Thursday, July 14, 2005


Yesterday we headed into even hotter heat as we traveled south from Desert Hot Springs to visit the scorching electric-blue mirror of shattered dreams that is the Salton Sea. Beside the 120-degree heat-shimmering road we followed stood a headless giant offering live bait for use in the salty-shored blue water that is 90 degrees warm, 25% saltier than the ocean and getting steadily saltier; you don't swim in it, you swim on it. But no one was swimming there, no one was boating there, no one was there, except us. Until we got to Bombay Beach, to describe which will take much more time than I can grab right now.

Along the Sea stood abandoned and salt-threatened marinas, motels, playgrounds, docks, bait stores, restaurants, hotels and related signage, all from the rocket-finned 50's, when things were looking up, now standing empty, boarded, hollow, peeling, salt-scored, vacancy signs still hanging hopefully, as if everyone had left not long ago and would be back tomorrow to try again, all in the midst of that eye-searing electric blue that makes you squint there in the heat that sucks the moisture right out of your body while you walk around on the salt crust marveling among the bright mod ruins laid out in the shapes life's dreams took before that still blue mirror of the Salton Sea, spread out before the chocolate-colored mountains.

I am burned with the natural beauty of the place, the stark scorch of that majestic backdrop to the forlorn museum of abandoned dreams, that stand waiting in the shimmering blue silence, still bearing all the streamlined optimistic dynamism of the 50's.

I've got to go back there and explore at more length, find the painted mountain, explore Bombay Beach. As my brother said, "If I were a UFO captain, I'd land in Bombay beach."

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