Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Salton Sea

     In my last posting I wrote that it would be my last posting from California, and I was wrong.  John and I changed our travel plans and decided to stay in the state one more night.  We did move our rig, as planned, from Vista on Saturday.  However, our first night’s stop was in El Centro, California,  not Yuma, Arizona.  We had decided that we wanted to see the Salton Sea, which is about 30 miles from the Mexican border.
     On Sunday we worshiped at the First United Methodist Church of El Centro.  It was the only church which did not have services at 9AM, that is too early for John.  It turned out to be a good choice, Rev.Dr. Ron P. Griffin gave a wonderful sermon on Micah 6:1-8.  An interesting side note here is that we learned that John Glenn was a member at this church and his wife an organist during the time he was stationed at the local naval base.  That must have been years ago!
     On Monday we drove to the Salton Sea.  We initially went a bit east of the lake so we could check out the dunes wilderness area at the base of the Chocolate Mountains.
     The above picture was taken at a lookout area above the dunes.  Highway 78, in the center of the picture, is the major road running through the area.

      There are several interesting facts about the Salton Sea.  First of all, it is below sea level.  On are way to Salton Sea we passed a sugar factory which had a mark on one of its towers where sea level is located, and I was impressed by how far below it we were.  Centuries ago the Salton Sea was a fresh water lake, called Lake Cahuilla by the Native Americans of the same name who once lived by its shores.  In wet times the Colorado River would fill in the sink basin, other times it would bypass the sink causing the lake to shrink or disappear.  The sea was also originally the northern part of the Gulf of California, so through the years it had a mixture of salt and fresh water.  Currently the salinity of the sea is rising as rivers bring in dissolved salts and water evaporates.  The sea also lacks any outlet. 
       Pictured above, along with the sea gulls, are black necked stilts.  The Salton Sea supports significant segments of many migratory birds populations which eat fish.  Unfortunately the sea's rising salinity threatens the 400 bird species which arrive here yearly along the Pacific Migratory Pathway.  On our walk through this state park, along the shore, we also noticed many herons and egrets perched high in the trees.  One solitary green heron sat on the wharf.  He allowed me to get fairly close to him for a picture.  Our path along the shore was lined with many tamarisk trees, also called salt cedar trees.  They are in bloom now with beautiful pinkish-purple flowers.  Our day trip took us completely around the sea, it was interesting to note how different the scenery was on each side of the sea.  The western side is agricultural with palm (think dates) and citrus orchards.  I also saw trucks filled with carrots on the road.  The south eastern shore of the sea is all desert, with no appreciable development of any kind.


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