Sunday, November 26, 2006

the salton sea

jake and i made a trek out to the salton sea in december of last year at the behest of mdr and beccs. true to their word, this abandoned lake is truly one of the strangest places i have ever been.

in the 1960's some entrepeneurs envisioned the salton sea as the las vegas of california and began building the yacht club on the north shore and other attractions. roadways were developed around the lake to accomodate for the anticipated construction boom. what no one took into consideration was the dangerously high salinity of the lake and the fact that within just a couple of years, the lake would cease to sustain life. compounding the problem, large quantities of silt and polluted run-off from the adjacent coachella agricultural valley began flooding into the salton sea, making the lake, once teeming with wildlife, a stinky, inhospitable cess pool.

today, the planned neighborhood roadways built decades ago are crumbling and lead nowhere.

the lake emanates a repugnant sulphuric odor and the white beaches are merely the bones of fish and shells, bleached by the unforgiving desert sun.

once waterfront properties have sunk into the primordial sludge and float ethereally on newly formed lagoons. seagulls take to the skies in droves and wade in the shallows, their interminable squawking the only noise breaking up the hush that has settled over the valley. the place is full of ghosts and is undeniably creepy.

there are some permanent residents who call the salton sea home. they are an interesting mix of meth manufacturers, migrant families that work in the nearby date palm fields, retirees who scoot gleefully around in their golf carts while visiting each other's trailers and some middle aged folks who own large trucks and speed boats, decorate their lawns with plastic sunflower windmills and glare suspiciously at 'out of towners' wearing black rubber boots with tripods in tow.

while we never made it all the way to the yacht club (which once boasted a huge cowboy statue whose head tumbled to the ground and therefore made for some great pictures), we were entirely satisfied with our very strange afternoon at the lake. the visit can pretty much be summed up by the helpful gas station attendant who said, "i don't know why you'd wanna go out there now...ain't nothin there. but i heard that back in its day, the salton sea was really somethin".

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

san diego retrospective...

while i have an enormous cache of san diego photos, these were a few from 2005 that jumped out at me this evening. there will be more. that, i promise you...


the backside of the legendary california theater in downtown san diego, now in grave disrepair

belmont park

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the delta...

cob and i embarked on a brief afternoon exploration by car of the delta while visiting friends and family in the central valley after one of my doctor's appointments. at jim's behest, we ventured out to ryde and locke, towns that nestle up precariously on the levee of the delta's many water ways, about 40 minutes northwest from downtown stockton.

while tiny downtown locke hasn't changed much in the last 90 years or so, some of the original buildings that were erected in 1912 by chinese immigrants are still standing today, although most have been converted into art galleries and curio shops.

one of three original buildings, now a chinese restaurant, it was once the locke saloon

the building designs harken back to the times of wooden plank boardwalks and shuddered facades to keep the sweltering delta heat at bay. while most of the buildings have been given temporary facelifts via recently applied coats of paint, many of them sway and lean somewhat dangerously with age.

i couldn't help but be mesmerized by the feel of california history evident in this tiny cross-section of the delta. i laughed to myself remembering that my 4th grade visit to old town sacramento was not nearly as compelling as my crush on jay epenbach who i openly flirted with through every musty, historical exhibit we visited.

on our way home, we met some goats. you can imagine how happy this made me.