A Brief Stay along the Salton Sea
Monday morning, I reluctantly broke camp at Ogilby Road, now one of my favorite all-time boon docking spots, and headed west to the Salton Sea. Route 78 west takes you through the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, a mecca for dune buggies and four wheelers.
A Single Digit Salute to Caltrans Employees
In the image above you can just see a tower and what look like some buildings at the peak of the highest sand dune. As I drove the motorhome closer, I could make out a couple large RV’s with trailers parked up there and then noticed a sign indicating that there was an observation point up there. A wide paved road appeared to the left of the highway that takes you to the top.
Now normally, when I am traveling with the Prius in tow, I am very, very, cautious about driving up this type of road, always being afraid there may not be room to turn around since I can not back up with the car on the tow dolly. But since I could see the two big rigs already up there, I decided to risk it to get a bird’s eye view of the dunes below.
Big mistake ! About half way up the very steep two lane paved road, the road was completely blocked by a good two feet of wind blown sand! So, there I was, unable to proceed, and also unable to back up, and absolutely no way to turn around. My only option, unload the Prius, drive it down the hill, then back the motorhome and unloaded dolly down the very steep incline. As most people reading this probably know, backing a small tow dolly behind a large motorhome is something you always wish to avoid.
About the time I got the motorhome down to the bottom and managed to get it turned around, a Caltrans work truck pulled in and parked just a few feet behind me, but leaving me room to be able to get the Prius loaded, once I walked back up the hill and drove it down. This was now around 9:30 AM, and the lone state employee carefully avoided making eye contact with me as he lit up a smoke and I went about my business. A few minutes later, a large dump truck with snow ( sand ) plow attached pulled in and parked next to the first truck at the bottom of the hill, I imagine waiting for me to retrieve the Prius and get out of the way so he could begin removing the sand blocking the road.
Now you could probably guess that I really wanted to ask these guys why someone could not be bothered to put out some barriers blocking entrance to this Oobservation Point Road or at least put up a temporary sign indicating that the entrance road was impassable and thus closed. I wanted to, but I restrained myself since, who knows, they may have been somewhere else doing something more important.
By the time I had the Prius reloaded, two other tourists driving pickups had pulled off the highway to drive to the top. The guy in the plow truck, now about half way through the sand blockage, obviously saw these folks waiting to drive to the top, yet for some reason stopped his plowing and backed down the hill to join his chain smoking buddy in the first truck … for what apparently was coffee break time ! Too bad for anyone wanting to get through the blockage, whether those two vehicles at the bottom or the vehicles at the top who were also trapped and waiting to get down.
After all, a unionized government employee of a super liberal state undoubtedly has his priorities, and serving the public most likely sits at the bottom of that list.
OK, sorry, rant over, but this incident really did tick me off. This just happens to be the first time in four years of full timing and traveling with the Prius in tow, that I did have to unload to get out of a situation like this, and this should never have happened.
Corvina Beach Primitive Campground
This was my primitive campsite for two nights at the Corvina Beach Campground on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. Campground is probably overstating it since it is essentially just a wide gravel parking lot with some picnic tables and fire rings, along with a few trash barrels. No water or dump on site, although you are allowed to use the facilities a few miles north on Route 111 at the main campground free of charge if you are staying here. Camping fee is $10 or $8 for a senior.
Despite the highway running closely parallel to the campground and a busy railroad track running on the other side of the highway, I had a couple nights of blissful sleep here under dark starlit skies. The trains were fairly heavy during the day, but I never heard one pass at night. I actually enjoyed my two nights here and would have stayed longer if not for the weather forecast … temps into the 90’s here at an elevation of 200 feet below sea level, so I had to head to higher ground, a few thousand feet up in Joshua Tree National Park.
Several years ago, when visiting Anza Borrego for desert flowers, I drove east to check out the western shore of the Salton Sea. I remember discovering a very depressing site where obviously many grand dreams had gone to die. I always wondered if perhaps there was a more pleasant story over on the eastern shore. Turns out there wasn’t.
The image above was taken at the Niland County Park and Boat Launch, obviously abandoned years ago, although the state highway signs on Route 111 still stand that announce a campground out here ( there isn’t one ). Another Caltrans neglected duty?
I drove south from where I was staying at Corvina to check out the Wister State Wildlife Area, without a doubt the most depressing, neglected wildlife area I have ever come across, then proceeded a little farther south to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, also not exactly a place I would want to revisit. This is a very neglected part of the great state of California and I suppose it’s just as well I’m only passing through..
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