Today’s picture was taken five days ago at the Salton Sea. It’s interesting how the place looks so accommodating at first glance–picnic tables, grills, ample parking–that you almost forget that few people travel to the region for recreation. But then you step of the car and remember why the lake is abandoned. The smell. It’s tremendously strong, so much so that any guests in your car are likely to pass on exiting the vehicle even for a minute because the odor is too much to tolerate. I remember my first trip to the lake. I walked around for hours taking pictures during the afternoon–ignoring the smell as best as I could–to the point where my sneakers became two mucky swamp creatures. I don’t recall how many times I had to wash my shoes to get the smell out, but I know the job was akin to removing what dogs jettison on lawns for unfortunate, unaware soles (pun intended).
Nevertheless, the Salton Sea still a beautiful place to photograph. Some of my best shots have come from the lake, and that speaks volumes when I consider how many places I’ve visited over the years, and how many pictures I’ve taken of those destinations. There’s a surreal sadness that hangs over the area. It hints at a time when the air was once fresh and the water was once swimmable. You can almost picture women sunbathing, children running and laughing, and fishermen casting their lines into fish-rich waters. You know the present and past are two different worlds, and only God knows what the future holds for the region. (I’ll save talking about what happened to the Salton Sea for another blog entry.)
-Vincent Lowry (Author of American Vineyard)