Thursday, April 12, 2012

A very sad lake

Salton Sea 
Before we arrive to our next hotel we make a short trip to the Salton Sea. As we get out of the car, we are overwhelmed by the stink of dead crabs and algae. It is deathly silent, except for the lonesome howl of passing freight trains, a sound I had previously only known from movies.

It makes me happy every time a certain "America moment" is happening, when something matches up with the pictures I have saved in my mind in the “America” file. I do that every time I am on the road: I search for the images that I expected or believed I would find. I don’t know why I do it – maybe it’s to convince myself that I’m actually there. I recognize I am not even really “there” now. I am just chasing a fiction in my mind, a romantic idea of a place.

So, Salton Sea: it's beautiful but somehow dead, a viscous broth. The information board explains that the stink is caused when the algae dies in the spring. We read that the gasses expelled during the decomposition process are so smelly, even the pelicans want to hold their noses. It is a sad lake. 

It was formed by accident, when a pipe burst, leading to millions of gallons of water flooding the dried up, salt-filled valley over a period of 14 months, creating a sort of manmade inland “sea”. Yet the area’s extreme heat causes the water to constantly evaporate, perpetually increasing the lake’s salinity.

Now off to the cool dudes at Ace Hotel…


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