The Armpit of California

It was back in 2003 and 2004. My buddy and I were hanging out every weekend doing fun stuff. But, seeing the best parts of town, the best malls, eating the best food, and having the best times was getting old. We wanted to try something different. I wrote another blog about how we visited the armpit of Nevada — Battle Mountain. It was just a boring town. There was nothing wrong with it. In my opinion, the whole state of Nevada is an armpit. It is dry, lifeless, people don’t look that healthy, it is immoral, and has no redeeming features except for world-class buffets in Vegas! But, California has a much better armpit! The Salton Sea.

I’m reminded of this trip I took almost ten years ago, because I drove from Yuma to Los Angeles recently. I took what I thought was the most efficient route which passed by the Salton Sea. The lady at the hotel warned me that the trip was at least 4.5 hours under the best conditions. Even with a quick stop for gas and a quick snack at Starbucks and no traffic, I clocked out at almost 5 hours. She was correct!

The Southeast corner of California is the least appealing part of the state. It has not much in the means of a restaurant scene once you leave the Palm Springs area. There is not much culture. It is just desert farming, sand dunes, a few small tribal reservations that don’t have good museums, poverty, and a lot of drug use. The Salton Sea is centrally located in the Southeastern corner of the state. It smells horrible as it is the destination for farm pesticide runoff. It was never a fresh water lake to begin with, but with the pollution, it smells atrocious. The smell of sulfur or rotting eggs permeates the air around this lake.

On our way to the lake, we stopped at a small store. There was a girl who looked like a heroin addict who was dangling her arm out the window. She yelled out to her friend in another car and said, “I love everyone!” I guess it doesn’t matter if you are a drug addict, just as long as you are happy, right? We drove around the lake and found Bombay Beach. Don’t get your hopes up, there is no good Indian food here. But, you can get a cheap place to park your RV for a few months while you relax by the beach.

The lure of this area is that it is the only affordable part of California. You can buy a house for dirt cheap around there. Unfortunately, low prices also attract drug addicts and bad feng-shui!

There are local tribes in that general area as well. They suffer from horrible poverty like many other tribes. There are very few ways to make a living out there. Many do babysitting and sell used clothing to try to get by — I heard. The only big industry out there is farming close to the border, and that is typically monopolized by Mexican immigrants who are highly skilled and hard working. It is hard to compete with them for the type of jobs they are good at!

In any case, we enjoyed our tour of California’s most unattractive region. We decided not to go back there. On another trip we went to the Southern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, went hiking, and almost got lost after sunset. It is a miracle we got out alive!

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