You know you’re in the right place when you find the weathered, hand-carved sign hanging from an ocotillo in the middle of Anza-Borrego State Park. The sign moves around from time to time, but it always marks the place where each year something happens that is unique to the adventure travel community. It’s a gathering where old friends can reconnect, and new friends are made. It’s a place where you can learn the skills you need to be safe in the backcountry, or get inspired about how to build your vehicle. It’s a place where you and your family can eat world-class food cooked from a Dutch-oven under a canopy of stars. And it’s the place where everyone comes to help leave the place better than they found it, by picking up thousands of pounds of trash from your public lands. This is the SoCal Desert Rendezvous – hosted by American Adventurist.
As the sun sets on Friday, folks mosey into camp. They come in all manner of vehicles, from EarthRoamers to Jeeps to Adventure bikes, driven by folks as unique as the vehicles themselves. Around a number of campfires, people share good food and conversation – everyone is happy to be outside.
Saturday arrives with a sunrise that has the folks lucky enough to be awake scrambling for their cameras. For a few minutes the world is painted in bright and brilliant colors, and it’s the perfect way to kick off an exceptional day spent outside. A couple of hours later, everyone musters for the trash cleanup.
From the air, it looks like dozens of ants wandering around at random across the landscape – yet this is actually an organized process. Dozens of people cover the ground seeking out trash which is piled up for later collection. By the time we’re done, we’ve removed a mountain of trash from the landscape for the BLM, but the day is far from over.
Back in camp a couple of members teach a class on wilderness first aid. They’re both combat-seasoned Navy Corpsmen, and they put on a great class. Tourniquets, H-bandages, and Sam-Splints are passed out and students learn how to use them. The instructors talk about mindset and other topics that will help the students become better prepared for what they could run into in the field. While the adults learn, kids get to play in the dirt and jumps are constructed for RC cars.
With the class concluded, people head back to their camps to start cooking – it’s time for the Dutch-oven competition and pot-luck. As evening rolls around, tables are lined up and every square inch of surface is covered with dishes for every appetite. The food is outstanding, and everyone feasts.
The day is capped off with a raffle, and everyone gathers at the main camp to cheer on the folks that win prizes that range from recovery gear to Dutch-ovens. American Adventurist is fortunate to have the support of a number of great companies that have pitched in to support our community year after year.
Desert Rendezvous is one of three events that American Adventurist puts on each year. Each event is held in a unique environment and steeped in the region’s local flavor. Yet all of our community events have the same core values of friends, family, an active outdoor lifestyle, and giving back to the local community. To learn more about our events, please visit our EVENTS PAGE.
Thank you to Richard SooHoo, David Butters, and Justin Pitcairn (@pitcairnoverland) for contributing photos, and to Dave Bennett for helping with this story. Thank you to David Butters and Kyle Treptow for stepping up to teach our first aid class. American Adventurist would like to thank the following companies for their continued support of our events:
Support these companies:
Agenda Trading Company
Danger Ranger Bear
LT Wright Knives
Off the Grid Surplus
Prometheus Design Werx