The Salton Sea is one of the most interesting stories of a once booming Rivera formed when the Colorado River burst through diversion canals. This created California’s largest inland lake. What is even more peculiar is a town that was one of the greatest tourist attractions in the US becoming a “post-apocolyptic” wasteland. Obviously this is the perfect destination for a great cheap last minute memorial day camping trip.
We landed a pretty sweet camping spot for Friday night Memorial Day weekend camping 2 days before the trip. This was literally the only place in Southern California that I could find that had plenty of spots available this late in the game. I’m glad we gave it a shot. We spent our first afternoon drinking a sweet concoction Ashley and I made called Hippie Juice while we shot cans with a bb gun. This was super great. We were eventually asked to stop because we were making some the nearby parents a little nervous. The State Rec area was pretty nice. There was like 20 other people there to camp for the holiday weekend. We could walk to the sea from the campsite. It took like 5 minutes. There were plenty of fisherman that we annoyed as we wandered out into the sea. That’s right we got in the water… not to far though just ankle deep. And it was super gross. I really don’t recommend it, well unless you are drunk.
That’s right we got in the water… not to far though just ankle deep. And it was super gross. I really don’t recommend it, well unless you are drunk.
A retirement place for the enstranged
This is one of the coolest towns ever. We drove to this town Saturday morning from our campground. It was about 20 minutes south of the SRA. We drove around for about an hour just looking at the trailers and watching people ride their dirt bikes and ATVs.
We parked right on the beach. There were only 2 other cars there. You had to climb up and over the dike to see the sea. Other tourists roamed the shoreline looking for treasurers and curious old items. I was expecting there to be dead fish everywhere and for the smell to be a bit more overwhelming but it was not bad. There were little schools of dead fish, maybe 3 or 4 here and there but not thousands. There were millions of fish bones everywhere.
As we continued to wander down the deserted Bombay Beach, we stumbled across a little red cove. It seemed to be clay and some kind of nasty agricultural poopy stuff surrounded by sum lush shrubbery. There was actually a car or maybe just a bumper sticking right out in the middle. We through some rocks in to feel out the consistency. It was basically red mud.
After hangin’ at the beach for a while we decided to rummage through the town and find some cool old stuff. The first place we checked out was a trailer just along the coast which is probably the most heavily visited and vandalized spot in Bombay Beach. First I wandered around the main floor admiring some of the artwork and old rickety stuff. Then I took some creaky old steps up to the shady roof. It was a pretty neat view of both the beach, looking over the berm, as well as the town. We drove around the town some more looking for strange people, places, and things. About 75% of the trailers and homes were occupied leaving the rest abandoned or gone completely with only trash, boats, partial structures, and other random crap left behind. I walked around the desert town for a bit taking pictures of broken down boats and graffiti but it was hot. About 103 degrees that day actually. Here are some neat/weird things we came across. It started to get a little hot so I got back in the car and we driving toward this restaurant when we saw this strange leopard skinned ball on a porch. I had to do a double take. A black man sitting on his porch with what appeared to be only a blanket and a fly swatter sat still as a statue. Was this dude real? I really could not tell. So we drove by his house a 2nd time, this time obnoxiously slow and creepily. Definitely a man. So Arley and I, the intrigued little boys we are, decided to go talk to him and ask him about his life here in Bombay Beach. So we parked and walked up to his fence. There was about a 30 yard gap between us and him. We introduced ourselves and asked him if he enjoyed living in this interesting city by the sea. It was kinda hard to hear his mumbling voice but he sounded like he really liked it. He introduced himself as “Brown”. Eventually he invited us to come talk to him under the cool shade of his porch. We learned that Brown and many of the other townspeople really want the sea to be a big booming vacation spot again. I mean who wouldn’t?! He actually lived in LA for a while but moved out to Bombay Beach to settle down and retire. The land and property value is very low in this town. We spotted a few places for sale in the $30,000 range. So we talked a while about fishing, camping, and hospitals… Yeah there are only 2 hospitals around and they are both 40 miles away. That’s one of the downfalls for Brown who has diabetes and has needed urgent attention in the past. Finally we said our goodbyes, decided to give Browns a few bucks for fish bate and we headed outta there. After a long day of walking around in the sun, we decided to stop and get some refreshments on our way out. There was really only 1 option. The Ski Inn… It was a really great little shack of a bar. When we walked in, we were greeted by a rowdy bunch of locals. What better song to be playing than “I Love This Bar” by Toby Keith. I bought a 7 Up and a box of cheese fries for dirt cheap. It really was like $3 or something. The owner of the establishment, Wendell really charmed it up and told us all about the town and the restaurant. When I asked him how he started up the place, he said he actually bought the bar for a friend of his and then he never paid him back. So here he is today. After a half hour or so of talking to Wendell about the thrive of the city in the 80’s we decided to head out. Our fun Memorial Day retreat will stay with me forever. It was the best of time and I can’t wait to go back to this abandoned city by the sea.