Road trip!

Around the sea

| In the past year we have passed by the Salton Sea many times en route to Mexico to visit the dentist, and the same conversation always ensues.

"Anybody every been to the other side of the Salton Sea?" "No." "Nah." "Nope."

"We ought to do it someday, just drive around the Salton Sea and see what's there." "Absolutely." "Sure." "Let's do it."

And that's as far as it has gone. Until last week. We finally set a date to do the circumnavigation of the Salton Sea. At Avenue 66, we hung a left onto CA-111 that runs down the east coast of the Salton Sea.

Our first discovery was to understand what all those little green areas along the coast are on the map — they are state campgrounds and recreation areas! Who knew?

deco sign for Mecca Beach
A very artsy entrance sign

First stop was Mecca Beach. There were a lot of camping sites, some with hookups for RVs, and many picnic tables. In fact, other adventurers were having a nosh when we arrived. We walked across the beach (it's quite wide now because the Salton Sea is shrinking) to the water. It was not appealing, although later at lunch our server told us that people do still swim in it.


From there it was on to Bombay Beach for lunch. I, for one, had never heard of Bombay Beach until some weeks ago when the New York Times had an article about a music and arts festival held there every year. Who knew? And the article mentioned a place where one could get tasty, reasonably priced food. So we headed to the Ski Inn. (Waterskiing, maybe?)

Ski Inn, exterior
Ski Inn
Ski Inn, interior

The comments I had read on the web were not wrong: the food was tasty and very reasonably priced. Our only complaint was the very loud music playing on the TV/jukebox, which made conversation difficult. It was only when we were leaving that we discovered a patio with nice tables and umbrellas where we could have eaten in peace. Next time!

space needle
Space needle thingy

I mentioned the festival. Remnants of the festival can be found in various locations around town. The concept appears to be "make something out of found objects and junk." Particularly striking was a faux space needle built on a nose-diving airplane. It was very tall and visible from blocks away. It reminded us of those carnival rides that whirl you around and make you dizzy and nauseated.

In general, the town is a hoot. A fine place to visit if you want to step back in time. It's easy to imagine that it was quite the bustling place when the Salton Sea was being promoted as a getaway destination for Los Angelenos.

plaque and time capsule
Plaque and time capsule

Next stop was the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Preserve. There are hiking trails, an observation platform, visitor center, decent restrooms, and some quail foraging for their afternoon nosh. There is also a time capsule buried under a plaque bearing the image of Teddy Roosevelt who was instrumental in preserving America's natural wonders. I don't think I'll be around for the opening of the capsule, however.

Finally, we were off to the Red Rock Casino for coffee and dessert before the final leg home. We discovered that the casino is a great stopping-off place when traveling to/from Mexico. The cafe serves quite good comfort food. OK, I should not have had the mud pie, but why not?


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Last updated on May 26, 2019



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