Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Salton Sea Trip 3 - Photography









The Salton Sea - Trip Three: Rohith's disappointment
(pictured above)

The third and probably the last photography inspired trip to the Salton Sea. What is so great about the Salton Sea? Its basically a huge Ghost Town with all kinds of photogenic rusty old things and run down buildings. Its very ghetto but people do live there and it has been slowly getting cleaned up over the years. The Yacht Club on the Eastern Shore has been restored to its hay-day glory so the half-buried playground is gone. The relics at Bombay Beach have deteriorated to the point of falling down and the old bus down on the Southern Shore is gone now too.

The plan was to get up at 3am to make the three hour drive out there via Julian (from SD) to catch the sunrise but I slept through the alarms. I had several missed calls from Rohith (my mate who was coming along for his first trip out there) and a text message saying only.. "Where the f___ are you??". I pushed through the overwhelming urge to bail on the trip mostly out of guilt for making Rohith get up so early while i slept like a baby. So we got on the road around 4:30ish.

We didn't make the sunrise but it didn't seem all that spectacular as we were driving down. That windy road down from Julian nearly made me puke and things got a bit mesirable. I thought to myself "I have made a huge mistake!" This trip was gona suck and there was no need to get up so early! But once we hit the first destination and got out of the car, the stinking hot desert sun cheered us up and we got right into it.

We started at Salton City at the Fire Station and made our way around the intricate road system with empty lots and trash every where. I had Googled many specific locations so the road signs actually did help us pin point where we wanted to go. Some of the homes we stopped at seemed run down from the out side but you never know what you could be walking into out there. A meth-lad or squatter's paradise. We ended up at a motel bar for brunch and a couple beers. We were already feeling the heat. The bar staff were super friendly and helpful. It was great to hear their perspective on the Sea and the Cook told us he catches and releases fish like crazy out there. I had heard the best water color to go fishing in out there is brown and the fish are actually ok. 

The next spot we hit was Salton Beach I think and it was totally ghetto run down buildings and trailers. Lots of graffiti and i got some more shots of old chairs. Some of the building had fire damage and the pigeons had claimed a garage as there personal bathroom with mountains of bird poop piled up (i took a photo but it was too gross to post). We found a couple washed up boats nearby then moved on North around to The Yacht Club and down to Bombay Beach after a brief stop in which we got lost on some kind of plantation and chased by obsessive Bumble Bees.

After a quick lunch at Bombay Beach and another beer we checked out the beach where all the relics got flooded. There isn't much left out there since the first time I went but the crane is my favorite part and it still stands strong. After we rocked on down to Salvation Mountain. Leonard (the artist that created the mountain out of drift wood, hay and paint) has passed away but the Mountain is still 'open' for people to check out. It also seems to have deteriorated since the last time i went and I fear it will not stand the test of time if unkept. We had a quick drive around Slab City and I refused to check out the cafe on the grounds that it had internet access. 

Weary and suddenly feeling the impact of getting up ridiculously early, we moved on to the final locations. Next was the Mineral Spa. I was surprised my guide from the first trip hadn't mentioned this place as it was pretty sweet. It looked like it had been bombed and half the walls were leaning over. It seemed to me a safety hazard but no one cares I guess. The bathroom at this location was perhaps the most feral bathroom I have ever seen (again, too gross to post). I had expected the lonely trees I found on Google Maps to be in the water but when we got there it was dry for a good mile or so. Low tide I guess. On route to the rusty old bus, we sped through farm roads which turned into dirt roads then quickly mud roads and hesitantly on the direction of my navigator Rohith we made it to the place where the bus had I guess been dragged away for scrap. I had saved the bus for last and so I was a little disappointed but overall I got my moneys worth from the Salton Sea and even Rohith said he was glad to have seen it!


  1. Nice Job On The Photography. Here's why those Salton City fire trucks are new (surrounded by decay): This fine town voted last month to greatly expand their Landfill. Trainloads of trash from Los Angeles will soon land there. Combine that with the fact that the Sea is drying up. In a decade, virulent toxic dust storms will bury Leonard Knight's mountain....

    1. Hey John, I guess I never received a notification that you commented but thanks. I had no idea about the plans to turn the Sea into a dump-site. What a real shame. Seems like a dismal end to a location with such an interesting history. I had read that the wet-land area was one of the last locations for migrating birds to go in California. I plan to make one more trip to document this quickly disappearing world. Cheers!