The Salton Sea, once a flourishing resort town, is now an abandoned wasteland for rust punx and wayward travelers.
A while back, I came across a documentary on the "Most Abandoned Places in the World". Two places stood out to me. The first, the well-known Chernobyl and the second, the Salton Sea in the deserts of California. Equally as rich in history, but even more fascinating due to it's "hidden in plain sight" nature, I needed to see it! And let's be honest, the flight to Russia isn't happening anytime soon.
What is the Salton Sea?
Imagine a Palm Springs in the 1950s. Beautiful, warm desert oasis with the perfect lake for recreation, all just a few hours' drive from LA. For Cascadia residents, read: the Lake Chelan of California. It was full of glamour and glitz at budget cost, the real American Dream getaway. There was just one, little problem... the Salton Sea was an environmental disaster.
That is a dead fish. The shore is now littered with hundreds, no, thousands of these uniquely characteristic dried up, sunken eyeball skeletons. The "white, sandy beaches" are in actuality, bits of finely crushed fish bones. And this is in the winter. In the summer, these guys float out of the water and bloat and rot on the shore, a smell I am told is both putrid and far-reaching.
Quick history lesson:
The lake itself was created by accident in an attempt to redirect the Colorado River for more fertile farm lands. It filled the Salton Basin, a historic dry lakebed. Due to natural evaporation, the water's saline levels would naturally fluctuate. This affects the fish, seasonally... a little. However, humans are garbage and just can't let nature be. Nearby agricultural communities continued to desalinate the water to keep crops hydrated year round, resulting in a lake that just keeps getting saltier-- by 3% more saline each year! Add agricultural runoff pollution and uninhabitable 90 degree water temperatures in the summer and there's no wonder that the Sea is more of a graveyard these days. In fact, the Salton Sea's days are numbered! They are actually limiting the amount of water allowed to flow into it from the Colorado River, and eventually it will again be a dry lakebed.
So right like that, the 1950s resort town came to a crashing hault. Abandoned and frozen in time.
So my advice?
Visit while you can! This is one of the coolest places I've seen and it literally won't be around for long! Just over 1,000 people still live near the lake, and some residents even live in the mostly abandoned locations. It is really a trip. One of the last Mad Max places in the US. Warning: visit in the winter unless you are a fan of 130 degree weather!
There are abandoned places everywhere! There are also some not abandoned places snuck in between which is awesome and bit spooky! Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. We erred on the side of safety and stuck to the obviously abandoned structures... something told us these were the kinda folks that shoot first, ask questions later. We found an abandoned boat, rest area/beach shower, a few houses and a ton of trailers in an array of states, from rusted and ransacked to skeleton frames in the desert.
We left our mark in a few places.
And we were sure to remind the desert that our wedding date is set! Mark your calendars! I feel the abandoned outhouse "Save the Date" will get our guests ready for the 20-person outhouse at the wedding location, ha!
Up next in our adventures of the abandoned and forgotten: Slab City!!! Stay tuned, it's gonna be a fun one!
Here we are... 600 miles and just a few weeks from home and .... nothing.
We've been broken down more than days than not. My spirit is busted, and the only thing that hasn't gone completely tits up is Jeffrey's patience and ability to put up with my lack thereof. Yes, we are in the most majestic place either of us have ever seen, but it's hard to remember it's beauty when you're squinting through 7 constant days of grey rain and occasional teary eyes.
We finally said, "fuck it" and started spending money on having a good time instead of just RV repairs. We rented a little motor boat and explored Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. It's the largest of the park's lakes, and the only one that motorized boats are allowed in. We got caught in a sudden downpour at the furthest point of our boating expedition. Luckily, I brought my giant coat (thanks, NorthFace). Jeffrey on the other hand, got soaked... all while laughing and saying, "I ain't afraid of rain!" (I think we've both become manic in the face of anything 'bad' at this point).
In all the mayhem, we both missed our anniversary. I'm not big on those sorta things anyways, so it was nice that there wasn't any pressure around it. In retrospect, we did have a very romantic evening hiking along Moraine Lake, the "Jewel of the Rockies".
And like Canadian Mountain clockwork, the rain replaced the sunset and left us in a peaceful drizzle. The raindrops hit the surface of the blue water in such a calm chaos that it left us in a meditative state, wrapped in each others arms, thankful that we had one another no matter what. So, it kind of was a perfect way to spend our anniversary-- loving each other, just because.
After throwing the best happy-birthday-Kelly/ going-away-party last weekend, I thought it would be fun to share our tips on hosting a successful goodbye celebration! A huge thank you to all of our amazing, caring and out of control friends. YOU made a great event simply perfect!