August 15, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
The New Fence At Border Field State Park
Border Field State Park has a new fence, new facilities and a newly un-flooded Monument Road so I biked down there to check it out. Everything is new, that is for sure. The old border fence, from out in the Pacific Ocean and continuing to the east for a quarter mile or so has been replaced with what I would call a much more people proof fence. Friendship Park, the monument, the bi-national garden, everything is now entirely on the Mexican side of the border fence. There is still a secondary fence that prevents walking up to the actual border which is where I was standing when I took the photo above. The photo below was taken in January 2011 and in it you can see what the area looked like before.
Friendship Park As Seen in January 2011
The photos above and below were originally seen in my post, “Border Field State Park” in January 2011.
The Monument – Splitting The Previous Fence
The previous fence was physically split to accommodate the monument.
Friendship Park Today
Now, the land and apparently the monument itself have been ceded back to Mexico.
International Border Meets Pacific Ocean
Looking to the west you can see the new fence with a new top that will prevent the poles from shifting around every which way like they did before. Border Patrol agents are always around in the park and they are very friendly and helpful if you talk to them.
Border Fence In January 2011
When I made my first trip to Border Field State Park in January 2011 I tried to romanticize the trip with the photos whilst writing about actual thoughts; I found that to be very enjoyable. There is a great deal of Zen to be had in the arranging of one’s own photos and words.
The Border – United States And Baja California, Mexico
This trip I was there to see what was new and different so the fence, the area by the beach and the fence are what drew my attention.
Horses Are Allowed At Border Field State Park
There were twenty or so cars and a half dozen horse trailers in the park when I was there. The horses seemed to be having just as much fun as the people.
Monument Road – Flooded During 2011
Monument Road is the road that in constantly flooded and this prevents access to the park by car most of the time. Above is the road as I encountered it back in May 2011 during my second trip to the park. The trees in the upper left of the photo are the same trees I was standing under while taking the photo below.
The View From Border Field Picnic Area
The view of San Diego, the border and the ocean really are amazing and the facilities are all functional. I drank from the water fountain and the water tasted clean and fresh. Vehicles are permitted into the park only on weekends but bikes, horses and pedestrians are welcome 7 days a week. Cheers!
Video From Border Field State Park
June 5, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Looking South At Smuggler’s Gulch
Smuggler’s Gulch, in Border Field State Park, is a small canyon that rests a little more than a mile east of the Pacific Ocean between the border of Mexico and The United States of America. Prior to 2005, it was famous for being an area where illegal aliens and smugglers could easily cross the border into America. Natural geography has most of San Diego County’s international border perched along high ridges or bordering hills and mountains, but flow from the Tijuana River and its tributaries formed a small canyon which people used as a natural pass to smuggle just about anything through. Smuggler’s Gulch was deep enough that Border Patrol radios didn’t work and it was so dangerous that Border Patrol agents were required to patrol the area in teams of at least two.
Smuggler’s Gulch Culvert
Smuggler’s Gulch became famous after 2005 when congress, under the Bush Administration gave The Department of Homeland Security the authority to waive any and all environmental laws, litigations and lawsuits so DHS could build a giant earthen dam across the gulch, on top of which would be built a restricted access paved road, stadium lighting and a new section of border fence. Things like this really are an agitation for our nation and it really galvanized America because it forces people to pick sides that are not representative of who we are as a country or as individuals.
America As Seen From Smuggler’s Gulch
The issues of immigration, environmentalism, border security and racism are all included in this thing which sucks because we are never allowed to position ourselves on the middle ground with things like this; we are only allowed to be for it or against it. The absence of the middle ground means that people in favor of (for example) the new border wall will be perceived as environment hating racists while those opposed are seen as activists that place environmental well being above a person’s, unless that person is entering the US from Mexico illegally.
Looking North From Smuggler’s Gulch
This narrow dialogue makes people think about only one thing and turns people into single issue voters, which are just about the worst kind of voter there is. You know the type, they’re the ones that ONLY want to know one thing about you and that one thing is your position on the latest hot button issue and whether or not your view is in alignment with theirs.
Smuggler’s Gulch Earthen Levy & Mosquito Larvae
So, take all of these issues and emotions, shake them up and a giant earthen levy across a natural flowing canyon is what you get, at least this time. The same ingredients never make the same thing twice which is probably why it takes so damn long to get anything done in this country. Anyway, the video above shows the area of Smuggler’s Gulch in Border Field State Park and all the mosquito larvae that live in the stagnant water in front of it. Cheers!
May 18, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Border Field State Park Fence
The last time I went to Border Field State Park was in January, in the dead of San Diego’s winter and there were hardly any people, on either side of the border. This ultimately set the tone for that post as somewhat morose and unpatriotic. This trip, three months later was right on the cusp of summer, so there were more people around, mostly on the Mexican side enjoying southern California’s most southern beach. Enjoying the beach and the sights across the border is really only half the fun. Finding and navigating through Border Field State Park are adventures in and of themselves, so that’s what this post is all about. By the time you finish up with this post you’ll be an expert ready to have some fun in the sun and make the most of your trip to Imperial Beach and Border Field State Park.
No Trespassing Signs On Monument Road
The road and signage on the way to the park is not exactly user friendly, and the website for Border Field State Park is not any better. In a nutshell, you’ll be heading west on Monument Road, passing signs like what you see above all along the way. Don’t let the signs or their somewhat garbled message fool you because as you see these signs and trailheads on the south edge of Monument Road you can rest assured that as long as you park your car when you head out, you will be OK. I’m not saying to ignore the signs, I’m clarifying to you that you can walk or ride a horse all over the park.
Border Field State Park Entrance Gate
If you chose to continue west on Monument Road, you will eventually arrive at the proper entrance to Border Field State Park at 1500 Monument Road, which is what we see above. The vantage point for this photo is facing west, with the Pacific Ocean exactly 1 mile to the west, straight ahead. The closed gates you see are almost always closed because the paved road that leads to the beach area of the park is almost always flooded. Even if the road wasn’t flooded, the gates would only be open on weekends anyway, so this is where experience takes over because most people see this, assume the entire park is closed, turn around and go home. This is where you’ll drop off your car to roam the park whether or not the gates are closed, as long as it’s during the operating hours of the park.
Flooded Monument Road
Here is the secret to enjoying a random or planned trip to Border Field State Park: Bring a bicycle or a horse for everyone in your group. The flooded road you see above is the reason for the entrance gate being closed most of the time, as well as the mosquito problem Imperial Beach suffers from every summer. This photo was taken by me in late April and will probably replace the whale in my nightmares because every inch of this standing water held MILLIONS of mosquito larvae that will no doubt be swarming over Imperial Beach in a couple months.
Anyway, park your car at the entrance gate and then jump on your bike, your horse or put on your walking shoes and head west. From the parking lot you have to go west for 1 mile, turn left at the ocean and head south for another half mile to get to the border fence. Bring a bike; you might me fine with walking to the beach, but by the end of the day you’ll be begging for some form of personal transportation.
Border Field State Park Secondary Fence
After you park at the entrance to Border Field State Park, head west and then turn left (south) at the Pacific Ocean, you will have about a half mile trek to the actual border between Mexico and America. The photo above is presented to help you out on your trip to the park. When I took the photo above I was facing east and the Pacific Ocean was lapping at my heels. The fence you see on the left, heading towards me represents the border for American citizens while the other fence in the center leads to Friendship Circle. The famous border fence that is shown in the first photo of this post is out of sight, just to the right. The area between the actual border and the fence above as well as Friendship Circle are government property that American people have “no right” to be on, even though we are a government of, by and for the people. Don’t walk past this fence or Border Patrol agents will have a talk with you. I’ve received a talking to twice, even though I crossed this plane only once.
Border Patrol Vehicle At Border Field State Park
Monument Mesa is the area on the border, above the beach and that is where the photo above was taken. Just to the right of the photo is Friendship Circle. Border Patrol agents are everywhere around here, which makes Border Field State Park very unique because there are no park rangers in this park. Border Patrol agents monitor our borders by questioning, arresting and detaining people. Park rangers help ensure visitors to said park have a good time. Border Patrol agents run this park, see what I mean? Don’t be afraid of them, just be aware that you’ll see them and they may let you know not to approach the primary fence.
Horses And Border Patrol At Border Field State Park
That being said, just make sure you don’t approach the actual border fence. As long as you don’t do that, you’ll be all right. Border Field State Park is the only place in San Diego you can ride horses along the beach, so if you are an equestrian, I would take advantage of that. Above we are looking north from the border, with horseback riders and at least one Border Patrol Agent looking on. You can see the beach is deserted, so don’t be afraid to walk around, even with Border Patrol agents staring at you.
People Waving Through Border Field State Park Fence
This brings me around to my conclusion, more or less. Border Field State Park is fun if you know when, what and where to assimilate what all the signs are telling you. Don’t come within 40 feet of the actual border and make sure to bring a bicycle. Border Patrol will do their job, Mexicans will try to talk to you through the border fence and people like me will try to take photos without being accused of terrorism. Saying it like that sounds bad but it’s the truth and I hope it will help you enjoy your time at Border Field State Park. Please be sure to look at my photos from my last trip to Border Field State Park earlier this year. Cheers!
January 25, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 7 Comments
Looking South At The Border Field State Park Fence
The extreme southwestern point of the continental United States is encompassed by a California state park named Border Field State Park. After spending some time there, I am just going to come right out and say that this park is a victim of The War On Terror. The beach is barren because people aren’t allowed swim there, the monument at friendship circle is kept behind lock and key, there are no bathrooms or drinking fountains and you aren’t allowed to be within 50 feet of the actual border. Add to this that the road to the park is always flooded, meaning you can’t access the park with a car, only by walking or riding a horse or bicycle. In short, this park has “STAY AWAY!” written all over it. The ironic thing is that these stipulations and conditions only exist on the American side of the border.
A Man, A Woman & A Dog At Border Field State Park
On the Mexican side of the fence, you can play on the beach, walk up to and even walk through the fence. On the American side, as I found out the hard way, if you come within 50 feet or so of the actual border fence you will see a border patrol agent drive down to your location and tell you so keep back about 50 feet. There is actually a secondary fence the runs about 50 parallel feet north of the actual border, that ends about 200 feet of east of the pacific ocean that marks the limit of American citizen access. These objects of isolationism bear no signs or warnings. There is nothing in place at all to keep you from walking directly up to the actual border fence. You’ll know you’re in the wrong when a border patrol jeep drives up behind you to point out the imaginary line you are not supposed to cross.
A Mexican Child Retrieves A Ball From America
As I said before, from the Mexican side of the fence there is nothing to keep you from enjoying a wonderful beach that happens to be on the border between two countries… Swim in the water, approach the border fence, or just have some fun in the sun. As the photos in this post show, you are not entitled to ANY of these things on the American side of the beach.
Playing In The Sand… A Few Feet South Of America
I think tourists in Mexico will ultimately be just as disappointed as tourists in America that come to this park. I thought I’d be able to walk right up to the border and be able to talk with and photograph people on the other side. I was only half right. My trip to Border Field State Park has ONLY my photography to show as evidence that I was there. Just about every other human interaction activity is forbidden by law. Welcome to America.
I think I may have to return to this park in a year or so to see if anything has changed. The photos surrounding this text show my impressions of this place. The closer I reached the border, the more iron bars blocked my way. As I walked away, I came across a butterfly, dead on the sand pointed towards Mexico.
After going to Border Field State Park, it’s very hard to say what is doing the greatest good for the greatest number. From my eyes, the powers that be have turned the border area with a monument called, “Friendship Circle” into an uninviting area that no one wants to go to. What’s my proof? The empty beach in front of me and the national monument that is kept under lock & key, admissible only under of the supervision of a US Border Patrol Agent. Agents like the one that told me to step the Hell back from the border. This is the same guy I need to ask to permit me to see the monument at Friendship Circle. Can you say, “Uncomfortable?”
Friendship Circle Monument As Seen From America
I have plans to return to Border Field State Park, but I don’t know when. Actually I do know when… The next time I feel like America’s laws have become so constrictive that I can’t draw a deep breath, I will look towards this park and see all the families and children having fun… On the other side of the fence.