It’s a great pool complete with lazy river but I can’t swim yet as my incision and chest tube holes are still healing. We’re surrounded by golf courses but that’s not an activity I can participate in right now either. I like to golf and it would be good exercise but I’m not going there just yet especially after yesterday.
My exercise over the past days has consisted of a few twenty to thirty-minute walks when the temperature has allowed mixed in with a lot of recuperating on the couch; TV remote and laptop in hand. The time had come to check out the desert landscape beyond the crest of urban sprawl as seen from our fourth floor vantage point.
Destination, The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake. With an interesting past and unknown future, I came across this unique area of the planet during a fly by on Google Earth. A Google search for Salton Sea quickly brought me to the State Park website and a few interesting articles including this one from National Geographic. Not more than 30 miles south we could check out the shores and visitor’s center in less than a day. Off we went.
It’s a bit of a sight. I can’t drive for at least another 3 to 4 weeks. Nor can I sit in a seat with a deployable air bag. I can’t imagine how much that would hurt! Sneezes are hard enough right now. We can’t figure out how to turn off the one in the front passenger seat so I get the back. It may look like fun to have a chauffeur but I can’t say I’m crazy about the arrangement although it did allow me to snap a few shots along the way.
All around are signs of a human takeover of the desert. Water sprinklers and irrigation systems feed crop after crop including rows of towering date palms. The typical residential and commercial developments all too common in today’s urban planning projects protrude into the sand and farms like coral fingers on a submerged fringing reef. Except for the dropback of the arid Santa Rosa mountains these condos, grocery stores, Walmarts and Starbucks combine to look like any other community that’s gone up in the last 10 years.
The Salton Sea is unlike any other! Two hundred and fifty feet below sea level and covering 35 by 15 miles of real estate on top of the San Andreas fault line, this body of water has come and gone over the years at the will of the Colorado River and the effects of man. It now exists as a result of the last flood in 1905 and the irrigation run off from surrounding agricultural areas. However, with water deals for San Diego diverting liquid gold from its source and extreme desert temperatures, the water levels decrease while salinity increases.
(They could use some help from BCNMI)Water levels have receded leaving a wasteland of rotting bones, barnacles and salt where tourists once flocked. Despite the harsh conditions millions of fish including the tasty tilapia thrive even with intermittent mass die offs. With 90% of California’s wetlands destroyed over the years, millions of migratory birds utilize this last remaining resting spot along the pacific flyway. If the lake dries up what will happen to over 400 species of birds, many endangered? If the lake dries up experts predict the sediments, which contain heavy metals and pesticides from the surrounding developments, will be whipped up by high winds turning the Imperial Valley into a toxic dust bowl much like what happened at Owens Lake in Nevada.
Our tour of this amazing and much debated place included two stops. One at a place called “A Beach Made of Fish Bones” where a short walk quickly revealed that you cannot wear zories and kick up sand here. That’s just not sand. It is in fact sharp remnants of fish bones and barnacles AND it hurts when it gets between your shoes and your feet.
We saw many, many dead rotting fish and plenty of pelicans swooping all around or keeping their distance while afloat on the dark surface. Everything is coated with thick layers of salt, a testament to the fact the lake is 25% more salty than the Pacific Ocean.
At the state park we read informative signs while watching fisherman line the banks with rods in hand. We also took in the very informative and air conditioned visitors center including a revealing documentary on the lakes history. I even spent 40 bucks on souvenirs. This information center educates residents and tourists as to the plight and importance of the lake. It should be a mandatory visit for everyone especially if you are in any way responsible for putting pressure on the lake’s very existence. If you live in Southern California you fall into this category!
Unfortunately, soon after returning to our pad the aches and pains in my chest from absorbing many starts and stops in the car far outweigh any worry I have about the environment or anything else for that matter. It was good to get out and about but I’m a ways off from strapping a tank on my back!
Where’s the Tylenol!