Saturday, February 6, 2010


Tuesday, February 2 – Headed to the Salton Sea this morning.  The Salton Sea, located in the southeastern corner of California, is actually a lake which occupies a desert basin known as the Salton Sink. This body of water covers a surface area of 376 square miles, making it larger than Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake.  In fact, the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California.  The Sea’s current elevation is about 227 feet below mean sea level.


The Salton Sea was formed between 1905 and 1907 when the Colorado River burst through poorly built irrigation controls south of Yuma, Arizona. Water rushed downhill into the empty sea, and was flowing for 16 months before men could stop it. A new lake 45 miles long and 20 miles wide had been formed! Almost the entire flow of the river filled the Salton Basin for more than a year, inundating communities, farms and the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad.


The very things that make this lake so unique and such a rich source of abundant life are placing the Sea’s existence at risk. The nutrients that provide such an abundant source of food for fish are at levels that alter the available oxygen in the water. Its salt content, which causes water vessels to be more buoyant, and thus the fastest lake in the nation to boat upon, is compromising the reproductive ability of fish and, thus, their survival. Without fish, the hundreds of species of birds that rely on fish for food, and the economic status of the Sea as a productive fishery, would be threatened. 


We walked down to the shoreline and were surprised that what we thought to be beach sand was actually tiny shells. When walked upon, you really sank down 4-6 inches. Very unusual.


We actually put a finger in the Sea and WOW was it salty. After reading the information at the visitor’s center, we found out that the Salton Sea is 25% saltier than the ocean and getting saltier every day. What makes this body of water so salty, you ask? The salinity is a result of the high evaporation rates in the hot desert climate. Water flowing into the Sea adds the equivalent of a train of salt each day: several million tons a year. There are an estimated 500 million tons of salt in the Salton Sea.

More pictures here.

After visiting the Salton Sea we tried to find the Painted Canyon but were turned back due to road closings. Evidently the storm that hit Quartzsite last Thursday, January 24, did extensive road damage in the mountains in this area.

But before we get to our next stop, we needed to drive on some rough roads. We drove back a gravel and desert sand road about 5 miles into the desert. Then after about a mile hike we entered the Oasis.




We then went to Dos Palmas Preserve. The main oasis is at the base of the Orocopia Mountains. This was really interesting. It is a real oasis out in the desert.

This is what the land looked like around the Preserve.




Now here is the Dos Palmas Preserve.






Very cool and refreshing. It was obvious why these retreats were so sought after by people traveling in the desert.

Dos Palmas pictures here.

We then headed about 20 miles East on I-10 to the General Patton Memorial Museum. This museum was stuffed with artifacts from WWII.


In January 1942, just a month after the United States entered the war, German troops under the command of Field Marshall Rommel started pushing toward Egypt, threatening the Suez Canal. It was evident that U.S. troops would have to engage in a desert campaign. There was no background for such an engagement in the history of U.S. warfare.

General Patton arrived, and the Desert Training Center became operational, in early April 1942. Four days later, he and the troops took their first desert march. Within 15 days, all units at the center had been on a desert march. Within 23 days, he had conducted 13 tactical exercises, including some with two nights in the desert. The first troops to arrive at the Desert Training Center described it as "the place God forgot." It was eventually to become the training ground for more than a million troops in seven armored divisions and thirteen infantry divisions. Patton commanded the Seventh Army during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and in conjunction with the British Eighth Army restored Sicily to its citizens.

This Museum had everything from uniforms




shortwave radios, tanks…M-60 Medium, 48 tons, diesel, air cooled, automatic transmissions


Sherman M4 HVSS Medium, 36  tons, Wright 9 cyl, radial air cooled, manual transmission


and troop carriers. They definitely need a larger building. There was also a duplicate of the Vietnam Memorial and a wall covered with bricks in remembered of all veterans.

One of the most interesting things Marsha saw was called Trench Art. It is the sculpting of shell casings. Soldiers who spent long hours waiting in trenches passed the time between artillery barrages by creating art works out of the available materials. They did beautiful work.

casings-2 casings

The Museum has many maps.The Big Map weighs close to 5 tons and is designed to come apart like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Twelve expert draftsmen created more than 250,000 pieces of fiberboard to depict the 50,000 square miles of land surrounding the aqueduct’s route.


Just when we thought we saw everything, we noticed that they even had a picture of Marsha when she was in the service. She was the leader of a tank gang.


More pictures from the Gen. Patton Museum.

After dinner we headed into the Casino to claim our $50 in “casino money” and try our look on the slots. Once you put $20 of your own money into a machine, the casino kicks in $50 additional dollars to keep you playing. Unfortunately, you can't cash out the $50 and leave. You have to play out the $50. Paul ended up winning $14 and “Hot Shot” Marsha won $39....Yeah!

Our spot in the Fantasy Springs Casino parking lot for RVs.



Driveway to the Casino. Flowers are blooming everywhere…Marsha is in Heaven.


What a full day. How lucky we are to able to see all of this. Hope you stop back again.


  1. Did I miss the pictures of the roadrunners? We're off to the Patton Museum on Sunday ... probably.

  2. What a fabulous area! We've GOT to go there! Nina

  3. What a fabulous area! We've GOT to go there! Nina


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