The Salton Sea


This topic stepped to the front of the line to talk about because it’s been in the media lately, climate change, and California’s drought are taking their toll. I haven’t seen anything in the media about whether recent storms have reversed the last four years of drought at the Salton Sea, all the reportage has been about more dramatic events – floods, dam spillways over flowing, huge snow in the Sierras.

The sea has been alternately flooded, become saline, dried up many times over in tens of thousands of years.

‘Dry lake’ is kind of an oxymoron but try to wrap your head around it anyway!

What exists now was partially created by a monstrous blunder but came to be regarded as permanent until recently. It was hoped to be a resort destination to rival Vegas, and for a while it was.

Remnants of those days remain, stark reminders of the temporary dreams.



Here’s a good map, it shows what flows into the sea, but there is no outflow, what collects slowly evaporates, which makes the lake so saline.


I quote from wikipedia:

“The most recent inflow of water from the now heavily controlled Colorado River was accidentally created by the engineers of the California Development Company in 1905. In an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. Due to fears of silt buildup, a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed.

“The Salton Sea has been termed a “crown jewel of avian biodiversity” by Dr. Milt Friend of the Salton Sea Science Office. Over 400 species have been documented at the Salton Sea. The most diverse and probably the most significant populations of bird life in the continental United States are hosted, rivaled only by Big Bend National Park in Texas.[21] It supports 30% of the remaining population of the American white pelican.[22] The Salton Sea is also a major resting stop on the Pacific Flyway. On 18 November 2006, a Ross’s gull, a high Arctic bird, was sighted and photographed there.”

Robert Misrach made startling photographs of the place many years ago.

The sea’s future is in doubt, up for grabs, who knows what tomorrow may bring? Neither of us, No one.

“Unfortunately, little thought and few resources were devoted to the management of this accidental lake. As a terminal lake, the Salton Sea lacks any outflow, and in the late 1970s a series of heavy tropical storms caused the water level to rapidly rise and flood its banks.  The surrounding towns and businesses were severely damaged, many beyond repair, and tourism began to shift away. In the 1990s the lake began to recede dramatically, stranding many of the remaining residences and businesses, as changing water-management priorities diverted more water from agricultural areas to cities.”

A long and very interesting article:

“It’s heyday was the 50’s and 60’s, it was called “the french riviera of the west.”

Bombay Beach is the town where I took the most images, it’s a very quiet lonely place now, vacant lots for sale, roadrunners skittering across the street, dogs could nap in the middle of the streets, and live long lives. The couple of people i chatted with seemed to be castaways from society, come here to live on air, soc sec. or disability, maybe some veteran’s monthly check. A small one. They’ve checked out of society at large. Let’s hope we don’t end up here in our ‘golden years’. Or maybe not, maybe we’d like it. In one of the articles i read the current residents were quoted as saying they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

A beautiful sky reflected off the glassy lake is reason enough to stay.

1280px-salton_sea_reflectionAs for the rest of it? I dunno … only the hearty would want to stick around.

I had a lot of photo fun w/ the place.




As the Terminator most famously said “Ah’ll be back” – i second that emotion.


Someone is talking to me…

The world is full of words, babble, and psycho-babble, & images, all on the internet, your iPhone, tablet, TV shows, magazines, whatever it is, blasting you at whatever speed you can afford, or can take in. A cacophony, a never ending stream of who knows what – in many cases it’s BS.

Trump, Kardashians, ISIS, anything middle-eastern, anything remotely apocalyptic – hurricanes, earthquakes…You don’t need me to continue this list. If i could add a BS filter to sort thru this, separate wheat from chaff, would anyone’s mailbox/inbox look like?


There’s a Rolling stones song on ‘Between the Buttons’ – ‘i am waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to come out of somewhere’. I read some good magazines though – Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, the New Yorker. Now there’s somethings to dig your teeth into.

I will make reference to astonishing artist who lived centuries ago, and did some marvelous work – illustrating passages from the bible concerning the apocalypse, which seems to be a topic of significant interest these days, since many people seem to think we are approaching one.

I loved Albrecht Durer’s woodcuts as soon as i saw them.


I quote from a source i didn’t bookmark or save:

“The third and most famous woodcut from Dürer’s series of illustrations for The Apocalypse, the Four Horsemen presents a dramatically distilled version of the passage from the Book of Revelation (6:1–8): “And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its rider had a balance in his hand; … When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given great power over a fourth of the earth; to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” Transforming what was a relatively staid and unthreatening image in earlier illustrated Bibles, Dürer injects motion and danger into this climactic moment through his subtle manipulation of the woodcut. The parallel lines across the image establish a basic middle tone against which the artist silhouettes and overlaps the powerful forms of the four horses and riders—from left to right, Death, Famine, War, and Plague (or Pestilence). Their volume and strong diagonal motion enhance the impact of the image, offering an eloquent demonstration of the masterful visual effects Dürer was able to create in this medium.”

To tell ya the truth, i haven’t owned or watched (a) TV in over a decade. The only few American newspapers worth reading are the NYT, the WSJ and maybe the LA Times. If the revolution will be televised? I might miss it. 

I may have touched on this topic before, and I’ve definitely posted some of the images. But i constantly review my images, looking for new possibilities, be they photographic or literary. So here’s some thoughts that struck me, in opposition to all the noise in the world.

Many, many times when i am in some deep desert place, i feel like someone is talking to me. Who ever it was definitely spent some time and effort, chiseling into rock.

Sometimes they were talking to each other, saying ‘the people are here’:



Other times they were talking to someone, anyone, in the future. Maybe they were talking to their gods… who knows.





What they say to me is how much these people thought… about anything, everything. How ingenious they were to suspend themselves high above, on a canyon wall, to do their work. Probably growing crops and hunting game was arduous enough – survival was difficult,  yet they did this work. Now a very few rock climbers can scale amazing heights, no rope, just bare hands, but i doubt someone scaled these faces, held on with but one hand using the other to make the ‘glyph.

Artists these days? I am not sure how many are really trying to communicate as these people were, i think a lot of it is ego, self absorption, business as usual, commerce – you can make money making art? Wow, you are really getting over on the world. Durer was saying something to anyone who could listen about his beliefs, and the Book of Revelation.

These glyphs are constantly under assault, as are the many artifacts found in the four corners/desert area:

One man has chronicled desecration:


Finders Keepers 

A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession

Beyond what most people think about archaeology–with its cleanly numbered dates, and discoveries–lies a vibrant and controversial realm of scientists, thieves, and contested land claims.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Childs (The Animal Dialogues) intermingles personal experiences as a desert ecologist and adventurer with a journalistic look at scientists, collectors, museum officials, and pot hunters to explore what should happen to ancient artifacts. Questioning whether artifacts should be left in place, Childs argues that although surface surveys and electronic imaging permit study of buried objects without digging, that reliance on technology risks the loss of the “physical connection to the memory of ancient people.” Yet he mourns the loss of context that comes from removing, say, the Temple of Dendur from its natural environment. On the other hand, he scrutinizes the “stewardship” of past archeologists who removed sacred objects when “o one thought indigenous cultures would survive to start demanding their things back,” returns now required by U.S. law. Childs is critical of museum facilities inadequate to protect items that archeologists removed from their sites precisely to preserve them from destruction. He is also unhappy with the legal sale of relics to collectors, which he believes led to “more digging and smuggling.” His own “collection” consists of finds he has left in place across the Southwest. But, he says, artifacts that cannot safely be left in place should go to museums. This is an engaging and thought-provoking look at one of the art and artifacts’ world’s most heated debates. 

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Links for the month:

I grew up in Maine, from 5 to 10 YO, the land can be rugged, rolling, and fierce sometimes.

Spring and fall are tolerable, summer and winter, not so much. I am glad this has been established, the northern part of the state is pretty wild and rugged.

What San Francisco Says About America

“San Francisco — AFTER more than 27 years abroad, mostly as a foreign correspondent in Asia covering civil unrest and poverty, I wander the streets of this city, my new home, like an enchanted tourist.

The people who share sidewalks with me must wonder why I sometimes laugh out loud. The advertisements for sustainably grown marijuana on the sides of San Francisco buses. (“That’s cannabis, the California way.”) The comfort dogs on public transport and the woman who brought her dog to the Easter Sunday service.

Blindingly white teeth. The burrito that was so huge it felt as if it would break my wrist. Police officers covered in tattoos.”

The Racetrack: The Sliding Rocks of Death Valley

Last but not least:

I can add a few of my own shots: