Day 3, the Salton Sea

 | December 2, 2007 11:05 pm

The Salton SeaI’ve been wanting to visit The Salton Sea for quite a while, just because it’s history is so cool. About 10,000 years ago a huge sea covered most of southern California. Eventually it dried up leaving a salty basin. In more recent times Lake Cahuilla has formed and dried up and formed again from run-off from the Colorado river. The most recent drying-up of the lake was about 300 years ago and it covered an area much larger than the current Salton Sea.

So that brings us up to about 1901 when engineers build an canal to irrigate the farm lands of the Imperial Valley with water from the Colorado. It worked great. Except that silt eventually blocked up the canal, and in 1905 when they redirected the Colorado to avoid this blockage floodwaters broke through and filled part of the basin from Lake Cahuilla.

Shells on the Salton Sea.And thus the Salton Sea was born. Today it’s slowly drying up from evaporation, (there’s no outlet for the water so it just keeps getting saltier and saltier), but it’s a fun place to visit. For a short time anyway. I stayed along the south and east coasts, so I missed the “highly” populated areas, but still I was surprised with how little development was there. It reminded me of the midwest, except hotter, with more signs in Spanish, and less people. I spent the day walking around at the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge. The beaches along the sea are all made up of the shells of dead coral as you can see in the close-up picture. Also, lots of dead fish.

Sunrise at the Salton Sea 3 Of course, I took a lot of sunrise pictures. These are the views of the lake from the campground I stayed at.

The white birds are giant swans. If I remember right they are only around the Salton Sea during the winter, but other birds show up throughout the rest of the year.

Sunrise at the Salton Sea 2

I got a campground partly because I wanted a shower after the couple days of 90 degree weather, but mostly because I wanted to slow down and take a break from the traveling. At this point it still hadn’t sunk in yet that I have all this time. Also because of the heat I’d spent less time in Anza-Borrego and at the Salton Sea and felt like I was moving pretty quickly down the road. So I sucked it up and spent the money, ($17, annoying when my daily goal is only $20), and rented myself a small plot of land for the night. I spent the time reading a book and settling into the idea of going slower on this trip.

Sunrise at the Salton SeaReading the book was a nice reminder that this is more than just a road trip, this is my life. A reminder to take advantage of this time to read books, do some writing and work on my own projects. Those things are actually as much of the reason for taking this time off as is seeing the country.

In the week after that I started becoming more and more comfortable with just stopping random places and reading. Read three books that first week, so I think I’m starting to get the hang of the whole slowing down thing.

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3 Responses to “Day 3, the Salton Sea”

Molly wrote a comment on December 3, 2007

When you get the hang of the slowing-down thing, can you share your wisdom with me? I’m lousy at taking it easy.

Jessica wrote a comment on December 4, 2007

It’s going to take a while before I get out to Mass, but I’d be happy to give a demonstration in exchange for a tour. :)

Molly wrote a comment on December 5, 2007

Sounds like a plan. :-)

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