The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn


The Knife & Fork

Breakfast Club Visits Borrego Springs, La Casa del Zorro Resort


By Warren McIlvoy
20 Mar 2004

Occasionally, the Breakfast Club will fly into locations that are unique only in that they have a convenient place to land and the eatery is either on site or close enough to warrant a short hike to get there. In those instances, I have maintained the philosophy that it not so much the destination, but the adventure of getting there. After all, it is the excuse to fly somewhere for a group get-together and to swap lies and tales. There are also locations that not only have the allure and adventure of a flight, but also the destination is an attraction all unto itself. Borrego Springs and the La Case del Zorro Resort is just such a place.  This event was also one of our longest in that it took two Saturdays to complete the event.  You see, the weather played a role in this event as I canceled our original date of 13 Mar due to less than desirable weather here in Arizona but it was quite good in the western part of the state as well in the southern California area. As such, 10 folks opted to make the original event date with the rest of us traveling a week later. All-in-all, we had 25 folks make the Borrego Springs event even though it was in two "waves".

Since California was an hour behind us, we made a one time change in our arrival time by using their local time for our 0900 arrival time. This change allowed those of us that do not fly "belchfires", to at least perform the pre-flight ritual with a bit of early morning light rather than using a flashlight to look for gremlins. The air was still quite smooth as we leveled-out at our cruise altitude of 6500' and headed for our first check-point of Blythe, California. The one remarkable landmark on that first leg was the town of Quartzite, Arizona. This little bit of real-estate does a phenomenal impression of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde routine. In the summer season, it almost disappears but during the winter period, it become one of the largest centers of human population in the western part of the state. Folks from almost every corner of the North American Continent make this desert oasis, their winter home.

After passing the agricultural Mecca of Blythe, it is on to our next waypoint of Shadi Intersection. This intersection in the sky earmarks the point in our westerly course where we can turn towards the southwest and still remain clear of the restricted areas that cover almost 2/3's of the Salton Sea. The area that is now the lake was formerly a salt-covered sink or depression (a remnant of prehistoric Lake Cahuilla) about 280 feet (85 m) below sea level until 1905-06, when diversion controls on the Colorado River broke a few miles below the California-Mexico border and flood waters rushed northward, filling the depression. Subsequent deepening of the sink was stopped in 1907, when a line of protective levees was built. The lake at that time was about 40 miles (60 km) long and 13 miles (21 km) wide and covered an area of about 400 square miles (1,000 square km). Its surface lay 195 feet (60 m) below sea level. Over the next five years evaporation decreased the water level by 25 feet (7.5 m). Its surface is now about 235 feet (72 m) below sea level, and its salinity approximates that of seawater. The lake is now a focus of a state recreation area with facilities for swimming, boating, and camping.

It became apparent early on that we were in the lead for the coveted title of "first to arrive" as we reached to southern shore of the Salton Sea. When we cleared the last of the mountain ridges between us and Borrego Springs, I called the airport unicom but after two tries, and not hearing anything that remotely sounded like there were any aerobatic activities taking place, we proceeded to approach the airport from the south to make left traffic for runway 25. As I turned off the runway, the unicom came back on the air and was advising other arrivals that runway 7 was being used by a number of Ultralite aircraft that were active at this time. I found a parking space that was almost in front of the airport office and directly across from the "Cross Winds Steakhouse". We walked towards the eastern end of the ramp to greet the
Breakfast Club arrivals and point out available parking spaces. When all of the Breakfast Club group had arrived, I went into the airport office to summon the van from the resort. There were 3 or 4 folks not associated with our group that had already called for a ride so we waited until the van had arrived to let the driver know that we were all here.

The resort is about a 5-mile ride from the airport and all of our group were accommodated by one van and a Lincoln Town Car which were harbingers of the level of poshness that we were about the revel in. We disembarked the vehicles under the portico that shades the main front entrance to the resort. We walked past the check-in desk, and by a large vase of fresh cut flowers that dominated the table in the center of the room. As I recall from prior visits, this area was part of the original building to comprised the resort in the 1930's. At this point, I will insert a little bit of the resorts history garnered from their web site:

"Located in Borrego Springs, California, "La Casa" is a small, four-diamond, luxury destination
Resort. In 1937 a simple adobe ranch house was the humble beginning of La Casa del Zorro.
Remodeled to accommodate up to 25 people, it was at that time known as the Desert Lodge.
James S. Copley purchased the Lodge in 1960 and it was renamed La Casa del Zorro.
Modernization and expansion began in 1961 and has continued over the years, adding additional
guest rooms, several swimming pools, upscale amenities and facilities. However, throughout the
resort's expansion, great lengths have been taken to preserve those elements that reflect its simple
beginning. Some of the original adobe walls and beams still today are a part of the comfortable,
inviting lobby and lounge. 
When the small ranch dining room was enlarged, it provided an ideal location to display the
elegant Marjorie Reed paintings, which recreate the 19th century Butterfield stage line's role in
the development of Southern California. The Butterfield route passed through the Southern
California area that is now known as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest State Park in
the contiguous United States.

19 guest cottages were added and modernized to offer private accommodations for families and
group hospitality events. These are now known as our Casitas, which are individually decorated
and furnished; most have private pool or spa". 

We checked-in at the desk in the dinning room and we were promptly ushered outdoors (I don't believe that we looked all that unruly) to a covered deck that overlooked the lush landscaping of the
Rose Garden. We were seated 4 to a table that were adorned with China dinner wear, crystal water tumblers, and linen napkins. The menu, in booklet form, displayed a wide range of entree's that was most appropriate of a four-diamond resort such as this (no airport food here). I choose the Eggs Benedict at $12.00 and it was worth every tasty mouthful. As expected, the service and food were all outstanding.

After our leisurely breakfast meal, I had arranged with the resort folks, for a tour of the resort grounds. Our tour guide was a young lass from Belfast, Norther Ireland who has been in this country for about 6-months. Her accent was not thick but a deaf man could tell that she had a trace of Blarney in her. Our first stop was at the semi-life sized chess game where Glen Yoder promptly explained the finer points of the game by moving the chess pieces about the oversized chess board. As the tour moved forward, we passed a very large Salt Cedar tree that sprawled along the ground before rising to a height of about 50'. The multiple trunks were easily 3' in diameter. We arrived at the new fitness center (now about 3-years old) that housed a wide variety of work-out equipment, saunas, showers, and anything else that you mind desired. Outside, there were about 6-8 tennis courts, swimming pools with cabanas for lounging around the pool, and a varsity class lap-pool with a timer clock for those who choose to take their swimming on a more serious note.

Our tour continued through some of the newer buildings that housed the high dollar suites that overlook more of the lush flower gardens and landscaping. At one point, we crossed a small foot bridge that spanned a wandering creek-like pool stocked with decorative fish. As we stopped on the bridge to admire the scene, a number of the fish gathered on one side looking for a hand-out. I wondered who trained them to do that. We continued on the winding paths that wound around the guest facilities until we eventually returned to the main office building. After the mandatory "pit stop", we got back into the van and town car for the ride back to the airport.

It has been suggested by one of our crack(ed) event committee members, that we might do a 3-day, 2-night stay here some time next year. He was going to run some numbers on renting one or more of the Casitas and splitting the cost over several people which would make the fare a bit more palatable. From the picture links that are at the bottom of this newsletter, you will clearly see why the La Casa del Zorro has become the highlight of our annual fly-in schedule.

The Borrego Springs Group

Second Wave

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 4544X, BC-1
  • Don Graminske in 9064V, BC-16
  • Harold DarcAngelo in 320HD, BC-32
  • Jim Nelson and Lisa Orr in 1718H, BC-310
  • Richard Spiegel and Nancy Shore in 901KA, BC-3
  • Paul Fortune in 31870, BC-201
  • Glen & Judy Yoder in 31TC, BC-007
  • Allan & Patricia Wallace in 9002V, BC-39
  • William Card and Tom Robertson in 25SX

First Wave

  • Roger and Travis Whittier in 706CD, BC-122
  • Tim Yoder and Trent Heidtke in 52TY
  • Curt & Cindy Browning in 8287D
  • Garrett Dauphers in 1841H
  • Whitney White in 3483X
  • Albert and Lance Thomas in 320BT

What's Next?

The April event will see the Breakfast Club make a return visit (well, sort of) to Jean, NE. We had this scheduled last year but weather faked us out on this one. I had to cancel by Friday as the weather was supposed to be bad. As it turned-out, it was fine on Saturday and two airplanes went to Jean. In May, we will be going to Tucson, Ryan as the restaurant is now open again. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Click on the Borrego Springs link to view photos of this fly-in event.