Thursday, 15 January 2015

'merica Oddities

We are heading further west into southern California which is very exciting for us, it is about as far away from our home as we will be in our snowbirding travels.  We have been looking forward to this leg for a couple reasons, the first is meeting a fellow blogger and the second is the Salton Sea area.

Yuma bills itself as the sunniest city in the U.S.  Right on the border with Los Algodones, Mexico, it is has also become the spot for many Americans to go and get cheap dental, vision and drugs.  We didn't go to Mexico but we hear there is quite the system set up.  Park your car in the states, walk across the bridge into Mexico and the first couple of blocks are full of modern offices set up to cater to the masses flowing across the border.  The costs are 10% to 20% for the same dental work as that in the States or Canada, and the quality of work is reportedly up to a high standard. 

We were just passing through Yuma and had planned a two night stopover in one of the many RV resorts that are seemingly everywhere here in Yuma.  Westwind RV and Golf Resort was where we stayed with our Passport America 50% discount.  This is a large resort with plenty of things keep the snowbirds busy through the winter while enjoying all that sunshine.

While here we visited the Arizona Territorial Prison and the downtown area.  The prison opened in 1875 and has a colourful history, including Pearl Hart, a young Canadian woman who committed the last stagecoach robbery in the U.S.  She was born in Lindsay, Ontario, not far from where we spent our summers.

Six men to a cell not bigger than 10' x12'

Wanted... last seen heading west

If you are ever on Main St. in Yuma you have to stop at Lutes' Casino., a restaurant despite the name.  It's an old time eatery with so much going on inside you can't take it all in. 

We knew that fellow blogger Jim and Barb of Jim and Barb's RV Adventures were stopping here to take advantage of the low cost services across the border.  Jim and I have been following each other's blogs for what seems a along time.  It really has been just a year, they started fulltiming a short while after us.  Jim and Barb are much like us in age and interests, after talking through the blogs, I felt we knew them before we ever met.  We drove over to meet them the night before we were heading out to the Salton Sea.  We spent a couple of hours talking about fulltiming and things to do and things we've done.  It was great to finally meet in person and I hope our paths cross in the future.

Jim and Barb with Daisy

Salton Sea was the next stop on our road to the west.  Called the "Accidental Sea" because back in 1905 an engineering mistake caused a dike to be overwhelmed and all of the Colorado River flowed into the Salton Sink for 16 months, creating the current Salton Sea.  There are couple of documentaries about the area, the odd history and people it has attracted.  They are worth seeing along with a few Youtube videos.

We stayed at the Salton Sea Recreation Area State Park.  It is a strangely beautiful place with nice sunsets, water fowl constantly flying by, the shimmering light bouncing off the water.

 In the fifties this was a busy tourist area with boat races, fishing, skiing and plenty of restaurants and attractions.  It all started falling apart with flooding and the fish starting to die from various reasons.

Our campsite looking from the white beach.

Beautiful sunsets
Plenty of pelicans.
The photo ops are endless.

It all looks so pretty, until you look a little closer...

The sea is slowly dying with the salinity rising and killing many species of fish that once lived in the Salton Sea. Water evaporation is the only outlet leaving behind salt and chemicals from the run-off of the area farms. Tilapia still survive in large numbers and is the main food source for the millions of birds who stop by on the way south.  The white beach that you've been walking on is actually the bones of dead fish and the shells of barnacles that have washed ashore.  The decaying marine life on the shore cause an ever present underlying odor that you have to get used to. 

Take a close look... salt, bones and barnacles.


Bombay Beach is a small town that was partially flooded, causing people to leave their homes and many not bothering to come back.  The housing here is mostly mobile homes and for every one that is being lived in it seems there are two that are left derelict.  It has the feel of post-apocalyptic wasteland.  We didn't take many photos because the residents live with people like us gawking at them everyday and it must get very irritating.  It really is a little curious as to why these people stay, as it's miles from anything and can't be an easy way of life, but I guess there something that holds them here.
Crane left to rot.

Little elbow grease and it'll be ready to go.
Dike built to protect what is left of Bombay Beach.
We moved down the road on our tour of the strange and headed over to Salvation Mountain and Slab City., again if you haven't heard these places they are Google worthy time wasters. 
Salvation Mountain is one man's way of  spreading his love of God. It's best to read the explanation below;
Click for larger pic.

Slab City is another strange thing to take in.  A make-shift city with no power or sewers, it is on the site of an old marine training base.   Just the concrete was left behind went it closed and they sold off the buildings, hence the "slab" city name.  There are plenty of snowbirds here in the winter as it is free to live out here, but there are fulltime residents who live off the grid year round.  You will see half million dollar motorhomes parked next to a old beat-up trailer, next to a tent.  The people are as widely varied also, "Hippies", ""Freespirits", the odd drug addict and the people on the fringes of society alongside the retired school teacher or policeman looking for a cheap winter in the sun. 
Slab City from the top of Salvation Mountain

People have been living here for years and most are not community minded, so the trash has built up and is everywhere along with plenty of abandon vehicles, slowly being stripped for parts or art.  There are some very interesting camps set-up with signs and the afore mentioned art, some of which has taken years to build.  It is well worth visit as it really can't be properly explained, I had an idea what we were to see but it is much more interesting and shocking than I had previously thought.
Even with all this death and decay there is a certain beauty to the Salton Sea area.  The weirdness of Slab City or Bombay Beach are things not to be missed if you are down this way, but come with an open mind and might find yourself wanting to stay.
We move on to Aguanga (A-wong-a) next for a month in a very nice park.  We also go and see the Leafs fail to score a goal in two games, so glad the scenery is nice, it makes it harder to be miserable about our team falling apart.
It's knarly Bro'


  1. Fulltiming certainly gives you a new perspective and appreciation for some of the "strange" and different things you see out there. We have yet to see Slab City but it certainly sounds interesting.

    It was nice to finally meet you guys and hope to catch up again somewhere down the road!

    1. This area is not to be missed, it is fascinating. We look foward to meeting again down the road.

  2. Such an interesting post Scott..I am learning lots..who knew?? :)
    Your photos are amazing. Such a lovely photo of Jim and Barb.

    1. This trip is an education. Greg should come here with his camera, I would love to see what he could do here. We were happy to finally meet Jim and Barb.

  3. I'm a Northern CA gal and have not seen the Salton Sea or Slab City areas yet, but definitely looking forward to it. Thanks for the perspective and great photos! We will be crossing paths with Jim & Barb next week. Looking forward to meeting them too (and Daisy). Are you headed through Northern CA in the coming weeks?

    1. We are in Aguanga for another three weeks. You will find the Salton Sea area very interesting when you get there. It's great fun meeting people in person that you first get to know through blogging, you already feel like you know them.