After getting thoroughly psyched up by viewing several DVD documentaries of this area, plus some stuff posted on HAZ and You Tube, it was finally time to go check it out. It definitely lived up to my expectations! I drove in by way of El Centro and Brawley, bypassing the sand dunes. Hit the Taco Bell in Brawley for dinner and gassed up in Calipatria, before heading to the Red Hill Marina and to look for the nearby mud volcanoes (which I found after a little searching). I got a late start out of Tucson, so I didn't have a lot of daylight left by the time I drove by Bombay Beach (which I decided I would backtrack to and check out in the morning). There was road construction and delays around Bombay Beach, so my main mission at this point was to find a camp spot at the state park before dark. I checked out Salt Creek and Corvina, but decided I'd spend 10 dollars more at Headquarters. Got there just before dark and set up in a nice spot. There were only two other campers that night. There was a lot of truck traffic on CA111 and trains, but that didn't bother me as much as "traffic" from a radio left on at the nearby highway work camp (with volume up after the workers went home). Truth is none of it bothered me much, as I was just totally engrossed being in a new area!
Woke up as first light was approaching and heard another train passing by. Looked out my tent and saw Amtrak pass by at 5:20 on its way to Los Angeles. That was cool. (Hmmm...I haven't been on Amtrak since 1988; I think it might be time again.) After morning coffee and photos, I headed back to Bombay Beach for a quick drive thru, before heading up to Thermal/Mecca to catch CA86 south. I skipped Desert Shores and Salton Sea Beach, then drove around Salton City awhile, before heading for Borrego Springs on S-22.
This was kind of a quick overview trip. Now that I know my way around better, I'll definitely go back, spend more time, and see some of the things I skipped (such as Slab City and Salvation Mountain). Plus, I would like to mingle with the locals at a local watering hole, and maybe have a beer with "Hunky Daddy."
I guess my biggest surprise was to see how many people are living in Bombay Beach and Salton City. The weather was just right for this trip with no high winds and sand/dust. No massive fish die off with attendant foul air either.
The Salton Sea...somewhat depressing and strangely beautiful; highly wreck-ommended!