Our annual Thanksgiving tradition is to spend Thanksgiving with our family and then head out to Anza Borrego the following day for a couple days of desert fun. This year turned out to be one of the more memorable trips we have had, so sit back and I will try to explain what transpired.
Friday morning found Mary and I heading out to Carrizo Gorge to meet Jan, Gina and crew at one of our favorite campsites. Jan had left the night before to get the Imu Pit ready. Imu Pit ? you ask. Well yes, this year after 5 successful years of grilled turkey perfection we opted to try the Polynesian method of cooking the turkey in a pit in the ground. The process itself is a bit more complex and requires banana leaves, burlap sacks, chicken wire and 4 or five hours of patience.
When we arrived Jan informed us that our preferred campsite was occupied. We were a bit disappointed, but our group had set up camp a little ways down the canyon which was fine. We quickly prepped the turkey which meant, wrapping it in the banana leaves, covering it with chicken wire, and placing it in the pit underneath the wet burlap sacks. Plywood was placed over the pit and dirt shoveled over everything to keep in the heat. We even brought one of those fancy turkey thermometers with a remote so we could monitor the temperature sitting comfortably sipping refreshments.
As with the grilling method, the "Imu Pit" method also requires a lot of waiting. We passed the time playing bocci ball, harassing tarantulas and munching on some awesome grilled tacos prepared by Steve and Kat.
After 4 hours, numerous games of bocci ball and the occasional adult beverage the turkey thermometer hit 160' . With great anticipation we pulled the concoction out of the pit and begin to unwrap it. What we saw laying between the banana leaves was something I won't soon forget. Instead of a grilled brown turkey, our bird looked whiter than when it had gone into the pit. As was eloquently put by one of the members of our group, "It looks like a white, wrinkled baby butt !".
Seems there is a reason you won't find many references to an Imu Pit turkey on Google. The traditional Imu Pit method relies on steam created by the coals and held in by the various layers of leaves. While this works for a pig, it proved to be ineffective on our two turkeys.
Funny thing is that I think the turkey was actually cooked at this point but the ghost white appearance was hard to get past. We quickly threw it on a grill and charred it.
The next morning we were woken up by some strong gusts of wind and light rain. Let me clarify; the wind was strong enough to blow my new REI sleeping bag out of the rooftop tent and alight it perfectly on top of the lit Coleman stove which resulted in a flaming explosion of down feathers. The resulting mess ended any hopes of a mornng cup of coffee. It was at this point we decided to cut our losses, finish packing up the Landcruisers and say our goodbyes.
Mary and I had originally planned a trip to the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves but the rainy weather thwarted our plans. Instead we pointed the Landcruiser north towards Borrego Spring. Our destination was the "creature desert" just outside of Borrego Springs. Thunderstorms punctuated by periods of sun created an amazing display of rainbows along the S2.
We dropped down the S3 into Borrego Springs wondering how we were ever going to find the sculptures, when suddenly off to our right we spotted what looked like a prehistoric mammoth! We quickly pulled the LandCruiser off the road and grabbed our camera....
The Creature Desert
The creature desert is the creation of sculptor Ricardo Breceda who was commissioned by Dennis Avery of Avery lables fame. Breceda's creations vary from turtles, to farm workers, to life size dinosaurs and are scattered throughout the Borrego Springs area.
As Mary and I drove through the desert looking for the sculptures we felt a bit like like dinosaur hunters from the movie "Jurrasic Park".Our favorite were the raptors and the life size Tyrannosauruses.
While the sculptures themselves were impressive, seeing them in the context of the timeless Anza Borrego Desert made the experience that much more authentic.
If you find yourself in the Borrego Springs area I highly recommend you check out these amazing sculptures.
Anza Borrego Thanksgiving Photo Album
Creature Desert Slide Show