Navigating the CA & AZ Desert ~ Part 1

Roughly three weeks ago, I made the journey to California to drop off my daughter for her winter break. This is an eight hour roundtrip trek. I figured since I’m already traveling a great distance, I might as well take a detour on the way back and explore with my camera in tow!

I started near Joshua Tree National Forest and that in itself was a possible destination. I grew up in the Joshua Tree rich Antelope Valley so I wasn’t too keen on seeing something I’m so familiar with. I wanted to see something new! Instead, I decided to head towards the Salton Sea.

Venturing off Interstate 10, I took Box Canyon Road which leads to the city of Mecca. This road also travels near the San Andreas Fault, which makes for some great rock formations to check out as you travel along the fourteen mile stretch before exiting and crossing the Coachella Canal.

Rock formation created by the San Andreas Fault

Rock formation created by the San Andreas Fault

 

Driving through the canyon

Driving through the canyon

 

Coachella Canal

Coachella Canal

Driving six miles past the Coachella Canal, I could see the Salton Sea. This large body of water is the largest lake in California. It’s also man-made by mistake! In 1905, some engineers diverted water from the Colorado River to this farming area. The canals were not able to sustain this amount of water and overflowed into the Salton Basin, filling the dry lake bed. For two years, it overflowed before action was taken to correct the matter.

Pelican flying along the Salton Sea shore

Pelican flying along the Salton Sea shore

The Salton Sea became a well sought out tourist attraction in the 50’s and 60’s. People started buying land, building homes, restaurants and even a yacht club! This was short lived. By the 1970’s, the salinity of the lake increased, in combination with pesticides from local farms, which ultimately killed the lake. The fish started dying off in droves, creating a stench that still exists there today. All construction of homes, streets and all else was quickly abandoned.

One area along the Salton Sea is Bombay Beach. It was an up and coming area to reside in until the lake took a turn for the worst. I stopped here to see what was left and was shocked to see people still live here. There are 295 people according to a 2010 census. There are also ruins from unfinished streets littered with power poles. Buildings that had simply fallen apart over time and others still standing with disturbing, interesting graffiti. As many have described before me, it’s quite apocalyptic and I agree whole heartedly.

Welcome! =P

Welcome! =P

 

This used to be all underwater.

This used to be all underwater.

 

Unfinished Streets

Unfinished Streets

 

Ruins of Bombay Beach

Ruins of Bombay Beach (See the stove?!?!)

 

Ruins of Bombay Beach

Ruins of Bombay Beach

While continuing my drive through Bombay Beach, I did enjoy the local resident decorations that added to the strangeness that remains.

 

 

I look forward to another opportunity to spend more time in Bombay Beach and perhaps to interact with the local residents. I’m sure they have some interesting stories that I would love to hear and share. This time I had to move on and continue my adventure home, heading along the Salton Sea and the neighboring train tracks.

The continuation of this blog will touch base on my experience through Slab City, Salvation Mountain, the Imperial Sand Dunes and more. Thank you for reading, share your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned!

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