Borrego Springs
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  1. The average temperature in July is 107.
  2. To paraphrase what Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, there is no there there — no people (population: about 3000), no movie theater, no stoplight, no convenience store, no hospital, no home mail delivery, no McDonald’s. And not only are these things not there, but it’s a 50-mile ride over rough roads (to Brawley or Ramona) before you can get to them. This distance can prove daunting if you, for example, run out of cigarettes late at night.
  3. Flood insurance is mandatory. Borrego Springs is built on top of several drainage systems running out of the San Ysidro Mountains to the west of town, notably the one that drains Hellhole Canyon. My house, like most of the others in Borrego Springs, is built in the 50-year floodplain. People visiting the area usually laugh when they hear that I’m required to own flood insurance, but they wouldn’t have been chuckling if they had been here during the ’70s, when Borrego experienced two 50-year floods within a single 3-year period, one of which nearly wiped out the De Anza Country Club.
  4. Earthquake insurance isn’t mandatory (because insurance companies don’t want to issue policies), but it should be because Borrego Springs is located smack-dab in the middle of one of the most active and violent fault systems in the world. Thirty miles east of town, the San Andreas Fault and its relatives have down-dropped the structural depression around the Salton Sea some 20,000 feet (that’s four times deeper than the Grand Canyon, to put this in perspective); 30 miles north of town, the San Jacinto Fault system (California’s most active and violent) has raised the awesome, mind-boggling Santa Rosa Mountains over a mile above sea level. That’s a 5H-mile total displacement in less than 50 miles. You figure it out.
  5. Temperatures in Borrego Springs peaked this year over a two-day period in July at 119 and 118 — slightly above normal for summer highs, but high enough to render the “Yes, but it’s a dry heat” phrase irrelevant.
  6. To get to Borrego Springs from San Diego normally requires a drive along S-22, which abruptly drops farther (nearly a vertical mile) faster (in less than 10 miles) than any other major roadway in America.
  7. The average temperature in July is 107.
  8. Cats, small dogs, and toddlers don’t last long here (the howl of coyotes can be heard almost every night from my deck). However, my wife and I have discovered that the enormous scorpions who regularly show up in our house make wonderful pets (you can keep them inside an aquarium). Did you know that scorpions are from the same family as spiders? That mother scorpions bear their young live? That they can live up to 20 years? That they glow in the dark?
  9. My house has actually declined in value since I bought it a decade ago.
  10. The average temperature in July is 107.

Fifteen years after moving to San Diego County, my wife and I first drove down over the San Ysidro Mountains into the Borrego Valley in July 1990. We have been full-time residents of Borrego Springs ever since.

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