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".