On a recent trip to Joshua Tree National Park, we took a detour and visited the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is the 2nd largest saltwater lake in the US - just behind the Great Salt Lake. Unfortunately, the Salton Sea is no longer the vacation and resort destination it was envisioned in the 1940's and 1950's. Only a couple hours from Los Angeles, the Salton Sea was going to be the resort hangout of the stars. And for awhile it was.
But today, it is a dying, polluted lake that is getting more toxic each day. It is surrounded by white sand beaches (crushed fish skeletons) and the skeletons of resort towns like Desert Shores and Bombay Beach. They aren't completely deserted and people still live there. But the 1,000 people that live in these resort towns are surrounded by the skeletons of houses, roads, and parks. Grand avenues that lead nowhere, street signs in the middle of the desert, and a fire station standing alone - that is the image of the resort towns around the Salton Sea.
While in Desert Shores we spoke to the bartender of the local VFW. Now in her late sixty's she told us about her youth and how she waterskied across the entire width of the Salton Sea - on three separate occasions! She was quite proud of her accomplishment, she enjoyed talking about her youth, and most importantly of all - she saw Western Shores and the Salton Sea for what it meant to her. I think she had a very different picture of it than we did.
Appropriately, she directed us to Bombay Beach and the Ski Inn... home of the "best burger on the Salton Sea". The image at the top of this blog post is the sign in the parking lot of the place where we had lunch that day. And I'll let you decide how the story ends on the burger.