Travel Diary - The Salton Sea
We drove South on Highway 111, along the eastern edge of the Salton Sea. Decades of damming and desolation have left a uniquely sad yet beautiful landscape. As the Sea slowly dries up, former 1950's tourist communities like Bombay Beach have been partially or completely abandoned. The closest town is miles away, south of the sea, so we brought a picnic. Tilapia are the only thing living in the Sea's often-toxic waters, though many of them wash up on shore. If the lack of habitation and rows of dead fish ringing the shore didn't tip you off, the sulfurous smell lets you know things are a bit rotten around here.
But it's a strangely alluring place, almost like an oasis. The soft, hazy blue and white landscape and sturdy green palms betray the harsher realities of this place. The beach is not fine white sand as it appears from far away, but a coarse blend of bleached bone and shell. It crunches like snow under your feet, and by the shoreline mixes with the sludgy water to form a strange mud. The hardy palm trees look like they can withstand the wind; up close, you can see the sharp teeth needed to survive in a place like this.