I swear, I can smell this place just looking at these photos. What. A. PIT.
The Salton Sea (quick tidbit lesson) was formed when a river burst its banks and flooded this desert plain. It quickly became "the" place to be - The Beach Boys had a place here, Sonny Bono...it was like a tropical oasis in the middle of the Southern California desert. People were flown over in small planes and without even landing would snap up lake-front property from the air. I'm guessing it was all very Copa Cobana, swinging-60's, pastel motel big-finned car cha-cha wonderful.
Well. Nature said no. Not being a natural lake with no natural drainage or fresh water coming in, it quickly got manky. A layer of algae formed on the bottom and slowly sucked all the goodness and oxygen out of the water. Combine that with the heavily agricultural surrounding area which was dumping toxins and pesticides in it, and well...a huge stink cloud of poisonous gas formed from it, and millions of dead fish and birds lined the beaches. The beaches? Yes, the white "sand". It's actually the spongy, stinking crushed-up bones of the lake's disgusting history. Fast forward to now, and the rotting carcases of luxury hotels and yacht clubs line the shores, with half-submerged (from flooding, neglect) trailers, ranch homes, cars and furniture all just sitting there...rotting. In every sense of the word. It's super saline, so the salt crusts on things and eats away at the structures. The few people that live there live in the most post-apocalyptic landscape I've ever seen. Or smelled. Horrific. Yet fascinating.
We didn't make it to Bombay Beach, which is apparently the worst of the abandoned cities. It has food still on the shelves in cans, and teddy bears and homes left as if the people literally left in a few hours and took only what they could carry. (Though, if a poisonous gas cloud and millions of dead animals were washing up on my front stoop, I'd probably high-tail it outta there too.)