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California Desert 2: The Salton Sea and Anza-Borrego to Julian, California, US - 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, 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, after a bit of a searching, Nosher drove to the water's edge 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, ever visited

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

2005 The supremely serene slipway leading out to Salton Sea.

The supremely serene slipway leading out to Salton Sea.

2005 The top of the pier

The top of the pier

2005 Looking north out over the sea. The placid surface conceals the strange reddish colour of the water

Looking north out over the sea. The placid surface conceals the strange reddish colour of the water

2005 Some of the many dead Tilapia fish, which litter the shell beach

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

2005 Some sort of navigation aid

Some sort of navigation aid

2005 A water-safety sign doesn't seem to get much attention: 'Boat smart from the start - wear your life jacket'

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

2005 The pier in black and white

The pier in black and white

2005 Some pelicans wait on salt-encrusted stumps for passing fish

Some pelicans wait on salt-encrusted stumps for passing fish

2005 A salt crust

A salt crust

2005 Signs hoping to tempt passers by to the waterfront at the West Shores RV Park on Johnson's Landing

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

2005 Vanishing-point road, in the Carrizo Badlands

Vanishing-point road, in the Carrizo Badlands

2005 A perfect example of gently-tilted sedimentary geology

A perfect example of gently-tilted sedimentary geology

2005 Some desert scrub

Some desert scrub

2005 An RV camp out in the desert

An RV camp out in the desert

2005 Moonscape in the badlands

Moonscape in the badlands

2005 The desert road disappears off in to the mountains

The desert road disappears off in to the mountains

2005 Desert foliage - an Ocotillo plant

Desert foliage - an Ocotillo plant

2005 Close-up of prickly spines

Close-up of prickly spines

2005 Some nice clouds looking like dots on dice

Some nice clouds looking like dots on dice

2005 Abandoned golf shop, Borrego Springs

Abandoned golf shop, Borrego Springs

2005 Another nearby derelict building

Another nearby derelict building

2005 Old sign and palm trees on S22, Borrego Springs

Old sign and palm trees on S22, Borrego Springs

2005 Cute fluffy-looking (but definitely not) cacti near Julian, Route 78

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

2005 Aloe plants and mountains, Route 78

Aloe plants and mountains, Route 78

2005 Rays of the setting sun picked out in the haze, between Borrego Springs and Julian

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

2005 Julian's post office

Julian's post office

2005 The mountains of Cuyamaca State Park

The mountains of Cuyamaca State Park

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The supremely serene slipway leading out to Salton Sea.