February 19-20, 2010 – Imperial Dam Recreation Area

We left our little spot at the VFW/BLM land near Yuma and made our way to the Imperial Dam LTVA.  Earlier this week we were in touch with friends we met in Alaska who are here and we decided to check out the place.

And it is beautiful!  We are at the Coyote Ridge area and this is pictures from all angles:

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How about those views!  We hope to explore this area over the next week.

We spent some time getting caught up with each other and had a great campfire on Friday night.  Here is everyone (but me – :-)) (Sharon, Susan, Bruce, John, and Andy):

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The All- American Canal is very close to us and I took a walk down to check it out.  The Canals in the Southwest just fascinate me.  Here is some information from the internet:

“This 85-mile long, canal brings water from the Colorado River to the citizens and agricultural industry of the Imperial Valley. The canal was completed in 1940, to replace a previous canal which served the same function, but traveled partly through Mexico (hence the name of the All American). The canal, one of the largest in the United States, travels through one of the hottest and driest places in the country, and is the sole source of water for the nation's fourth most productive, as well as most arid, agricultural region.

The Imperial Dam, NE of Yuma, Ariz., diverts water from the Colorado River into the All-American Canal, which runs W to Calexico, Calif. Smaller canals move water into the Imperial Valley; the Coachella Canal branches NW to the Coachella Valley. This canal system irrigates more than 630,000 acres (254,961 hectares) and has greatly increased crop yield in the area

The All-American Canal was built in the 1930s by the United States Bureau of Reclamation under the supervision of its then chief designing engineer, John L. Savage and was completed in 1942.[2] The Bureau of Reclamation owns the canal, but the Imperial Irrigation District operates it. Water for the canal is diverted at the Imperial Diversion Dam. The All-American Canal feeds, from east to west, the Coachella Canal, East Highline Canal, Central Canal and the Westside Main Canal. These four main branches of the canal and a network of smaller canals gradually reduce the flow of the All-American Canal until it ends at a small drop in the western Imperial Valley where it drains into the Westside Main Canal. The main canal is 82 miles (132 km), with a total drop of 175 feet (53 m), a width of 150 to 700 feet (210 m) and a depth of 7 to 50 feet (15 m) The canal gets smaller as it runs west because it carries less water.

Eight hydroelectric power plants have been constructed along drops in the All-American Canal system. Drops 1 through 5, Pilot Knob, East Highline and Double Weir are located on the All-American Canal. Another power plant, Turnip, is located on the Central Main Canal branch. The power plants are all relatively small and have a combined capacity of 58 MW. Electricity generation is dictated by water delivery needs. There is also a 7.2 MW pumped storage plant at Senator Wash Dam. Water from the Senator Wash Reservoir is released when water needs exceed flows at Parker Dam.

Runoff from the farmland irrigated by the All-American Canal make up most of the flows in the Alamo River and New River, both of which drain into the Salton Sea, providing most of its water.[citation needed][3] The rest is from smaller rivers and drainage systems. If not for the All-American Canal, the Salton Sea would have likely dried up long ago.[citation needed] The system transports silt, selenium and salts from the Colorado River into the sea. Because there is no outlet to the sea, these salts and minerals are concentrated by evaporation.[4]

This is the bridge over the canal near where we are camped.  The water on the left is flowing from the Imperial Dam upstream.

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It flows underground here (under the bridge and this area in the center) and comes out the other side.  This was designed in the 1930s to help slow/regulate the flow of water since the flow of water depends on gravity (see above – a drop of 175’).  Pretty amazing!

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The full view upstream:

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The full view downstream:

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Miles Traveled: 17 Miles (Long Drive – LOL!)

Routes Traveled:

Arizona: SR-95; Imperial Dam Road

California: Imperial Dam Road; Senator Wash Road; Ferguson Road

Today, Saturday, we made the trek to Algodones to see Dr. Roberto Arce because one of my crowns had fallen out.  He did a great job in putting it back in but in the future I will be needing a root canal and new crown…  Hopefully I will be okay until next season.

And, of course, another beautiful day in the desert!  Life doesn’t get any better than this – :-)))


February 16 - 18 , 2010 – Friends and Family in Yuma

We have had a great time here visiting our family and friends.

On Wednesday evening we had everyone here for hamburgers on the fire – and of course, a great campfire in the evening.

Raul, Dale, Keith:

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Keith, Michelle, Andy, and Sandy:

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We met Keith and Michelle in Pahrump in November.  Sandy and Raul are our son-in-law’s parents.  Dale is Sandy and Raul’s daughter’s father-in-law.  It was great to see everyone again.

We have also spent some time getting laundry done and stocking up on supplies as well as a trip to Algodones, Mexico for a haircut.

The weather has been beautiful – actually, getting a little hot during the day.

Scenes from around the camping area – these are the trees near the canal – they are huge:

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The farm across the canal:

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Opposite from the canal:

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Our little camping area – check out that scenery – WOW!

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We are planning to move to the Imperial Dam BLM area tomorrow.  But I have lost a cap so we may be heading to the dentist first – stay tuned.


February 15, 2009 – Travel to Yuma

We left the Elks in Indio today and made our way to Yuma.  Scenes from the road:

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We initially wanted to stay at the Escapee Park but they were full so we decided to stay on BLM land on SR-95 just north of Yuma.  Here is our site:

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And our little Dusty is just thoroughly enjoying the outdoors:

Rolling around in the sand (boy was he dirty!):

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Looking for mice and chipmunks and squirrels:

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Doesn’t he look like a mountain lion?:

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So how does he like traveling?   Not too well yet!  He hides while we travel.  We are hoping that changes as time goes by.

So as you see from above, we have a wonderful little site nestled in the dunes and trees.  We expect to be here for a few days visiting friends and family so stay tuned.


Miles Traveled: 162 miles

Routes Traveled:

California: Madison Avenue, Avenue 48, SR-86; I-8

Arizona: I-8; Fortuna Road; SR-95


February 12-14, 2010 – Time with Family

On Friday, 12th, we made our way up to the Indio Elks for the weekend.  My cousins, Jim and Deb live in Palm Desert, a short ride from here.   And we had a wonderful time, chatting, laughing, telling stories, oh my.  And Deb fixed up some great dinners…  It was so good to spend the weekend with them and hopefully we will see them again next season.

Stats for Friday:

Miles Traveled:   63 Miles

Routes Traveled:

California: Beal Street and Main Street, Niland; SR-111, Madison Avenue

Jim and Deb:

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Andy enjoying the weather:

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For my east coast friends (Sorry, just had to do this – :-))).  Yes, the weather was beautiful!

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Spring is here!  Grapefruit Tree:

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Lemon Tree:

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And the flowers, oh my:

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What a contrast – Palm Trees and Snowy Mountain Tops:

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What a great weekend – Thank you Jim and Deb!


February 11, 2010 – Just Hanging Out

And that is what we did today.  I updated my blog and got caught up with emails – so if you haven’t heard from me and should, send me an email.

The military has been quite busy while we were here with maneuvers and bombing the mountain.  Fascinating to see at night.  We did get a chance to see the Osprey a few times and today they were really close overhead – WOW!

We have really enjoyed our time here and hope to be back soon.  We have met a lot of good people here and it was sad to say goodbye at the campfire.

Tomorrow we are headed to Palm Desert / Indio area to spend time with my cousin.


February 10, 2010 – More Salton Sea

This morning started out rainy so we went to town, Niland, to pick up some items.  By lunchtime the clouds were lifting so we took another road trip.

Our first stop was Bombay Beach.  This was another resort town that has fallen on hard times.

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Can you imagine what this area must have been when the Salton Sea was healthy?  So sad.

Our next stop was Salt Creek Campground – part of the Salton Sea State Park:

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And our last stop was the Niland Boat Launch/County Park – which is now closed:

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In yesterday’s blog, I wrote information on the Salton Sea and the towns surrounding it.  I feel so bad for the people that had hoped to have booming communities.  This area is truly beautiful – too bad no one has championed the cause since Sonny Bono died.

This evening we had another great campfire night – :-))

February 8 – 9, 2010 – The Birds, Mud Volcanoes and Salton Sea


Woke up this morning feeling great and ready to do something so we decided a road trip would be fun.

Our first stop was the mud volcanoes:

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So what are they you ask.  Well here is an explanation from an internet site:

What are the mud pots and mud volcanoes?
Mud pots and mud volcanoes are caused by liquids and gasses bubbling to the surface of the earth and bringing up mud. The mud pots and mud volcanoes at the Salton Sea are caused by water seeping through the earth to an underground layer of limestone, dissolving it, and producing (among other things) carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide then returns to the surface bringing up mud, minerals, and some oil. In most places where the carbon dioxide reaches the surface a small craterlike depression is formed that becomes filled with mud or water through which the carbon dioxide bubbles. These are known as mud pots and there are hundreds of them around the east side of the Salton Sea. Some mud pots are only a couple of feet across while others are over 100 feet across. The mud volcanoes are slightly different and only occur in one location. Here the mud has piled into mounds that hiss and bubble and erupt mud. Geologists call small mud volcanoes like these mud
cones or gryphons. They look like volcanoes from a strange alien landscape and smell a bit like diesel.

And they were percolating.  We have not yet found many mud pots.  There is supposed to be an area here that has a lot of them and someday (when it is drier) we will find them.

We drove past a few of the geothermal plants.

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The San Andreas Fault is thru this area which means that the Earth’s magna is closer to the Earth’s surface.  So as water seeps into the ground, it heats up and that energy is being tapped (there are also many hot springs here too – :-))

Our next stop was the Sonny Bono NWR.  There are a few units of this refuge around the Salton Sea. The refuge was set up because the Salton Sea is a major resting stop on the Pacific Flyway, funneling in birds as they migrate along their north-south routes.  Nearly 400 species of birds have been documented at the Salton Sea, which is almost half the total species of birds known to live in the US.  About 3 million birds use the Salton Sea every day.  (Yes I copied that but I have pictures.)

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We came around a corner and saw hundreds of these birds.

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A little further down the road there was an observation platform.  As we climbed the stairs, all those birds took off – it was amazing to see:

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And then they all settled down.  This is a birder’s paradise.

More views from the platform (the smoke you see is from the geothermal plants):

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We continued on our trip along the west side of the Salton Sea and stopped at Salton City.

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Now here is what is really sad.  Salton City was to be a big resort town but when the issues started happening with the sea, the resort area did not happen.  The city has all the streets laid out but not many houses.  The above 2 pictures are of the marina and boat launch area – as you can see, not much happening.  Here is some more info from an internet site:

What is the Salton Sea?
The Salton Sea is an inland saline lake that lies within both Riverside and Imperial counties. The lake covers a surface area of about 380 square miles, making it the largest lake in California. Like Death Valley it is located below sea level, with the surface of the Salton Sea currently at about 228 ft below sea level. The deepest part of the sea is 51 ft, which is only 5 feet higher than the lowest point of Death Valley. The sea is saltier than the ocean at around 45,000ppm, seawater is around 35,000ppm. The creation of the Salton Sea began by accident in 1905 when heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell and breach an Imperial Valley dike. It took nearly two years to control the river flow into the dry Salton Sink. The sudden influx of water and the lack of drainage from the basin resulted in the formation of the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is the only saline lake in the world with a
resident barnacle. The striped barnacle was most likely introduced to the sea on navy seaplanes and buoys in the 1940's. You’ll see the shells of the barnacles covering the beaches of the Salton Sea.  The lake also has many fish including Tilapia and Corvina, as well as a huge population of migratory birds. Many myths exist about the Salton Sea being polluted or that it’s drying up, but these are not true. Six feet of water evaporates from the sea each year, but this is offset by six feet of water flowing into the sea annually from rivers and agricultural runoff, so the water level remains fairly constant. The sea does not have any significant levels of pollution either. The massive fish and bird die-offs you may have heard about are not caused by pollution. Fish die here in summer because the high temperatures, combined with the sea’s high salinity, causes the oxygen level in the water to drop,
killing the fish. Birds die off because of natural diseases, or from botulism caused by eating the dead and dying fish. Despite these facts many people, even those who’ve lived by the sea for years, still believe the sea is polluted. The bad news is that regardless of these untrue myths, the Salton Sea is “dying”. Four million tons of salt flow into the sea every year but the lake level stays the same, so it’s getting saltier, and when the salt level reaches 60,000ppm the sea will stop supporting life and become “dead”. Many solutions have been proposed to save the Salton Sea such as diverting the Colorado River into it again or building a sea level canal from the Gulf of California, but none have received any support. It’s disappointing that such a huge fish and wildlife resource as the Salton Sea will probably become a dead sea.

Why all these ruins?
From about 1950 onwards the Salton Sea became a major tourist resort area, sometimes referred to as the “Salton Riviera”, California’s equivalent of the French Riviera. People flocked to the sea from far and wide for the incredible fishing and water skiing. A lot of money was spent building facilities and resorts in the area. However by the late 1970s storms, flooding, mismanagement and other mishaps had taken their toll on the resorts. Salinity in the sea rose, fish and bird die-offs began to scare people away, and the myths
about pollution in the sea caught on. By 1980 any hope of a return to the boom era was gone. Eventually the Salton Sea was forgotten and Palm Springs became the resort town of choice for people from the California coast. Congressman Sonny Bono (of “Sonny and Cher” fame) made a commitment to save the sea in 1997 but was killed in a skiing accident in 1998. Few solid commitments to save the Salton Sea have been made since then. The ruins you see around the Salton Sea today are the relics of those early boom days. A timeline of the amazing history of this strange lake can be found here:

The area around the sea is beautiful and it is so sad to see it go downhill.

We had lunch on the outskirts of Salton City and then headed back where we found a note on our door for a spaghetti dinner.  Mary and Rich had a dinner for about 30 people.  We had a great time and finished the evening chatting around the campfire.  (Thank you, Mary and Rich)


Not much to say about today.  It was laundry day and the rain and thunderstorms started at supper and continued throughout the evening.  With all this rain, the desert flowers will be beautiful.