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California Desert 2: The Salton Sea and Anza-Borrego to Julian - 24th September 2005

Part two of a grand tour of the desert of Southern California (well, 380 miles of it), goes from El Centro north up to the strange and deserted Salton City, by the edge of the Salton Sea. The sea, which has come and gone over thousands of years (and which is the largest lake in California and is 227 feet below sea-level), was last filled by accident from a breach in the Colorado River around 1907, but has been drying out since. Opinions vary on whether the sea is dying a slow death or is a thriving oasis of sea-life. Whichever, I drove to the water's edge (after a difficult job finding it in the first place) expecting it to be a bustling port with boats and stuff. Instead, the place is utterly deserted - silence hangs heavy in the air, interupted only occasionally by the cry of one of the pelicans nearby as it takes listlessly to flight. The sea is 25% saltier than the Pacific, and the smell is similarly more concentrated - dead fish litter the beach, which is made from countless millions of small shells. Nearby, a salt crust covers a small pool. Throughout the entire city, there's barely a sign of life (maybe that's just the season, as it was very hot), apart from another passing visitor who seems somewhat staggered to find a British tourist in the area (even after chatting for a few minutes he thought I must be from Arizona). Leaving Salton, driving through the Anza-Borrega badlands, it was back to the town of Julian and the familiar drive down Route 79 to re-join the I-8. The Salton Sea remains, to-date, one of the weirdest, and yet most memorable places, Nosher has ever been to.

next album: Scenes and People of Balboa Park, San Diego, California - 25th September 2005
previous album: California Desert: San Diego to El Centro - 24th September 2005

The supremely serene slipway leading out to Salton Sea.

Looking north out over the sea. The placid surface making a good mirror, concealing the strange reddish colour of the water

Some of the many dead Tilapia fish, which litter the shell beach

The opposite shore almost disappears in the haze

A water-safety sign doesn't seem to get much attention: 'Boat smart from the start - wear your life jacket'

Some pelicans wait on salt-encrusted stumps for passing fish

A salt crust on a small pool

Signs hoping to tempt passers by to the waterfront at the West Shores RV Park on Johnson's Landing

More vanishing-point roads, in the Carrizo Badlands

A perfect example of gently-tilted sedimentary geology

An RV camp out in the desert

Moonscape in the badlands

The desert road disappears off in to the mountains

Close-up of prickly spines

Some nice clouds looking like dots on dice

Desert scrub. In the foreground, not entirely easily visible, is a real tumbleweed that had just rolled in off the nearby highway!

Abandoned golf shop, Borrego Springs

Close-up of an old sign and chair

Another nearby derelict building

Old sign and palm trees on S22, Borrego Springs

Cute fluffy-looking (but definitely not) cacti near Julian, Route 78

Aloe plants and mountains, Route 78

Rays of the setting sun picked out in the haze, between Borrego Springs and Julian

Julian's post office

Mist over Julian, CA

The mountains of Cuyamaca State Park

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The supremely serene slipway leading out to Salton Sea.