Voices and Portraits

21st Oct, 2013

Interview with 

Patty Mullins
Photographer and Activist

Patty Mullins

Copyright P. Mullins
1. When was the first time you visited the Salton Sea? How did you come across it?

I first remember hearing about the Sea as a child, in the 60's. My father commented on it as we had relatives in Brawley. I was told it was salty and mistakenly thought it was the Salty Sea instead of Salton until I was a teenager.

2. What was your first impression?

I didn't visit the Sea until I was an adult. I had business in San Diego and thought I'd take the long way through Anza Borrego and stop by the Sea. I arrived as the sun was setting, and pulled into Salton Sea Beach. I took a few quick photos of the area, I was mesmerized. I had no idea how large the Sea was.  I continued on to San Diego but kept puzzling over what I'd seen. How did it come to be that way? Why had people moved out of their homes? I wanted to know all I could, so when I returned home I began searching for information on the internet.

3.  Do you have any favourite memories or stories to share?

While driving through Bombay Beach one afternoon after shooting a roll of actual film along the shoreline, I saw a few kids getting off the school bus. One of them was Benny, featured in the hauntingly beautiful film, Bombay Beach. He looked up and shyly waved as I drove by. I felt a little embarrassed and invasive as I knew far too much about this little boy than a casual passerby would know. I do have to say that film made me want to know more about the Sea, and help however I could.

4. What is your biggest concern about the sea?

I feel there are multiple issues and underlying problems that are creating a close to hopelessness about the current situation. I think general apathy is my biggest concern. How do we get folks educated and make them care enough to take action? I am not sure I know.  I do feel that help needs to come not only from within the immediate area, but outside and in a big way. The folks I live amongst are good people, but of limited means and influence in my opinion.

5. When you have first time visitors, what is your favourite place to take them?

All around the perimeter of the Sea! I think it's important to see everything, not just dwell on the unusual nature of decay present along some shoreline communities. The wildlife area is especially beautiful – the obsidian rocks along the shore, the many varieties of birds. I was especially enchanted by the Burrowing Owls along the agricultural fields.   I also make sure visitors see Salvation Mountain and stop in for lunch at the Buckshot Cafe then grab a cold drink at the Ski Inn and chat with some locals before completing the visit. I've not had the chance to visit the art gardens in East Jesus but that is next on my list. I did drive up but didn't ask to visit in advance which they respectfully request, but from what I could see from the car it was pretty awesome.

6. What do you say to people who feel it should dry up?

I say history can and will repeat itself. All anyone has to do is look at the Owens Lake situation. That is exactly what will happen here if action isn't taken, and soon.

7. Tell us about the photos you have chosen to share.

Copyright P. Mullins
Sunrise over Johnson's Landing (Canon Rebel xti)
I find it awe inspiring to be there at dawn, when the pelicans start arriving.

Burrowing Owl near wildlife refuge (Canon Rebel xti)
Copyright P. Mullins
These little guys are safe, thanks to a local farmer who built them nesting boxes to keep them out of harms way in the agricultural ditches.

Train headed to Niland (iPhone)
Copyright P. Mullins
A little somber, but a reminder of the current state the area is in.

Post in water near Bombay Beach (film)
Copyright P. Mullins
I like the tranquility of the Sea and the reminder of what once was.

8. Any additional comments?

I also wanted to reiterate what it will take to fix the situation here is to have outside help! We need to get people from LA and San Diego out here for a start, and show them the Sea is definitely worth saving. I tried to rally locals to work on independent projects and while everyone is enthusiastic about having help come to the area, not many people are up to the heavy lifting it requires.  I don't blame them, they have heard so many “ideas” over the years I think they are a little tired of outsiders coming in to tell them how to fix the Sea. You really have to live here to get the vibe.  I was even attacked by a fellow who wanted to know whose side I was on, etc. It was really unsettling. I have always seen this as one side...so to speak. The infighting has got to stop!

Shortly after moving here I'd started a group on Facebook to survey what interests there would be in undertaking some smaller projects to get  locals engaged. I think the same four people show up each time someone new proposes something needs to be done about the Sea – some are willing to help and while that is great, we need more like 50 to really kick into high gear and make a difference.  I have to admit I am a bit disillusioned after living here for six months and seeing everything status quo. 

Kudos to Norm Niver for keeping the torch burning all these years! He is a gem. I also think what Kerry  (Ecomedia Compass) is doing is great to raise awareness, and wish him the best in his SOS campaign.  Frankly, I think it's not planned out enough to be as large of an event as he is envisioning and we've had conversations about some of the challenges.  I'd asked him if he had working plan with targeted dates for to-do items and if he'd gotten the required permits filed. I am a stickler for planning and execution, having spent over 30 years in corporate America I know what it takes to pull off a large public event. 

Unfortunately, I've seen  so much unstated polarization in the locals. I've yet to see a cohesive group with a focus. I've seen ugliness rear its head more than once. It's easy to lose focus when there are old scars and battles that people seem to cling to. I don't blame them, I know everyone has their story and reasons but wow, it's really difficult to get them to rise above the past and unite.

I did talk to people in all the communities around the Sea and even though the Sea is common to everyone, the problems in each area are quite unique to those folks so getting everyone together to agree on undertaking a project has not happened for me.

In January 2014 I am executing a scavenger hunt that will begin in Los Angeles and bring teams of enthusiastic people down to the Sea. We will have a treasure hunt planned along the way – and the hunt will end with an overnight campout at the State Recreation Area, just north of Bombay Beach. The entry fees will be pooled and the winner will take home a cash prize. A percentage of the funds raised will go to support local food banks/recognized charities all around the Sea.  Some of the scavenger hunt “missions” will be educational so each participant will learn about the Sea and then take that knowledge back with them to share.

I plan on promoting this in a big way, starting in late November.  For more information, please see http://scavengerhunt2014.webs.com/   This is a not-for-profit event, all the money raised will go for prizes, paying for the campground fees and food and some donated to charity. I really hope to get enough participants to make this happen.  This scavenger hunt should appeal to a younger crowd, and some of the antics that participants will need to do along the way will be instagram/tweet/FB/blogging goodness. 

I came to Salton City to live in affordable housing while recovering from a knee surgery gone wrong. After I have healed up and am ambulatory I honestly think I am going back to Los Angeles. I will continue to campaign for awareness and try my best to contribute to the solution but believe I need a bigger base to work from. It's very remote here, and it's easy to feel like the forgotten stepchild. The quietness is peaceful, but maddening. One of my neighbors said that to me and it couldn't be more truthful.

Thanks so much for listening! 

Patty Mullins

 Thank you Patty!


12th September, 2013

Interview with 
Cristopher Cichocki 

  1. Tell us about your first trip to the Salton Sea and your memories of it.

Copyright C. Cichocki
CC: It was in 1997. I was a senior at Palm Desert High School. There was a report in the local newspaper where over 3,000 birds died that week due to a fish die-off that spread botulism. I was curious to see what this was all about and brought a few friends and my video camera to investigate. The birds had already been cleaned up and the fish were still lining the shores. Aside from that harsh first impression I was amazed with the landscape. I couldn’t believe that in all of the years I lived in the Coachella Valley I had never ventured to the Salton Sea. It’s a truly unique place that I find full of beauty.

  1. What is your favourite location to visit? What draws you to it?

CC: I have many favorites. But if I had to choose one in particular it would be Bombay Beach. The shoreline and structures are in constant transformation. I’ve also seen some truly dynamic sunsets at Bombay Beach unlike any other. There’s a surreal beauty to the area.

  1. Tell us about the decision making involved in using the dead fish of the Salton Sea in your art work?

CC: I started working with neon / Day Glo paint over a decade ago when I was living in Los Angeles. When I moved back to the Coachella Valley in 2005 I revisited the Salton Sea and painted and photographed my first green fish. The image of the green fish resonated with me. Since then I’ve incorporated thousands of dead fish into more photographs, paintings, sculpture, video and installation works. Although, to cut to the core of your question; I am deeply invested in exploring the theme of water within my work. Spanning far beyond the Salton Sea, water is the universal resource for life and survival. My radiating green fish illustrate the mutation between nature and industry.

Copyright C. Cichocki

  1. There is debate with regards to what would be more useful to garner media and public attention and financial aid to help save the Salton Sea. Some would argue focusing on the positive sides of the Sea would be a more useful (“It isn’t toxic! It is beautiful!). Others feel that to show the full plight (“It really needs your help!!!”) is the way to go. Using the dead fish strikes me that you may be following the latter path. What is your standpoint on this?

Copyright C. Cichocki
CC: The Salton Sea has many amazing features to it. I love the Salton Sea and want to see it thrive once again. Whether people have been to the Salton Sea or haven’t even heard of it, the fact  is that if we neglect it further it will become a dried up lakebed of cancerous dust  in less than 20 years, this should be alarming to anyone who plans to visit or live in SoCal 20 years from now. If you live anywhere in Southern California the Salton Sea is literally your backyard. We need a sustainable solution or it will become another airborne Owens Lake catastrophe. The negligence towards the Salton Sea is an environmental crime. Action needs to be taken not as an option, but as a priority. The fish I use in my work represent an urgency and awareness towards the Salton Sea.

5. To what extent do you see your artwork as political, and is it meant to be?

CC: I’m a visual artist, not a scientist or a politician. I create work that evokes a wide range of discussion that often crosses into scientific, political and environmental territories. All of my work is constructed with organic or synthetic materials. The message is in the medium and the discussion is constantly evolving.

Copyright C. Cichocki

Artist Website: http://cristophersea.com/

Thanks Cris!

Copyright C. Cichocki

Copyright C. Cichocki


13th May, 2013

Ingrid Vigeant

 Mysterious Place, the Salton Sea

Copyright I.Vigeant
1. How did you come across the Salton Sea? what was your first impression?

After I moved to San Diego in 1993 I started making little forays into the Desert. I fell in love with its beauty and one day decided to head out to the Salton Sea. Most of what I’d heard about it was very negative. I arrived at the shore as the sun was setting, I looked around and saw old rebar and some dried fish on the beach, and thought yes there are obvious problems here but watching the sky and the changing of the colors I was astounded by the delicacy of the beauty I was witnessing. The mountains on the other side turned pink which reflected onto the sea and as I watched, the whole Sea went from pink to lavender whipped cream to pastel blue the colors of the Sea and sky so blended that the horizon line disappeared. I thought why doesn’t anyone talk about this?

I was hooked by the beauty which feels prehistoric, the silence and the spectacle of the birds that I used to watch and film at dawn on my visits. It became a place of respite for me to go and feel happy and at peace doing absolutely nothing but observing.

 2. You are an artist. What is your focus? Tell us if and how the Salton Sea has influenced your work? Have you done any site specific work?

As an artist I came to view the Sea as an exquisite backdrop for art, in my minds eye it was like a Dali painting or a Fellini film location. I came up with concepts for art installations there and ideas for promoting the arts at the Sea as a sustainable  and positive direction to go with any development and a way to preserve and promote what I felt were it’s most valuable assets, visual beauty, silence, wildlife, and the night skies as these things usually go by the wayside when an area develops, unless active steps are taken to preserve them.

In 2005 I did accomplish one of my art installations out there. With the help of [farmer] Al Kalin who donated 500 Straw bales and an arts organization in Imperial who donated the money to move them to my property plus the help of friends, we erected a small straw bale
pyramid where I held an event on the November full moon to mark the anniversary of the flood that created the current Sea. We lit the Pyramid with 200 blue glow sticks. and dancers and musicians, friends of mine  performed on and around the Pyramid under the full moon, it
was quite magical. The Pyramid stayed up for a few years and my friends and I found it to be the most wonderful place to hang out see the view from higher up and an awesome place to sleep and watch the stars.

3. Living in San Diego, I wonder, whether you come across people who have only heard negative about the Salton Sea. What do you say to them?

When I meet people here is SD who only hear the negative I tell them about its beauty, some get it, some don’t but on a trip out there in January 2012 I ran into some young folks from SD in Bombay Beach who were having the time of their lives, their comment was this place is
better than Disneyland, we’ve been looking forward to this road trip for a long time. I saw them later at Slab City for the annual talent show, a great time with some great performers. The growing art community out there is really vibrant and has some truly incredible installation, look up the Tanks, or wheels, Slab City. Actually I was talking about this to a man I met in LA at a big art festival and he immediately decided to make a road trip out there.

4. For years you were involved as a volunteer with the California Coastal Commission to organise the Salton Sea Beach Clean Up. How did this come about?

I became involved with the California Coastal Commission after meeting them at an event at Mesa College where I was talking about the Salton Sea trying to drum up interest in it’s plight and change perceptions about it. They said they would like to include it in their
annual Coastal cleanup day, I was happy to oblige.

5. Any favorite memories, or stories?

Favorite stories, hmm, I have so many of them, OK I got one. I started taking my Kayaks out there, and the first time I launched in Salton City it was sunset, my favorite time, the water was as calm and smooth as glass, and as I watched the colors change I saw that the sky was perfectly mirrored in the Sea and as I looked down at it I had the curious
sensation of falling backwards. My mind saw that perfect sky and felt this can’t be right and tried to put it in the right perspective above me. Mysterious place the Salton Sea.

Thank you Ingrid!



 22nd April, 2013

Heather Simonds
Photographer and Birder

I met Heather at the Desert Author's Expo, organised by the Palm Springs Writer's Guild,  where I had a booth. Heather is a professional photographer, avid birder and excellent blogger.

Copyright H. Simonds
 1. When did you first hear about the Salton Sea?

My family has had a second home in Palm Springs since 1997. I first heard of the Salton Sea from a photography exhibit at the Palm Springs Museum. It was in the lower level, I recall and I was intrigued by the monochromatic images. The exhibit had an extensive description of the Salton Sea area and I was intrigued this “other world” was so near. A few years later, when I “came out of the closet” about bird watching I went for my first visit. Someone (locally, in western Canada) suggested that I check out the bird watching there, as it is like non other. He was right and so was the entire place.

2. What was your first impression of it?
No one in my family was interested so I went on my own and found it overwhelming in size and issues, as well as birds. Lots of story material.

3. You had mentioned that you enjoy birding. When did you start? What is your favorite thing about birding? Were you a birder or photographer first?
I started birding after a two-month trip to South America with my family. It was one of those things that I always had an interest in. When I returned I familiarized myself with local birds in western Canada and when I visit other places, like the California desert, I always have my eye on the birds. Like most people, I follow online sources to help locate places not familiar to me. I got a checklist and bought a book on Salton Sea birds at the Visitor Center. It described lots of areas I would never have explored without this resource in hand. I take it whenever I go to the area.

4. You are also a photographer. What is it about the Salton Sea that grabs you?
I have seen several photography exhibits, all excellent monochrome, capturing the essence of the area – subsistence, stark, minimalist, bright, hot, extreme contrasts.

5. Do you exhibit your Salton Sea photographs? If so, where?
So far, I have made a series of posts of the area on my website at: http://heathersimondsphotography.com/?s=salton
The stories have been about the surrounding area (Mecca) and landscape at the sea, some birding. Now I am working on the people and where they live. As I continue going through my images form the many years I have been there, I find more tales to tell.

6. Tells us a favorite memory or experience that you have had at the Salton Sea. Do you have a favorite photo? What is the story behind that image?

Copyright H. Simonds
First of all I like all of the bird images but birders are like that. I remember particular places, little bays and coves, certain addresses. As I continued to return to the Salton Sea I realized there were more stories, abandoned hotels with curtains blowing in the breeze (North Shore), resort homesteads at Bombay Beach, Salton City’s shorefront, vacated and still used storage buildings, boats, the variety is curious and explainable. Buildings and locations were telling me that people had been there or were continuing to make a life. I started to engage with people from there; make connections with humanity and ask for portraits. So, for me, what started with an interest in nature grew to an experience with the humanity at the Salton Sea, a kind of merging of the two. These are my favorite images. Lots of talented photographers have exhibits on the Salton Sea, one recent one was at Rancho Mirage Public Library. I admire their work but I am trying to find a voice of my own.

7. In a way, we are both trying to get others to see a different Salton Sea than the one that everyone already knows: decaying, stinky, nasty, unnatural, deserves to die, etc. How do you go about letting people know about what you see?
I have found that my blog posts on the Salton Sea are gaining interest and I have many more stories to tell that will be posted there in a continuing series.

Thank you, Heather!

Please visit Heather's Blog for more.

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea For A Different Nostalgia It is doubtful someone from Mumbai got washed up on the Salton Sea beach years ago but don’t you wonder where some names come from? Although Bombay Beach is not in India, temperatures can compete with the Indian subcontinent at this Salton Sea loc...

Photos all courtesy of Heather Simonds. 


9th April, 2013

Christine Hall

Not strictly speaking  about the Salton Sea... in fact it doesn't even come up, but I am a huge fan of Christine's art work. She lives in Coachella Valley.

Christine seen with her work
What was your process to becoming an artist? Is being an artist a life-long way of being, or a more recent acquisition?

I get uncomfortable calling myself an artist. I am not big on labels. I do what I like and create objects or paintings that some people are willing to buy or judges are willing to deem a piece as worthy. I don’t feel I have yet arrived as an artist. I create art but I don’t feel like I can call myself an artist.

I create what I like and really don’t care if no one likes my work except me. Don’t get me wrong. I want people to like my work but I am not attached to selling or having people like my work. I create for me. That sense of freedom allows me to push limits and not care about what others are creating or what is selling. If a piece gives pleasure and someone wants to buy it, so much the better. It is a sincere form of honoring my work when someone makes a purchase. 

I began my art more seriously as part of a healing process about 25 years ago. For me, creating art is healing. My art is a way of life. Everyday I am involved in art in some way. I might see something in the grocery store or an article of clothing or a shadow and I think, how can I create that effect?

Christine, you work in a variety of media. What fuels you to create artwork using such a variety, from painting to assemblage, to mixed media, pen and ink, acrylic, etc.? With which medium did you first start? Do you think of the end result first and then use whatever medium makes sense to use, or do you chose the medium first and then consider the end product?

I began with pottery about 40 years ago because of the tactile immersion with clay. But after a year and a move and working full time, art took a back seat. I worked more on home crafts for a long time. Then I began again and chose watercolor because it was easy to get into and I found a good teacher. Then I found a portrait pastel teacher and worked with her. I liked both mediums but then things changed and another move or two and I was artless until the vibrant Coachella Valley Watercolor Society came into my life. It was here where I was introduced to master watercolorists and classes.

But restlessness set in and I am now exploring assemblage and acrylic. To me I think I have found my calling. Usually I begin with an inspiration and then think how I can best achieve the result I am looking for. I look for ways to make my pieces unusual, not normal. Normal and average is boring. I strive for striking and a fresh approach.

Do you have a favorite medium to work with and why?
Right now my favourite medium is acrylic and assemblage. I am moving towards combining the two in wall hanging pieces.

Next week my favorite medium could be oil but I don’t think so. I have not explored acrylic enough and am just beginning to feel free and loose in assemblage. 

Color Strokes

Who and where do you draw your influences from?

I love great women artists. Mary Cassatt, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe Artemesia Gentileschi, and photographer Imogen Cunningham. Many of these women struggled to be great artists in their era. I have seen all of these artists’ original work hung in Museums. It is a thrill.

Is there a piece of yours in particular that you would say is your most favorite?

I have two favorites. My collage called, “ On Her Side” and my assemblage entitled, “Emerging Woman.” I place a higher price on those pieces I like to keep for awhile. 

On Her Side

You travel quite frequently to various places, both far and near, familiar and unknown. How does traveling influence your artistic eye? How much of it do you take with you and create artwork from what you have seen? 

My husband and I like to travel to more exotic places. The art is more basic, vibrant as in Cuba and sprightly and almost garish in Burma. I enjoy all kinds of art. In San Francisco I spotted a simple black outline of a portrait spray-painted on the sidewalk. How curious. I was walking along and this piece of art pops up underneath my feet. I snapped a picture of it. So simple, black on gray concrete, I was smiling at the image.

I don’t create necessarily from something I see but certainly I am influenced. There was an exhibit in a museum in Havana that was arms and hands. That piece was so strong, that I can’t forget it. So it influenced me to create a piece with hands but I don’t have any idea yet what it will look like and what I might be trying to say with it.

For some pieces I have a theme or a focus or maybe an interpretation I am trying to convey. Others are just whimsical with no message at all.

Traveling creates opportunities for dialogues with other artists and visits to their studios. I see how other artists create their craft.

The female body figures quite regularly in your work and you have done a series on women. Could you explain your draw to featuring women in your work?

To me, the female body is a sculpture waiting to happen. The curves, shadows, and lines are ready to be explored. When I saw David by Michelangelo, he captured the beauty of a man’s body. I don’t feel I can.

Tell me more about your trademark, "Striving to See the Light in People as in Art". 

A while ago I read this beautiful essay in which a Buddhist monk treated a thief and murderer with dignity. A fellow monk inquired how could this monk treat this scoundrel of a man with anything but disdain. His response was simple, “Do you not see his light?”

In life, I want to be that monk who can see the light within any person. “Seeing the light” in art is essential. The sun, shadows or backlighting is what makes a painting alluring.
So that’s the source of my motto.

Thank you, Christine!

Please visit Christine's website for more information and to see her beautiful work! She also has an online shop where you can purchase her original artwork.

Palms on Haystack Road

All images Copyrighted Christine Hall

20th February, 2013

Susan Weston
Can-Can Girl Extraordinaire

Riding the Desert Picking up Cans
My husband and I first came to the Salton Sea in February 2005 to visit a friend my husband taught school with in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1963.  He and his wife hosted us at a trailer on the other side of the lake.  We’d flown from frigid Alaska for a week of warmth.  It was a very rainy winter in the desert, flowers and mud everywhere.  

 Within days my husband decided he wanted us to spend winters here!  That was a shock!

We were in a motor home park with retirees from all over the States and Canada, some of whom had wintered in a lot of warm places and assured us this was the best!  For us, it seemed a lot like Alaska but warm instead of cold, with sand instead of snow.  Like Alaska, it has an intriguing mix of people and we love that we can explore the wilderness and sometimes only see a couple of people all day.  The people we do meet are friendly, out to enjoy the outdoors same as us.

The second year we bought an old motor home and quads.  At the end of the season we finally got street-legal wheels, an old Jeep.

Our friends moved to northern California the third and fourth years.  We moved to a mobile home park near the Bat Caves.  Nearly every day, I walked up to and around that beautiful rock formation.  It was a brisk, hour-long walk.  Trash bugs me, so I started taking plastic bags and picking up a little every day.  It took two years, but the very day we moved to Salton City, I cleaned up the last little bit of broken glass on that hike.

We bought a house in partnership with our friends after the housing bubble burst, and though I missed the great Bat Caves hike, Salton City opened up whole new areas for us to explore.  Our house backs on a wash that leads right into Ocotillo Wells SVRA (State Vehicle Recreation Area).  I started picking up trash again on my daily walks.  My girlfriend Sherrie took it a step further and picked up trash when she and her husband went out riding on quads.  I’d recycled what I could all along, but in Alaska there’s no CRV, so I don’t get paid.  Sherrie started redeeming cans and bottles, bringing in enough to pay for our gas.

Now you might call me a "canatic." I love zooming around the desert on my speedy little quad, picking up cans and bottles along the way.  Sherrie dubbed us the “Can-Can Girls”.  We’re doing what we “can” to get campers and residents to recycle rather than litter.

When we check the summertime temperatures, we count our blessings to be in cool Alaska.  What were summers like before air conditioning?  I read recently that one of the reasons for purchasing Alaska from Russia in 1867 was to supply ice for California!  Air conditioning is a recent innovation, only becoming standard in private homes within the past 30 years or so.

In winter, the Salton Sea is the place to play.  Parasailing, desert driving, and lots more.  You only get a taste of the area from the highway.  Up every wash are surprises, especially if you like geology and rocks.  The concretions are amazing!  It’s a giant playground for grownups that would take years to fully explore.  To enjoy it, you have to get out there.

Thank you Susan for your write-up! 

I think it is so great that Susan is a Can-Can Girl. Too many people leave trash behind in the desert and so to have someone go out and pick up after others, enjoy it and have fun with it too, is super inspiring!

 Photo courtesy of Susan Weston


13th December, 2012

 Terresa Sanchez
Frequent Visitor to the Salton Sea

1. When you think of the Salton Sea, what comes to mind? 

 When I think of the Salton Sea I think of adventure and relaxation. Unfortunately most people don't know anything about the Salton Sea and the few that do only know the negative stories the press put out. People would be surprised to know who much there is to do around the Salton Sea.

2. When was the first time you came out here and what spurred on the trip? Do you live here or come to visit? If you live here, how long have you been here for? 

I've often traveled past the Salton Sea since I was around 4 years old. It took 20 years for me to finally stop and visit. I started visiting Salton City about 3 years ago when my ex-boyfriend bought a house out there. I don't live around the Salton sea, I actually live about an hour and 45 minutes away, but it's well worth the drive. I frequently spend my weekends out there enjoying the quite, the beautiful weather and the beautiful scenery.  

3. Would you like to recount a favourite memory, or story, or incident that happened at the Salton Sea? 

I've had some really great memories while visiting the Salton Sea, where do I start?! 

Like most people who frequent the Salton Sea I enjoy riding sand toys. I began to wonder what other adventures the Salton Sea had to offer and was directed to seaanddesert.org. Andrew (my ex) and I drove to the Salton Sea State park/recreation area to watch a video on the Salton Sea (one of the many free services the park has to offer). We watched a video about how the Salton Sea came to be, the birds of the sea and facts about the sea. The people at the state park were very friendly and gave us information on additional places to see around the Salton Sea.

We headed to Dos Palmas oasis preserve where we were awed by the beautiful scenery.There, palms are allowed to grow naturally surrounded by the water that gives them life and a beautiful pond where animals live in peace across from the oasis. We've also made the trek to Salvation Mountain to see the mountain created by Leonard Knight and to Slab City. I'd never heard of the mountain or city but I'm glad to have had experienced places that people have created and made their home.

I also love to spend time in Anza Borrego, which also has so many things to do. My favorite thing to do at the Salton Sea is to drive out toward the sea, park my truck and sit and watch the sunset. There are still so many things that I look forward to doing around the Salton sea such as kayaking, hiking the numerous trails, participating in the many events Salton city has year round like treasure trails and just making memories to last a lifetime.  

4. What is to you the most important reason for restoring the Salton sea? Do you believe it should be restored or let nature take its course? Why?

I think the most important reason to save the Salton Sea is because just "letting nature take its course" will most likely have a devastating effect on the wildlife that depend on the Salton Sea.

Man made the Salton sea and I think its man's job to help keep the Salton Sea from becoming a danger to surrounding areas. I believe letting the Salton Sea fend for its self is the wrong way to go. If people  think the sea is bad now it can only get worse without the help that it desperately needs.

I hope that people will look beyond the negative attention the Salton Sea gets and take the time to learn about what it and the surrounding area have to offer. Helping save the Salton sea is not only in the best interest of the people of the Salton Sea but also for the many cities within hundreds of miles of the sea. Those people need to do research and realize that they will be effected if nothing is done to help so in turn this should be their fight as well.

Thank you Terresa for your time!!

All photos courtesy of T. Sanchez 


6th December, 2012

Andrew Lawrence
Salton City, CA

Andrew was one of the crew helping clean up the Salton Sea at the annual Beach clean -up Day. For more info on that event:
Here are his thoughts on this area.

1. When was the first time you can remember coming out to the Salton Sea and what brought you here?

In early 2007 I had purchased a Kawasaki Ninja 250 Motorcycle. By the Summer that 
same year something had drew me to the Salton Sea (probably old skateboard videos 
of empty pools and legends of streets that go nowhere).
So one day after trying to convince some friends that had bikes to come with, 
I ended up going the long cruise from Murrieta solo. The ride past the windmills 
is the scary part on that light motorcycle. First place I stopped was Salton City's
yacht club drive where the yacht club once stood. What a sight, but no empty pool 
(it had been covered back up). By summer of 2009 I was moving and buying a home 

2. What is a favourite memory of being here, a particular event, occasion, 
occurrence etc?
The Year I finally took the trip to meet Leonard Knight and see Salvation Mountain,
I couldn't believe my eyes. I talked with him, got a tour, and had him sign my  
poster of the first movie I saw him in; Plagues & Pleasures of the Salton Sea 
Shortly after that quest I had heard that he had left the Mountain.

3. Do you have a place here at the Sea that you would call your favourite? And why?

Dos Palmas Preserve. Beautiful, quiet/secluded, full of history and fun to get to. 
I need to go back.

4. What are your hopes and dreams for the Salton Sea? What would you like to see 
happen? If you thought 20 years down the road to 2032 what do you believe this 
area will look like?

My hopes are that the red tape can be cut and people can unify for this complex 
cause before its too late to save the sea by 2018. I want better air quality. 
I want something done about our high magnitude unemployment rate. I want our 
drinking water clean, safe and free of contaminants (like arsenic). I want better 
public transportation and better schools. The Burrtec dump needs to be further 
addressed and tourism needs to be restored also.

We need massive clean-up efforts. I don't want this to become the Aral Sea.
The media needs to stop ignoring the situation. Also as an essential migratory 
rest stop for endangered birds, and with no where else to go, it could have major 
negative effects on bird populations/species. Not to mention the health risks 
involved to humans if the sea dries up.
Economically, if the Salton Sea DID die, it could potentially drag the rest of 
California's economy with it, maybe even the whole country's.

In 20 years I see this area as the jewel of the Coachella Valley once again. 
Rivaling neighboring resort cities like Palm Springs and Indian Wells in the 1950's 
and 60's. Maybe like a Laughlin or Lake Havasu. I want the state park to compete 
with Yosemite once again. Boating, off-roading, fishing, camping, vacation Mecca
All recreation and tourism fully restored. Sporting events like racing or polo? 
Music festivals? National Park? Independent with renewable energy and supplying the 
rest of the county along with it through wind, solar, and geothermal methods. 
I think the whole world will know, The Salton Sea.
Some say I might be a dreamer, but I'm wide awake! Man created the sea, man can save 
it. Thanks for your time.

All photos courtesy of A.Lawrence

3rd December, 2012

Susan Millan and Room 9
5th Grade
Sunflower Elementary, El Centro

This lovely group came all the way from El Centro to participate in the annual Beach Clean-Up right here in Salton City. After the event, the whole class worked on the article that I wrote on the clean-up below as part of their studies. Here is what they have to say.

"The article, “The Salton Sea Speaks,” written by Christina Lange, is found via a link on her Facebook page.  The author explains how 18 volunteers (8 from El Centro) showed up for the Salton Sea Annual Beach Clean-up.  The El Centro group picked up over 200 lbs. of trash.  She later states how windy conditions keep negatively affecting the desert landscape.
          The author’s purpose is to inform the public about this worthy cause, while at the same time, persuading people to go and get involved in the Salton Sea clean-up.  I agree with Christina because littering is a major problem everywhere.  More people ought to get involved!  Only 18 showed up, and that is a pitifully small number of people, especially when the population of Salton City alone is almost 4,000.  Maybe some people think that this inland sea is too polluted and can never be cleaned up.  Others had various prior commitments and that’s why they couldn’t show up that day.  The Salton Sea is important as it is California’s largest lake!
          This article is very relevant to our study of courage.  Christina’s expressing gratitude is a fine example of emotional courage.  The whole action of picking up litter illustrates moral courage.  Finally, physical courage is evident in that the volunteers were trying a new physical experience in the outdoors.
     [....]  Her message was clear because she didn’t merely state facts, and her words stirred up many emotions in me.  In conclusion, Ms. Lange’s message was a positive one encouraging more people to get involved in the Salton Sea clean-up effort.  I would highly recommend that others contact Christina about volunteering at the next clean-up event." 


3rd November, 2012

 Andrzej Pyrka

Andrzej, a friend of roughly 15 years, came to visit me in Salton City just recently for less than 24 hours. It was great to have him visit, as I do love having visitors and love showing people around the Sea and passing on what knowledge I have gained on this stunning and complex area. We did what we could in this brief time, which included a trip once all around the Sea, a stop at North Shore, the Salton Sea State Recreation Area, Salvation Mountain and the Wheels of Karma and War, the mudpots, Red Hill Marina, and driving along the shoreline just South of Sonny Bono. Unfortunately we had to hightail it after that (until the border patrol, where it was slowtailing it for some time) back to Salton City as he had to get back to LA that same evening.

After he left I wrote him asking whether he would like to participate by answering a few questions I had with regards to his visit to this area and he agreed. Here is the result. Thank you for taking your time for this interview!

*If you could please introduce yourself*
I am Andrzej Pyrka, was born in Poland, grew up in Germany, have lived in France, 
the US, Mexico and Belgium at some point in my life and now work in Singapore. 
Am a political scientist working for a consulting company and feel very passionate 
about traveling - especially to the hidden gems of the world, where you don't 
encounter busloads of other tourists.
*What were your first impressions? You had mentioned coming out here with 
contradicting views of the Salton Sea. Could you expand a little on that?*

Since I knew that you are enthusiastic about the region and I trust your judgment, 
it was not MY contradicting views that I came with. I was very much looking forward 
and expecting it to be nice after I had heard so many interesting things about the 
Sea. But it is true that the people that I told I was driving out to the Salton 
Sea were very divided in what they had to say about it. Some said it was a great 
and beautiful place, others would almost 'warn' me to come out here claiming that 
it was a boring and gloomy area and that it was not worth my time. It seems that 
among people living in LA the Salton Sea has a reputation of being the 
'end of the world', a godforsaken place that one should stay away from. People do 
not know much about the sea, but what they know - e.g. the military tests in the 
nearby mountains, the dead fish, the smell - scares them away.

*What was your favorite part? And your least favorite part?*

Interestingly, it's exactly this 'scary' and supposedly unattractive element about 
the Salton Sea that makes it so attractive and special to me - I remember arriving 
at the North Shore in the morning and looking across the Sea that was lying there 
peacefully in beautiful light and with Pelicans and Cranes creating a picturesque 
scenery. Such images one usually only gets to share with a huge number of other 
viewers, tourists, photographers. I was trying to think of comparable places I had 
been to earlier, that were as easily accessible and of similar beauty, for example 
a lake in the Austrian alps. On a Saturday morning, such a mountain lake would 
have been full with people, and it would have been virtually impossible to witness 
this solemn and sublime 'zen' atmosphere for the crowds running around. Since the 
Salton Sea seems to scare more people away than it attracts these days, the visitor
can experience unspoilt and almost unshared beauty.
The least favorite part is that all the beauty and special character of the place 
is tainted by the feeling of decay that is difficult to shake off.
Anywhere one looks and goes, there are abandoned buildings, foreclosed houses, 
stories about the Sea's former glory and alarming news about a disappearing lake. 
This of course is not very uplifting, and all this is difficult to forget while 
discovering the beauty of the place. It's like meeting a wonderful person and 
finding out that this person has been infected with an incurable disease that will 
soon lead to certain death.

*The Salton Sea has been in the news quite often recently due to the stench 
that reached LA. Even all the way in Germany, where you keep up with the news, it 
had made the magazines. Do you think that this has a positive or negative effect 
on the Salton Sea?*

The positive/negative depends a bit on what one think is best for the Salton Sea at 
the moment. If the focus is on waking up policy-makers so they get start taking 
action regarding the Sea's most pressing issues, I think recent global media 
attention is certainly great. Just imagine high-ranking Californian officials 
being asked by a delegation on visit from Germany what the matter was with that 
stinking sea and what was being done about it. The officials will certainly want 
to have a good response to that. If the goal is to attract tourists, I don't think 
recent media reports have done the Salton Sea good. With all the more famous 
tourist attractions across the US, nobody will reserve a weekend to drive out to a 
smelly place; at best such reports will draw 'urban explorers' to come to Salton, 
the type of people that get a kick out of discovering abandoned buildings and 
sites and doing sort of a 'forbidden tourism'.

 Thank you for your time and input Andrzej - come and visit again!!


  1. I'm a resident of Mecca CA, which is 5 minutes away from the Salton Sea, and I'm so glad to see that there's people that sees the Beauty of this Sea. Your information brings a lot of hope.This page is AWESOME! i love it.

    1. Dear Juanita, thank you!!!! Super happy to hear you love it! If you would like to take part, let me know! And, yes we need to continue getting the message out that there are people who care about this place and love it!
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. christina