Southern California 2 – Salton Sea, Sand Storm and a High Desert


This post is one in a series about a recent trip to Southern California. To “Like” the entire series, click here.

The Salton Sea is a tale of human hubris and folly: trying to create a “seas side resort” in the middle of a desert that is below sea level. Slowly however, the dream faded. With little fresh water input and no natural outlet, the sea grew saltier as it shrank. (Although, at 15 miles by 35 miles—24 km by 56 km—it is still immense. You can see why they called it a ‘sea’ and not a ‘lake’!) Now, not even most ocean dwelling fish can survive in it and the water’s edge is far from the decaying houses and docks that were once pitched as prime real estate.




Dead seaweed with heavy salt deposits dried on it:



This dock was where speed boats were once launched for water skiers:


After we left Salton City and headed west to return to our resort in Escondido (a town about an hour’s drive north of San Diego) we drove directly into the teeth of a sand storm on the plains of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Driving through such a storm is a surreal experience if ever there was one! But I confess that in the comfort of our air-conditioned rental, it was a lot easier for us than the five cyclists who came out of the storm, each with their heads hastily muffled in makeshift turbans to keep out the dust.






On leaving the area with the sand storm, we drove up a steep mountainside on a series of sharp switchbacks. The final photos of this post are all panoramas (click on the photo to see a larger version of the image; click on this larger version to see it at full size.) If you look closely on the left side of the second panorama, you will see a brown, fuzzy haze. That is the sand storm that we had driven through, still blowing on the plain below.

As always, special thanks to my dearest spouse Lyn, who does all the heavy lifting in selecting the photos. And thank you sincerely for dropping by the Book of Bokeh. I would also like to invite you to visit my Book of Pain  poetry blog.


Notice the sandstorm still blowing on the horizon on the left of this image:




All photographs and comments ©John Etheridge with all rights reserved; not to be used without the expressed written permission of the copyright owner.


8 thoughts on “Southern California 2 – Salton Sea, Sand Storm and a High Desert

    • These are from late April…but it was hot enough then! I think it would be torture right now. In fat, my company’s sister plant is in Phoenix…and what they have been going through this last month is sheer torture! My kids in Kansas say it is hard there too…the humidity is terrible this time of the year.

      Me?! I LOVE New England in the summer! 🙂

  1. Wow! You are in Hollerdom! Are you still here? You were brave to explore Anza and the Salton Sea in mid-summer, temps routinely soar to 120F. I hope you went to the Sony Bono Bird Preserves. Are you staying in the Welk Resort? Your photos of the desert are stunning, especially the sand storms over the Anza road. Did you take Banner Pass up or go through Ranchita? The part of the Sea you photographed here are like a post-apocoplytic nuclear wasteland aren’t they? It shows how destructive human development can be. Wonderful post!

    • Well, first off, the photos are from a while ago…late April. It was hot enough then, I cannot imagine what it would be like now! No, the Sony Bono Bird Preserve was something I did not make it to…but would have liked to, we also did not make it to the park with the tall, old palm trees, nor the Hale Observatory on Mount Palomar, nor a dozen other things in the area. Obviously we have to go back. We must have done Banner Pass (hiway 78?) because I do not think we did Ranchita. To be honest, I did not think, afterwards, that I did the Salton Sea justice and I was reluctant to do Salton City because people live there and who am I to denigrate their lifestyle. Knowing what I know now, I’d like to give it another chance.

      So where is the Holler if I was close? Oh, and yes we stayed at the Welk Resort…I liked it but my sister LOVED it.

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