Saturday, February 8, 2014

Salton Sea and Snowbirds

I have heard the term Snowbirds growing up in Toronto and always thought it referred to Canadians that head down to Florida during the winter months to enjoy the warmer weather. Well I have found out another location that west coast Canadians flock to and that is the Fountain of Youth Spa near the Salton Sea. After coming across this You Tube Video about the Salton Sea I decided we had to visit. At 220ft below sea level, the Salton Sea was created by accident and is one of the largest inland seas in the world. It has a salinity level 30% greater than any ocean and virtually all fish species other than the Tilapia can't tolerate the high salt content. The Fountain of Youth Spa was referred to me by a fellow Vanagon e-mail list member. It was very close to the Salton Sea and certainly didn't disappoint.

Still trying to take full advantage of my wife's maternity leave - we packed up the Vanagon and were on our way. Here's Brooke and mom all safe and ready to start another adventure!

I have found that we now need to double the estimated travel time that my iPhone maps estimates when we take into account the needed feeding/diaper change stops as well as the slower Vanagon travel speeds. With that said our 3 1/2 hour journey took around 6 hours and we arrived at the Fountain of Youth Spa. The first thing I noticed is the immense size of the RV resort that is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. With over 800 RV sites, we took up camp in one of their dry camping spots next to one of what I would soon discover to be many Canadians residing there.
Here we are all set up on our first night with a view of the Salton sea in the distance in front as well as the beautiful mountains in the back.

Fountain of Youth Spa was more of a resort than an RV park with amazing amenities, clean facilities and some of the friendliest people we have come across. With my autoclub membership our nightly rate was only $17 but much less expensive rates were available depending on length of stay. Here are some pictures showing just a portion of all the amenities.
The largest horseshoe pit I have ever seen:
Amazing pools and spas:

With many other features and activities, I can see why so many people flock to this incredible location and stay for months at a time.

Our very friendly neighbor from BC invited us over for a hot dog dinner on our last evening so I decided to try out our new 300 light LED light strip.

Brooke was of course loving every moment of the trip.

After two days of fun it was time to visit Bombay beach. In the 1950's and 60's this was a thriving resort where guests swam, water-skied and golfed during the day, then headed to the yacht club. Now, Bombay Beach is a bleached, rusted, abandoned wasteland with smells of salt, petrol and rotting fish. The shores, once lined with sunbathers, are covered in green sludge and desiccated fish carcasses. It's an apocalyptic landscape but amazing to witness.

This isn't sand, but fish bones that crunched under every step

An absolutely surreal experience and I found it incredible that almost 300 people still live here as residents.

Being a Vanagon lover, I discovered a couple that decided to live a nomadic lifestyle by working and living in their Westfalia. A benefit of following this group was discovering a place called Salvation Mountain. Please check out their website for more info about their travels Where is my office now
Made from thousands of gallons of paint, it encompasses numerous murals and areas painted with Bible verses. Created by a man named Leonard Knight, it took over 25 years and needs constant maintenance.

Our Vanagon ran great during the entire trip and was another showcase of our ability to camp "off the grid". We will remember this journey fondly as it was another amazing adventure that has shown us the incredible ways people live and survive.