The Salton Sea is a strange place to be. The smell of sulphur rises through the air as dust blows past you from racing ATVs in nearby mountains. An occasional breeze blows. For all the roaring engines and hollering, staring out at it’s stillness brings a quiet calm.
Most come here for the fun of riding all day, whether it be on a motorcycle or a Jeep. I suppose I come out for that as well, but something about the desert calls me. Behind the noise is a beautiful place. The red rocks that run through unmapped canyons, the shrubs blowing, the occasional butterfly. The way the sun beams through the spotty clouds. It casts strange shadows on the ground from peculiar rocks. The way it reflects off the Salton Sea. A sort of inner peace hidden among revving and motor oil.
The Salton Sea is a disgusting thing up close. The aforementioned smell of sulfur, the heavy saltwater that kills the fish. Abandoned motels stand near the sludge covered shore, a rusty reminder of a once thriving resort paradise. An old state parks sign for Bombay Beach reflects the sun’s rays like a flashlight in an apocalyptic wasteland. However, from a distance, it looks like an oasis in the distance. The lake covered with slime and carcases turns into a still wonder, a spectacle in a bone dry desert. Occasionally a train will run past it, and you’ll snap back to reality.
The sunset out there is something that would be hard to even describe in words. The clashing of pink and yellow on navy sky softened by the ever present fog of dust is something that words cannot do justice. When the sun does set, the sand turns cold and stars blaze overhead. The stars are so bright you can almost see the way they curve around the Earth. It’s absolutely spectacular. At night, from a high vantage point, you can see the lights from campers and the stars shine like spotlights. It feels like Mars.
The Salton Sea and the desert bring me peace, even if the water is black and the air dusty.