These are not necessarily the most thrill-seeking or dangerous, just the most memorable of the year:
1. Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves
The mud caves had been on my radar for quite some time, but it’s the kind of place that should only be visited in cool weather and when there is no recent or pending rainfall. Those conditions were met one early spring weekend and so we headed out to the wondrous Anza Borrego desert. We arrived at sunset and it felt as if we had landed on another planet. Once the sun was completely down it enhanced the sensation of clear stars combined with absolute silence. The stunning ancient mounds held the promise of untold secrets.
Making our camp here became a truly memorable and unique experience. The boys had a beat-box and flute jam session inside one of the caves during candlelight, while I watched and filmed. The night was cold and windy but that didn’t stop us from exploring what truly felt like Mars or some other desert planet. Within the silence and solitude we were aware of the presence of mysticism and spirituality. After all, these caves have been around for millions of years, and spent many of those years under sea!
We started the next day with a delicious cook-off which should be part of every camping trip in my opinion. I’m a firm believer that the best experiences touch on all senses! Once we were nourished we began exploring. I will let the page speak for the caves mostly as I have already posted about them in detail. I will just say that if you do head out here, be safe, be overly-prepared for any type of scenario that can happen in the desert and be respectful of this land, leaving it for others as you found it.
2. Institute of Perception
Like many of the best adventures, we stumbled upon this spot by sheer accident. It started with us exploring the Carrizo Gorge Railyard and noticing a white pyramid in the distance. Getting to that pyramid became an immediate goal.
On our trek we began noticing many strange and interesting things such as what appeared to be an outdoor bath house and a labyrinth. That was when we noticed a lady’s purse, just sitting out in the middle of the desert. Where is the owner? We called out for anyone but nobody answered.
We decided to head up to the pyramid to see if the owner of the purse was perhaps inside. Besides, it gave us a better reason to head up there. ;) When we arrived we could hear muffled voices inside the pyramid. After a small debate on whether or not to knock, I decided to knock on the door. No answer. About 5 minutes later we heard a male's voice echoed by a female asking multiple questions about us. After they deemed us safe we were asked if we wanted to come inside. Of course we did!
They opened the doors and let us in. There were 4 people total, making 2 couples. There was immediately a shift in energy and it was obvious that we were amongst enlightened beings. We told them about the purse, which ended up being one of the lady's, and she told us graciously that her purse brought us to them. We were asked by one of the men if any of us had a problem with claustrophobia or being locked inside. Our friend immediately raised her hand and said "Yes! I do!" He said, "Good, perfect, you will lay in the middle". He then locked us in. We were instructed to lay on a painted, stone slab & told to put our belongings at the base of our heads in these holes to not disturb the energy flow. This is when it gets interesting.
We laid down, and above us was a skylight. He tells us to stare at the sky and to not take our eyes off it. They begin circling us, shaking water bottles, and gliding what I believe were sticks along the pyramid, creating a textured metal-sound. They begin to walk faster and faster around us. A million thoughts that will remain private were going through our heads. We were then told to close our eyes and they continued circling us. Once it was finished we were told that that was their gift to us and that it was to heighten our senses. They felt we had been brought to them and that we arrived at the perfect time. Any later and we probably would not have been welcomed inside.
3. Warlock Mine
I have not done much mine exploring (yet) because there have been too many other places to explore and mines are obviously dangerous. So mines had been put on the backburner--until now. We took this hike in January, when the weather is cool. I feel this is a great time to do longer hikes without worrying about dying from heat exhaustion! The hike is a little over 5 miles round trip so expect to get a bit of exercise! If you keep your eyes peeled you will come across a few smaller mines along the way too. The other mine we found (Golden Gem Mine) did not look safe to enter AT ALL, so we were smart and stayed out. The exterior looked like it was ready to collapse. I've been told that it opens up inside but I didn't want to take any risks.
The Warlock Mine is up on a small hill across from the old mill. You'll have to look around a little but that is part of the adventure! Look out for worn ground and that may be your path. This mine had multiple rooms and went pretty far back. It definitely satisfied my adventurous palate for the day!
I felt like we were in an Indiana Jones movie! I was waiting for the large boulder to come rolling towards us. :P We had a run in with a bat at the end, flying back in forth in front of our exit, making me freak out a bit. I am not wanting to get attacked by a bat! That's all part of the game though. Bats like mines and you very likely will run into some. Just stay calm!
4. Jacob’s Cave
This spot made it onto the list because of the journey, not the destination. What seemed like a mere 10 minute hike ended up being a 1 hour hike, with us blindingly attempting to track what we had seen from the highway through brush and no trail. We did not prepare correctly for this trip and had no water for the hike back. It was just grueling. But lo and behold, we found a cave that is said to date back to the Kumeyaay days and was used for shelter. We found a much easier way back, so who knows, maybe we’ll journey back another day and have a picnic!