Salton Sea & Joshua Tree

I’m fascinated by the Salton Sea. It is almost becoming my new obsession.

So, we first went to the Joshua Tree National Park with the dogs to check it out. It’s an awesome place to visit. Very weird looking landscapes with the strange rock formations and those odd looking Joshua Trees. It was National Park Week, so the entrance fee was waived. Good deal. If we went another time, it is $15 per vehicle for seven days to enter the park. Joshua Tree has a lot of hiking trails and I would have love to go on one of the trails. Unfortunately, pets are not allow on trails. Pets are allow inside the park, but they have to be on a leash. We did sort of went on a mini walking trail at Cap Rock, but we didn’t stay that long. My dog, Andy, spent the whole time looking for one shade to another shade and finding the perfect spots to pee.

If there is a must see place at Joshua Tree, it would have to be the Key Views. It is a grand vista that overlooked the Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault. When we went, the view was a bit hazy, but we were able to make out the Salton Sea. This was before we even thought of visiting the Salton Sea. The view from the Key Views was beautiful. Too bad I didn’t take any pictures of it since I left my camera in the car. I do have a picture of it, but it is from my Joshua Tree guidebook that I bought from the visitor center. This guidebook is informative and have great pictures of the park. It was from this book that we read about U2 and the famous Joshua Tree. The U2’s Joshua Tree, it turned out, is not inside the national park. We almost went to find this tree until we realized that the U2’s Joshua Tree is north of the park, closer to Death Valley, somewhere along the Route 192. Also, that tree is no longer standing. Since the U2’s Joshua Tree was too far from us, we decided to check out the Salton Sea.

Going to visit Salton Sea was not my idea at all. It was my boyfriend’s idea because he saw the movie with Val Klimer in it called The Salton Sea. Just because of the movie, he wanted to check it out. We both have no idea what awaited for us at the Salton Sea. I didn’t know that there is a sea in the middle of the desert in Southern California. While we were driving from Joshua Tree to the Salton Sea Beach, I was able to search on Google about the Salton Sea once I had full bars in my phone (Joshua Tree had spotty cell service). That was when I learned that the Salton Sea is an environmental mistake, the place is smelly, and the white sands on the beach are actually dead fishes bones. The funny thing was that my boyfriend thought we should get something to eat when we go through a town called Mecca. Mecca is just a small town that is off a major highway and there is literally nothing there to eat. Of course, my boyfriend was pleased that he can tell people that he went to Mecca on our way to the Salton Sea. We never got something to eat until we were back home in Orange County.

Anyway, back to the Salton Sea. We accidentally drove passed the entrance to Salton Sea Beach and decided to make a turn at Salton City, which is next door to the Salton Sea Beach. At the time, I was visualizing in my head that Salton City would be sort of a desert suburb with a waterfront. I pretty much thought that Salton City would be something like Seal Beach. You know, a quaint beach town with a lively main street. Yeah, that was totally a wrong description for Salton City. Salton City is dead. A ghost town. We drove down to this abandoned parking lot that overlooked the water. The view was nice to look at, but the smell was really bad. Putrid, stinky, smelly, horrid…the list goes on. We didn’t park the car and walk around the place. We stayed for maybe three minutes at that parking lot and left. I later learned that the abandoned parking lot was a former site of a yacht club.

We went to our original destination, Salton Sea Beach, thinking it would be a little different. This time, we followed the homemade signs pointing us to the marina, and it was the same as Salton City. Ghost town. Dead. Eerie. Hardly any human activity. We parked the car, got the dogs out, and walked to the edge of the shore. The first thing I ran into was a dead fish that was just laying on the ground. Andy, a crazy food fiend, went diving for it until I stopped him from getting too close to the dead fish. I didn’t want him to eat it because it might be toxic. Anyway, the place just stink a lot and it was a bit depressing. The area was very quiet and eerie. The picnic tables and benches looked like some dead skeletons. The views with the mountains and the birds are truly beautiful. Then there are the reminders like the horrid smell and the dead fishes. A weird contradiction.

While we were at the Salton Sea Beach, this woman came up to us and asked if we are from this area because she wanted to know what happened to these places. Apparently, she went to three other locations around the Salton Sea and she said all the places were the same. Quiet and dead. We told her that we didn’t really know, but I told her whatever I remembered from Wikipedia. She showed us her small ziploc bag that was filled with the “sands” of the Salton Sea. It was the bones from dead fishes and other dead things. It was interesting to look at in a weird and morbid way. Apparently, this woman was on a road trip and somehow she found the Salton Sea on the internet. We told her that we just visited Joshua Tree and decided to come down here to see the Salton Sea. The woman went the day before to the Joshua Tree and was all excited for the National Park Week. She was intrigued by the Salton Sea and told us that she will be looking up about what happened at the Salton Sea.

In a weird way, I am also intrigued by this strange place. My boyfriend is also interested. I guess that desert sea has that effect on people who visited the Salton Sea. I saw houses and trailers around the sea, but what kind of people live in this kind of desolation. Definitely not normal people, these people must be some kinds of characters. I’m obsessed about Salton Sea. It’s giant cesspool of salt and toxins because there are no outflows. The only reason Salton Sea existed because a man made an engineering mistake and a dam broke, which flooded the Salton Sink. It almost became the next Palm Springs, a California Rivera. I guess it could have been the next Palm Springs if they have manage the sea effectively by engineering some kind of outflows. Too bad they never manage the place well. Salton Sea is now a giant puddle of water in the desert and it’s nasty. Such a sad place. What a beautiful and nasty place.


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