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We visit the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea beach at Salton City

The Salton Sea beach at Salton City

It was a beautiful day in Mexicali, sunshine in the 80s. We decided to drive up to check out the Salton Sea. It’s located in Imperial County, about an hour’s drive from Mexicali. The Salton Sea is 88 feet below sea level and was formed in 1905 when flood waters from the Colorado River flowed in the area.

Our new GPS system, Garmin nüvi 2460LMT, directed us via the easiest route. We like the Garmin as it covers not just the U.S. but Mexico (even Canada), as well with free updates forever!

Matthew, Jim and I piled into the truck. The Garmin guided us to the Calexico border crossing and up CA 111 to Brawley, CA. There we connected with CA 86 going north. CA 86 was new and clean. It was a nice ride. (Anyone looking for a used Tom Tom-cheap?)

On CA 86, we hit a border patrol checkpoint. As we were waived on through, we saw five sad looking people sitting with guards standing in front of them-really over them, while another guard’s sniffer dog excitedly jumped on top of the trunk of their car, while the officers waited.

“Well, that’s the border patrol’s catch of the day,” said Matthew.

Jim was especially excited. “I have always wanted to see the Salton Sea up close. And we are here!” he exclaimed excitedly as we arrived at Salton City.

There was a RV sign that directed us from CA 86 down toward the Salton Sea.

As we drove, we saw this cute house. “Lookin’ good so far huh?” said Jim, with a wide grin.

We continued driving closer to the lake. “Hey Jim, why is there a puddle of water over there?” I asked.


“There Jim!” said Matthew.

“Yeah, there’s a pier and all, with a puddle of water in a valley—looks like the lake is shrinking down,” answered Jim.

”I read somewhere that the water from the Colorado River is now being directed straight to San Diego. The Salton Sea will soon be empty,” explained Matthew.

“Matthew, you always seize to amaze me! Really, no kiddin’, is that why everything around here looks kinda run down?” I asked.

We drove down as close as we could get to the Salton Sea—finally, only a vacant lot separated us from the water.

“Park the truck here, and let’s check out the lake,” I said.

As we got out of the truck, we were hit with strong aroma of decaying shrimp in the air. “Smell that Jim?” I asked.

“You betch your bottom dollar I do,” answered Jim.

“It’s the smell of being in a fish shop,” said Matthew, taking in a whiff of the Salton Sea air.

“I’ll be darn. There are rentals here, goin’ for $550. It should really be $200 to get people to come,” said Jim observing the surroundings of scattered homes, and trailers.

“Looks like the further away you are from the Salton Sea, the better off you are,” I said, continuing, “OK, let’s have lunch. I’m starving; my blood sugar is being affected by all of this.”

The Travertine Grill

The Travertine Grill

We were told by friends to try out a restaurant called the Travertine Grill, if we were ever up in the area.

We drove back from the beach and crossed CA 86 and drove up to the Travertine Grill, which stood in front of some streets dotted with more scattered houses, just like down at the beach.

As we scooted into the restaurant booth, we noticed how nice the place was. It seemed a bit out of place with all the small houses and trailers around.

“This here countertop is travertine,” said Matthew, our resident expert in all things.

“Did you see the prices of food on this here menu?” said Jim, while taking another quick look-over at the prices.

“Gosh, a hamburger is ten bucks!” said Matthew.

”Food prices in this here neighborhood should be like at a normal hamburger joint,” chimed in Jim.

Well, we were hungry so we bit the bullet and had three chicken Caesar salads, two iced teas and a cup of coffee.  The price was $46.46!

“That’s a hefty sum, for this area. We ain’t comin’ back here no more,” said Jim, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

“Jim! Use a napkin!” I yelled, handing him one.

Once outside, we drove around the area behind the Travertine Grill. There were small lots for sale, asking for $9.98 per month. There were some homes that were built some of the lots, but not many. As we drove around, we saw quite a few For Rent signs.

“Looks like quite a few folks is fleeing this area,” noted Jim.

“You know, there could be many scams out here,” said Matthew, looking concerned.

“What scams?” I asked.

Brawley, California

Brawley, California

“Well, I understand that renters go in not knowing that the place is in foreclosure. The landlords just collect the rent, but are not paying their mortgage. The landlords disappear,when the foreclosure company sends the sheriff to evict the renters. It’s a helluva surprise for the renters,” continued Matthew.

On the way back, since we had spent less time than planned at the Salton Sea, we decided to drive around Brawley for a while. It’s a small town of about 24,000 people – smaller even than Calexico.

To our surprise, Brawley is a real pretty town with a one very expensive-looking area.

Just goes to show you never know.

4 comments to We visit the Salton Sea

  • Sharon

    I checked out your Garmin, n very impressed by the price! It has good reviews. just bought it for my husband.
    a Good buy! thanks!

  • Bob

    Dear Maryann,
    I could not stop laughing when I read your post.
    The last reader blew my mind off.
    Thank You for all this wonderful information.
    The next time, I’ll take my mother-in-law there. Maybe she’ll pop her teeth out too?

  • Gladys

    The Salton sea was the in place, but ughRRR! it’s really bad now. We took a drive there, just to check it out, and like u folks, the decaying shrimp smell in the air literally knocked my false teeth off.
    A true incident.
    Thank You MaryAnn!
    Gladys K

  • Charlie

    your post made me laugh but had so much info!@!@%*&%
    the Salton sea area stinks and that whole place is a toxic waste site.
    Gld that u guys saw it for yrself!
    thanks for all the scam tips!
    who knew???

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