A few months ago, Derek and I watched a really interesting documentary called Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea. The film is all about this big body of salty water down below Palm Springs that used to be a vacation spot where people waterskiied and fished and hung out drunk by the Yacht club until the whole place flooded, leaving only a few brave people that still call the place home. There are also major salinity issues, and big algae blooms that cause huge amounts of dead fish every year to wash ashore (think 3 feet high in some places), so nobody swims in the Sea or lives down there anymore, even though it is the cheapest real estate you can find in California. Basically, the place looked fascinating, so Derek and I went down there for the President's Day weekend to see the marvels of the Sea for ourselves.
We set up our tent in the dark, and awoke to this scene. Pretty!
Then we stepped outside of the tent and saw this:
In fact, once we walked outside, there were dead and drying fish remains everywhere. This was kind of exciting, because it was what we were expecting of the Sea. I made Derek this Valentine to celebrate.
Perhaps because the Sea is so remote, there is a lot of crazy stuff in the surrounding area. My favorites were:
1) Cabazon Dinosaurs
You would have stopped too if you had seen the billboards advertising a "Robotic Dinosaur Exhibit."
Come to find out ... this is the place with the huge dinosaurs that you can walk inside of, which you may recognize from such awesome films as Pee-wee's Big Adventure and The Wizard.
(INSIDE the mouth of Mr. Rex)
It does not take long to realize that the whole exhibit was pushing the Young Earth creationist belief that most dinosaurs were created on Earth about 6,000 years ago - the same day as Adam and Eve.
Which meant there were signs like this all over the place, emphasizing that Evolution NEVER happened ...
And, a lot of the exhibits have men in medieval costume fighting dinosaurs.
2) Salvation Mountain
Also close to the Sea is Salvation Mountain, where a man named Leonard Knight has been painting the side of a mountain since the 80s.
This paint, plus a mountain, some haybales, and a serious obsession with the Bible ...
3) Slab City
Salvation Mountain marks the entrance to Slab City, a little dessert community built around some concrete slabs and pylons that remain from an abandoned World War II base. They call themselves the "last free place," since the site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, and though there is no electricity or running water, there is also no charge to be there. This attracts a lot of people that either can't afford to live anywhere else, or people with a desire for freedom from the American government.
This is how you find people in this little makeshift town. "Come find me! I'm over by the Pirate Flag, near Mark the Barber."
I thought it was cute that they have this library set up that anyone can go hang out in and borrow books from.
We added our mermaid that we had found while visiting the dinosaurs to the Human Powered Fountain, and felt pretty good about our contribution to the Library.
This trip made me want to start exploring all the weird and wonderful spots in the US. Any suggestions for future travels?