Ocean to Inland Sea: the Salton Sea

To break up the long drive home, I decided to stop and stay a night on the east side of the Salton Sea at a state park campground, yet to sleep in my car for the one night … that is one reason I built the bed platform! I drove the most scenic route from San Diego to the Salton Sea. I drove past ranches and vineyards, then on winding roads through mountains with a stop in the small town of Julian known for its pies. Through national forest land and state parks all looking like perfect areas to return to someday and camp. At lunch time, I pulled off the road and while I ate I worked on my journal.

Hinged kitchen shelf worked well!

Then the landscape dramatically changes as you soon drive through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the Salton Sea. Plenty of history about this area. I settled in at the campground which meant I drove my car in. Nothing else to do since all is contained in my car and I would not be setting up a tent. Down at the water’s edge I did cook some dinner and look for birds. New birds for me here: lesser nighthawk, Forster’s tern, black-bellied plover and eared grebe. Unfortunately I could not get a photo of the one tern that flew over, but a local birder acknowledged for me that it was the type of tern seen in this area.

I love seeing birds having fun so I had to capture these photos:

My eventual goal, beyond learning what bird is what and bird photography, is to capture birds in interesting activity. All these skills will come together some day. Finally time to sleep and keep the annoying black flies out my sleeping area. I finally have a chance to test my mosquito netting on the back of my car. I rigged it from a baby carriage mosquito netting. I will report, it worked great, but then again once the air temperature got cool the flies were not hanging around. My three season sleeping bag was perfect as the cool temperatures arrived around 2AM.

The next morning I met a friend for breakfast and then was on my way home. During the pandemic, which we are still in until we reach herd immunity in this country as far as I am concerned, I did travel, wear a mask and for the most part stay away from many people. I am fortunate to enjoy this type of activity. So this adventure was well worth it for me and I will have to think of what will be my next road trip.

In the meantime, I encourage all to get vaccinated. As more places open up here and around the world, I do believe proof of vaccination will be required. Till my next adventure, let me leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors Henry David Thoreau, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”.

Salton Sea, CA… What is its Future?

Last week I visited the Salton Sea, about one hour south of Palm Desert, CA. I had seen a Sunday Morning television program discussing the importance and the hopeful future of the Salton Sea, thus when I was in the area it was important for me to check it out.

My first stop along its water’s edge was at a campground that had a coastline a half mile long of seabirds comfortably landing, swimming, eating, and with no concern about the people watching them. Fortunately in many places there was greenery growing so we could hide behind and let the birds do their thing. (Interesting to see the various people watching the birds too…some photographers had amazing lenses on their cameras, but the reality is one simply needs to observe.)

birds at Salton Sea
Many birds land at the Salton Sea!

The Salton Sea is an important migratory flight path for the birds that travel north and south. Without this water the birds would not survive. They need the water, the tilapia (a fish that seems to do well in the salty water), algae and other food within the sea, and a place to land comfortably.

It is true the sea is getting smaller because there are three inlets and no water leaving by way of an outlet, but its water is evaporating. The sea is located in an area where air temperatures can easily reach 100 degrees plus in the summer, and in the winter it never gets cold….except at night when the sun goes down! Thus the water’s edge has been diminishing and you will see fish carcasses and skeletons when you walk closer to the water. Even though the water is 50% saltier than the Pacific Ocean it is only 1/3 the saltiness found in the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

You will find dead fish at Salton Sea.
You will find dead fish at Salton Sea.

Many people study the sea; many are passionate about its importance for birds; many are happy to be living almost off the grid in their small communities around the sea. Agricultural entities have produce grown and shipped around the world. I had never seen so much hay in my life….piled high with numerous trucks driving it out. There are also 11 geothermal plants using the energy from deep within the earth.

An alternative energy: geothermal...making use of the earth's heat from deep within.
An alternative energy: geothermal…making use of the earth’s heat from deep within.

I spent all day driving the entire distance around the sea, with the first stop being the best to see the birds. There are excellent educational exhibits and films to see so one can learn more about the sea, its future, and to talk with people who care about it. If you have a day to visit the Salton Sea, consider a visit!