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!
So we've been hiding out on Whidbey Island getting the inside perfected while we wait. These are a few (terrible) shots of the original motif.
And now, introducing the newly renovated, salvage chic decor....
Here is our beautiful little kitchen, with our "master bedroom" in the back! (for you non-RV gurus, the driving area is below the bed, behind the ladder). The door with the mirror leads to our bathroom and opposite of that is the outside door.
A very dear friend gifted us the most darling tiny mason jars, intended to be shot glasses. We used some Museum Putty to affix them to the serving window to transform them into wild flower vases (#wildflowerwedneday here I come!). Holds strong, even when in motion.
We ripped out the oven and are replacing it with our portable camp stove. This frees up space, since we need our stove for tent camping anyways.
We replaced the hardware on the cabinets and drawers, and slapped on about a million coats of paint to cover that HORRID '70s wood paneling.
Our accent wall is made from reclaimed cedar shingles rescued from a neighbor's yard-waste.
The counter-top, ladder, kitchen hood and full-length mirror are up-cycled from the original RV interior. We installed new faux-hardwood floor planks and cut a thrifted coffee bean bag to create a makeshift curtain.