October 6, 2012

31 Trips in Cali, Day 6: The Salton Sea

 Empty, lonely, barren, and sometimes a little, er, odoriferous, the Salton Sea is not your typical tourist destination.  Sitting southeast of Palm Springs and the other major desert towns, it's a man-made body of water (in fact, the largest lake in the state) and attracts fishermen, bird-watchers, and campers (but not too many in the summer).  

Once upon a time, developers sought to turn the area around its shoreline into another celebrity resort town, similar to Palm Springs and Vegas, but that plan never really took off.  (You can view some evocative photographs of the ruins of that plan in the coffee table book, Greetings From the Salton Sea.)

The husband & I visited the Salton Sea as a side trip on one of our frequent anniversary escapes to Palm Springs. We took the long way in, through the scorched, poor town of Thermal. To say it gets hot there is like saying Minnesota gets a bit of snow in the winter. 

I somehow pushed some button on our Canon digital camera, and so all the photos I took that day are in a strange black & white and green mode, yet the effect seems fitting for this landscape.

There was nobody else out there on this Saturday in late July, save the park ranger at the entrance, and a very nice ranger (docent?) inside the lonely Visitors Center.  This year, the Salton Sea State Park was on the short-list for permanent closure, one of many state parks slated to be shut down due to the California budget.  Mysteriously, the money was found at the last hour (set aside in some fund? I don't know, but it all seemed pretty fishy).  Bottom line, I'm thrilled that none of our state parks had to be closed -- for this year, at least -- and that the Visitors Center in this hot and windy desert will remain standing, as it was going to be demolished if the park closed.

The immediate shoreline consists of the crunchy bones of millions of dead tilapia fish. 
We didn't stick around for a picnic.

Thanks for coming along! Come back tomorrow for Day 7 of my 31 Trips in California series, when we'll visit San Francisco and Las Vegas -- in miniature.
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