Monday, February 25, 2013

Quartzsite to the Salton Sea

If you are looking for something to top the last posting then I can warn you now--it will be a long while before I will find a subject as good as Paul Winer...

So, for now it is back to scenery.

The road out of Quartzsite leads toward the mountains.  I decided I couldn't go too wrong if I left the freeway for a while so I turned toward a small town called Mecca and discovered that I was plunging down into a canyon...

It curved a lot but the road was not bad. And there was little traffic compared to Interstate-8 with its inevitable lineup of semi's that pushed me all over the road.
At the bottom of the canyon I found the most interesting drive--wild and unpopulated, with only an occasional camper tucked up under the great formations of rock.

  If the radio had not been warning me that a storm was brewing then I would have stayed a while.  Named Box Canyon, this was all BLM land so camping is free, neighbors are a long distance away and campsites are defined only by what strikes your fancy.

 A glance at my GPS told me how far in a hole I had dropped.  Minus 207 feet-- and the road was still dropping.

And when I emerged from the Canyon I was on this lake, AKA, the Salton Sea.

 The enormous Salton Sea is much more than a lake.  In places it is so vast you cannot see across.  Also, it lies in the bottom of a deep bowl and, because the only way water can leave here is through evaporation, the sea is many many times saltier than the ocean.  It is surrounded by mountain ranges that lock it in and it is the winter home of great flocks of local and migrating birds.

There is a lovely state park on the lake and I decided to stop for the night.

But the ranger warned me that the storm that was coming would hit about noon the next day and I best not try to cross the mountains until it passed. The prediction was for snow, ice and 75 MPH winds.

Sunset that night was so peaceful..

with only the sound of the birds settling down for the night.

It was hard for me to imagine bad weather at this point but I decided that I would spend a night or two in the small farming town of El Centro in the Imperial Valley and wait out the storm.

Sure enough, the first night I slipped into a parking lot near an apartment building and thought I would not be noticed.  Except, those 75 MPH winds beat against the side of the RV so much it set off my alarm system--twice!

The second night I tried parking for wind protection, on the lee side of a vacant shopping center but, for the first time in 18 months, I got rousted!  The empty shopping center had a security guard that woke up at 1AM, surmised that I didn't belong there and  ordered me to leave.  I returned to the apartment building parking lot for the rest of the night then left town at 6 AM with fingers crossed that the wind would die down.  I did not want to try and find another place to safely spend the night.  After all,  it was only about a three hour drive to San Diego but the mountains were in the way.  And they were covered with snow. 


  1. Salton Sea in Arizona? Is it related to Death Valley I wonder?

  2. Nancy, I just re-read this posting and realized how amiss I was at describing where I had traveled. Just 20 miles after leaving Quartzsite, Arizona I crossed into California. Sixty miles later at a spot on Interstate 10 called Chiriaco Summit I left the freeway and followed the road through that wonderful Box Canyon to Mecca. From there I traveled southward on the east side of the lake to the town of El Centro. I promise I will do better in the future--should someone wish to travel in these crazy tire tracks.
    I also was unaware of another spot in the US that was 'lower than sea level.' The Salton Sea is several hundred miles south of Death Valley and separated by several mountain ranges so I doubt they are related in origin.

    1. Thanks Toni. So much more exciting than I-8 into San Diego!

    2. I love the look of that canyon. You are making me feel like I want to hit the road. That sounds like some storm.
      You do have amazing adventures and stories to tell!