Enter the Salton Sea

Those of who grew up in the Reagan years are likely to be familiar with the novel (and phenomenon of) Douglas Coupland’s first novel, Generation X: Tales for and Accelerated Culture.  What some of you might not remember is that the events of the novel take place in and around Palm Springs, which is one of the reasons I like coming here.  I keep looking for the characters around every corner, though they’ve long moved on.  (for more on the book, the movement and the author check out this.)

…one of the locations in the novel is the Salton Sea, to keep a short story long, the sea was created when the Colorado River burst a dike and poured into the desert for almost two years, creating the largest inland body of water in California.  In the 50’s and 60’s this was a hot place for fishing and all sorts of watersports.  Then a series of disasters.  First a couple of hurricanes flooded the beach towns.  Then the inevitable evaporation caused mass die-offs of fish as the sea became to salty for them to survive.  What’s left today is a boulevard of broken dreams.  Abandoned buildings, desiccated beaches covered in barnacles and dead fish, a sad feeling of loss and a set of post-apocalyptic ruins inhabited by a small number of die-hards too stubborn or too poor to move on.

It’s splendid desolation.  Enjoy some photos:


At one time there was a real estate boom – reportedly so hot that people were buying property site-unseen. Today, not so much.

boom sign

An abandoned marina. Currently the lake level is too low for anyone to get a boat in the water.



joyce and marina

It’s not all bad, why look! The International Banana Museum!

international banana museum

Banana Robot

banana machine

banana robot

…and who doesn’t love Giant Gas Station Guy?