Way back in October 2007 we had a brief visit to the Salton Sea. We only visited a small part of the northeast shore and there is so much we missed. There wasn't time to visit Salvation Mountain near Niland, California or to travel to the western and southern shore of the lake. We were making our way home from Bisbee, Arizona by way of Interstate 8 and the green fields of the Imperial Valley. Bombay Beach was just off the road so we stopped to stretch our legs in the ever popular photo spot filled with salt-crusted, abandoned furniture, and derelict structures.
After uploading this photo mrs. a-go-go found on Flickr many portraits of the same chair from the previous two years. The chair seemed to be making the rounds to visit all the neighbors and see how they're holding up.
The Salton Sea and the developments on its shores are much maligned, but it's an extraordinary and surreal place. A number of structures on the Bombay Beach shore line have been left to shrivel as the sun and the salt whittle them down. It feels a little sad but the place has earned that ghost town charm of splintering dried out frames and scattered odd debris. I've heard tall tales about the stink of the lake, but that day there was just a hint of under-the-pier-damp smell. The horror stories are probably overblown unless it's bacteria bloom season. There are still a significant number of residents at Bombay Beach. Some of the houses are kept in a reasonably good state, others are suffering in spite of the efforts of the owners.
The late afternoon was warm and still. Looking up, the sky was a deep blue, but standing at the edge of the dead calm lake it was impossible to distinguish lake from sky in the distant sand colored haze.
Just before sundown we piled back in the car to continue on our way home. The raking light brought out the very best in the Chocolate Mountains to the East. They really did look edible. I checked the map and was delighted to learn such an appropriate name for the range. Then looking closer, I noticed that a large area in the Chocolate Mountains is an active aerial gunnery range for the Navy and Marines. That put to bed any notion of visiting there on future trips. Apparently, there is a rich gold deposit in the mountains and a little research hinted that gold mining rights to the mountains have been bought up in anticipation of the eventual closure of the gunnery range. Sorry to imagine the worst, but I can't help grimace at the likelihood that once the military is done making pot holes the mountains will be strip mined. It's a shame... the area has kept its beautiful desolate face in spite of the accidental salt lake and the ill fated resort development. I wonder if the mountains will still make me think of rumpled bon-bons after the gold is rooted out.