the salton sea

the afternoon of january 14th… plan for cameron’s birthday are yet undecided. the hike to goat canyon trestle in anza-borrego proves impossible, upon further reading, without the use of a jeep or off-read vehicle. what to do? web page after webpage, we search vigilantly in hopes of a breakthrough; nothing, so far, stands out. a few clicks later and we are directed to a page on some shabby desert hiking website devoted to an old 1800’s farm in anza-borrego. seems interesting enough! we try to find it on google maps.

zooming in, it seems to be… wait. there it was, that familiar great body of water; seen every time we open google maps, yet completely neglected. the salton sea.
cameron had wanted to visit for a good while, but never had she — or any of the rest of us — gotten around to it. its name conjured up images of decrepit motels, half-sunken boats and long abandoned trailers; a place all but stripped of its former glory. little did we know what awaited us, and while those were all valid in their existence, there were things far less glamorous that we were to encounter.

january 15th, early morning; kevin is off work and bearing coffees. mmm. starting the day off right!
we prepare our favorite ezekiel bread, baked tempeh, grilled bell pepper, lettuce, and avocado sandwiches, in… well, not so record time, and then we are off.
the drive is lovely, albeit windy, and the slightest bit less green then when we traveled it not so long ago on the way to julian. summer, should we be expecting you?
a long stretch later, and we turn, hugging the mountain, and its bend presents us immediately with a spanning view that humbles one greatly in stature; the desert stretches endlessly out in front of us. the hazy distance can’t cloak our destination; the salton sea spans its lowest regions. a standout beyond miles of desert; it beckons us forward. a hawk soars below us.

we mosey down the ridge and we descend from the craggy high desert and alight at its base, and we may as well have just stepped foot onto mars; the deserts’ expanse is indiscernible from ground-level. a bathroom and snack stop in anza-borrego later…

and we further hug the mountain in search of the inland ocean. red rock and brush cling nappy to the sand; rugged mountains soon give way to fissures, gaping from the ground like the mouths of hungry animals; their gullets fall away what looks like miles as we stand on their cliffsides; a shadowy wash looms beneath our feet, its floor a deadly fall below.


back in the car; soon, we arrive. a harbinger to what this trip will bring stands, decaying, before us.



an old man wanders up the dirt road for a market not but a stone’s throw away; his lips move, but nothing short of grumbles escape. this hotel is his home, and he spares us not but a glance, continuing on his way. we, too, continue on.

with sand below our feet, and the salton sea stretching out in front of us, we have arrived.

it is not long before the choking smell of decay closes in on us. we walk out along the pier; the water beneath us is black, layers of dead fish float on and under its surface.

how could a place once a paradise be neglected so severely that it has fallen into this state of being?


we are enthralled by what we see.



we take it all in. this place is deeply wrong, yet wonderful in that fact. it is a disaster of magnificent proportions. it is a cesspool. like a rotting carcass in a pond, it poisons the land of which it abodes. it is wonderful.



at this point, we weren’t so sure what would come next. stop #2 ended up being this little beach where a few people in a scarce few trailers were playing “lawn” (sand?) bowling in their yard… and garnering quite a crowd. where do these people come from? they live here? why? desperation?

when now lawn bowling, it appears that they spend their time burning last year’s christmas trees.

wanna go for the swim? i’m sure this water is clean.

down the road a little, this sign made it quite clear where we would be heading next.


so the pack of wild dogs running around was a bit unnerving, but we proceed nonetheless.


there’s a market/time machine here. step through the door, suddenly it’s 50 years ago. step out again, and it’s sometime after the impending nuclear war / apocalypse. or just the salton sea. they’re looking pretty interchangeable at this point.

sit and enjoy the sea breeze?


and then there’s this boat/trailer thing, and we’re really not so sure what it is, but it’s pretty cool, right?

another motel sits on the roadside, stoic, decrepit. pigeons eject themselves frantically from the window frame as we draw near. decomposition hangs heavy on the air near this place; something drew its last breath here.

back up the hill.

it appears gaudiness is the only thing here that stood the test of time.

the moderately less gaudy trailer had a much more sombre fate.

yeah, irrelevancies!

we head towards the shore. broken palm trees overlook the water like pillars of a greek temple long felled to ruin.

the sand crackles under our feet as we draw closer to the shoreline; its density it distinctively less, it pulls deeper yet at our feet.
it, upon closer inspection, is made up entirely of bone. hollow-eyed skulls protrude, the rest was long unidentifiable as anything more than a shore comprised completely of bone fragments. this moment alone was greatly sobering.

the sun falls lower in the sky; we, at this point, were certain that the salton sea is not a place you ever want to find yourself in at night. we begin to scout out where we will eat our lunch; our appetites, however, wavered by the day. we find a nice spot a few miles yonder, and we park the car and eat, far enough that the breeze carried to us no decay from the inland ocean.

indisputably, the salton sea is a debacle.

it is a disaster of a grand scale, it is a horrible cesspool of poison and death and rot.
the salinity levels are rising so quickly that in a mere handful of years, the only fish that will be able to survive in its waters are tilapia. despite their ability to cope with the water’s increasing salinity, however, yearly algae blooms kill an unfathomable number of them, too. the birds eat the fish and are poisoned, their carcasses as well can be spotted amongst the fish. even a cat — not but a week dead — lies on the shore, bloated and seeping into the sand that is not sand at all.
it is akin to walking in a nightmare. it is a throwback to any post-apocalyptic movie you can conjure up in your mind. it is in its death throes; it itself, as a whole, is decaying. formed by the colorado river in 1905, it has been dying ever since it came to be.

yet, it is magnificent. it is unfathomable that something like this could even exist, or be allowed to exist. it’s nearly impossible to wrap ones mind around the sheer grandeur of what it holds, both good and bad.

one thing is for certain… we will most definitely be visiting the salton sea again.

First Person Shooter The Movie

I don’t understand this. Why would an alien race thats traveled nearly god knows how many light years away to commit a ground invasion of a planet of nearly Six BILLION people.  Why not just gas the planet? burn it? flood it? If they’re so smart why not commit to a false peace? they’re looking for resources? why don’t you enslave the populous? barter false deceptive deals? hold the world hostage? they obviously have the technology.

All these questions completely make this movie seem so pulpy.  Something out of Mars Attacks. Ground war? Why not an orbital bombardment if your gonna get messy. why get close when you can soften up your targets from a strategically valid high ground. Hover ships; fucking use them to your advantage.  why use them as high speed bombers? why no preemptive strikes? Why attack from the coasts?Why are alien invasion movies so formulaic? Aliens win, humans lose, humans gain tech, humans win/lose.

Why can’t there be a political movie with alien contact and an eventual build up of low tech arms. A kind earth is japan and the aliens are america deal. a rapidly developing nation trying to catch up to the galactic stage of “space westernization”  then finds itself becoming an upstart struggling to find its place, but in the end makes the wrong decisions and gets slammed into dust. wait that was Babylon 5.

It all seems like an excuse to put the story into the grunts point of the view. The first person shooter point of view. What this movie is trying to do is to cash in on the adrenaline filled fast shoot em up action of video games.  And similarly they’re trying to duplicate the same inane illogical stories from those games.  ONE MAN CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. CONFLICT ON A LARGE SCALE. THE ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU/HERO.  The tiresome locale of the battlefield has soaked movie making and video games for the past decade.  Is that all we can think of? what next to shoot? what next to blow up?

What happened to the originality of science fiction, the analogs between present past and eventual or distant future where one could look and find a piece of themselves or their lives they never looked at, and relate to it in some meaningful way? It seems that its all been traded away for the working parts of half thought half inspired ripoffs of Aliens.  People want to see things pop and burn with a little forced drama thrown in. No longer can science fiction be thought provoking or slow lest it sink in a black hole of lost profit. Humanity can never be at eyes height with the hordes of alien aggressors lest they be humanized themselves.  We will always be the victim. There will always be a threat. Yet the threat is against our very humanity which we push away with these films.

As pop culture delves into itself, cannibalistic and roundabout, science fiction seems to find itself at a recycled and regurgitated end. No new ideas are spread. No new worlds sought. No frontiers explored or spared. only the wasteland of the battlefield remains much to the viewers delight.

-Red Mage

simpson park hike

early morning, day off, no plans… what to be done about this? solution? a nice, short hike at a very cool place not at all far from home, one too often overlooked when it comes to planning trips.
we get ready and head out, of course, not forgetting the regulatory stop at starbucks! ah, energy.

we park up near the lookout; the weather is more pleasant today than the days before. it’s just around 10am, and we can leave our jackets in the car. looking promising! things got a bit creepy, briefly, when an old man wandered past us, seeming dazed, and… breathing? wheezing? attempting to whistle? did he see us there? was he aware of where he was? he drew closer yet, but thankfully, it was only to struggle into his car. phew. up the hill we go.


the lake looks extra full after all the rain, and it glows in the early morning sun.


the cactus is backlit by new golden light that flanks the horizon, and the grass glimmers with droplets of water from the melted frost on either side of the trail.


every few steps brings more shutter-snapping; the path leads us onwards.


we stop briefly here to assess which path we want to wander down. pat asserts that this rock is a butt, turned on its side… cameron concludes that it seems much more like some sort of rock monster. it even has a mouth! common ground, however, was not found, so we continue ahead.


the trail starts uphill again, and a snow-capped idyllwild sits pretty past the young orange groves.


we are forced to leave our coffees behind; we set them on a rock and hope for their safety. pat satisfies himself with almonds. crunch crunch crunch. kevin and cameron, with hands now free, preoccupy themselves with snapping pictures profusely.

…it’s a shootout!

kevin used light leaks!


cameron used multiple exposure! (despite kevin’s best efforts, these water tanks prove impervious to climbing.)


light leaks was super effective! the wild cameron fled!


we scrabbled atop a peak of tumbled boulders; the rain left pools in their eroded indentations.


equipped with the power of cowboy boots, pat surveys the land from his perch.


however, scrub brush stretches on as far as the eye can carry, and lunch time calls. (for those of us not chowin’ on almonds.) we conclude it’s time to head back, but not without deciding that another trip to simpson park is in order soon.


ah, coffee. we are reunited at last. the trek back to the car proves not too difficult at all.


a red tail hawk greets us on the way down the hill, but seems to be in quite a hurry. lunch time for you too?

refreshed, energized, and with noon having just barely passed, we head back to enjoy the remainder of our day.

day trip to julian

with zach down and the quaint mountain town of julian having been on our to-do list for months, what better a way to spend the day than an adventure? the morning started off early with a quick stop at henry’s and some hot starbucks coffee, and a call to the site of one of julian’s gold mines to reserve a spot on the train. with our reservations in place, and our brains functioning properly after the addition of some caffeine, we stop back home to get our packed lunch together and we head out. we take the scenic route; an hour or so road trip down down the curiously green sage rd (thank you, rain) culminating in a windy drive through rolling hills and expansive plains blanketed, thoroughly, with wintergrass.

before we know it, we have arrived. after a bit of a struggle finding a parking, we begin our stroll around town. mission 1: get coffee, eat food.

on the way to the cafe! we enjoyed delicious baked tempeh, avocado, grilled bell pepper, lettuce and mushroom sandwiches on ezekiel bread. zach had a bagel and cream cheese as well as a hot apple cider and a giant cookie. (which he had to save for later)

we checked out the town hall.

we bought some snazzy new coffee/tea cups.

we walked around, enjoying the afternoon and got ready to head over to the site of the gold mine, and our train ride.

cameron, bonding with the new cups.

so we head out, and we make it to our destination (despite a wrong turn) about 20 minutes early.

we were greeted by “honeydog”.

of course, zach couldn’t resist checking out the boat, however it wasn’t long-lived; there’s the train, just around the corner!

zach tried to skip some stones… kevin tried to skip some stones… cameron tried to skip some stones. ultimately, no one emerged victorious.

cameron looking for the perfect rock to skip.

after a bit of a wait…

the train arrived. we used our cunning and, of course, ended up in the front.

waiting for the train to leave its station, we enjoyed the pleasant weather. little did we know, it wouldn’t last long.

the tour lasted about an hour and a half, and we were taken around a beautiful property on the train.

we stopped to check out the mine, and zach got to ride in the mine cart, and got a candycane. we walked down the hill, and zach panned for gold, and despite his determination to bag more, ended up with only one piece.

luckily, its weight garnered him 2 pieces of candy, so with that, we was satisfied; he also got some hot chocolate. lucky. no coffee to be found in this place; so meanwhile, the rest of us nearly froze to death.

happy to be back on the train, we headed back to the station. despite the cold, it was a beautiful trip, and a perfect day. the sun slipped below the horizon right as we got back into julian. time for one more coffee stop.

and a locally-grown apple for dinner from this little market.

zach finally got to enjoy his cookie, and after we finished chowing on apples, it was time to head home.

and so the adventure concluded.