If you can tolerate scorching temperatures and find beauty in the strangest places then you may take interest in the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is California's largest lake (being around 370 miles ) and is completely saline, with salinity levels higher than the Pacific Ocean. The lake was created by a flood due to water that flowed from the Colorado River. The first thing one may notice when entering the area is the rotting smell of fish and the desolate ghost town. Apparently the Salton Sea was a popular hot spot, almost like a 'beach resort' during the 1950's. My dad was an avid fishermen here in the 1980's and even then still remembers how crowded the place would be with tourists, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. However, this is definitely not the case as of today nor has it been for the past 15 years or so. I regret not being able to take photos of the rundown houses and buildings that were left to deteriorate in the sweltering heat (this is partly due to the massive amount of flies that swarm you when you leave your vehicle). Driving through one of the only standing places-Bombay Beach gave me such an eery feeling. I remember seeing one abandoned building in particular. It was located at the end of a dead field of weeds and near the roof someone wrote in large black letters, "Before entering abandon all ye hope". I admit that gave me the shivers along with the other places that looked straight from the movie Silent Hill.
The 'Sea' area itself gives you a different feel from the deserted town. When approaching the water what may appear to be sand is actually a mixture of bones and shells. I cannot recount how many times in the past I ran happily towards the 'sand' eager to get close to the water to find myself shrieking in horror from the realization that it was fish bones. Also, how could I forget that lovely touch of fish carcases that decorate the shoreline in hundreds...if not thousands?! Very few species of fish are able to survive due to the rising salinity levels and during the summer Tilapia seem to be the only lake dwellers. In all honesty I'd rather have it that way because Tilapia is my favorite fish and is the tastiest! We caught so many, I'm guessing 50 at least, so you can imagine how excited I am for all the upcoming fish frys. I'm sure this is true with any natural food but when you get something from its natural resource your palette gets accustomed to the fresh taste and anything store bought ends up tasting like garbage; Tilapia from the seafood department at my grocery store tastes unnatural and is totally farm raised. Any who, enduring the 106+ temperatures and traveling for miles on barren land was totally worth the abundant catch we received.
Aside from the Salton Sea I found the surrounding area to be quite interesting. In this area there are a few border patrol checkpoints and officers in armored pick up trucks who are on the watch for suspicious behavior or suspects, illegal crossers and Coyotes smuggling people across. It only makes sense considering the Salton Sea's close proximity to the Mexican border. When I think of the operations of it all it puts me in awe. I mean, this place is still some ways away from Mexicali yet if crossers do make it through the border or any other route from the mountains all you think about is the unforgiving heat and lacking terrain that they had to journey through to enter California. I nearly left the car for two minutes and immediately felt my skin burning and body perspiring. It just makes you think that people will really do whatever it takes to achieve a higher standard or living or for whatever other reason is for their crossing. The subject is generally a touchy one especially for the states that border Mexico. Overall, I wasn't fixated on the politics of illegal immigration but being physically present in this open desert space made me wonder how the crossers managed to survive the harsh elements while avoiding heavy security.