|Notes from the Road Desert Southwest
a short time from now, the sun will rise, and the sky will burn red. I
am two-hundred and twenty-eight feet below sea-level, paddling by headlight
from an abandoned harbor on the Salton Sea. Although I understand that
the color of the sea is green, I cannot yet see it.
I can feel the weight of the salt-inundated water on my paddle. This sea,
the largest inland body of water in California, and certainly one of the
largest inland seas in the Americas, did not exist a century ago. It was
1905, and farmers had been irrigating crops in California's Imperial Valley
by circumventing canals out of the Colorado River. But floodgates clogged,
irrigation routes broke, and in two years, the salton sink had become
a sea, albeit an accidental one.
were angry and confused. Apparently, the snakes were also unhappy about
losing their land, and their retreat to higher ground caused land to be
filled with 'hundreds of 'em.' The smell is rancid; not that clean smell
of fresh cut-fish in a harbor, but a wafting smell of decay, windless
plumes of fish-stink rising from the sea.