While still a few pegs down from the sudden pretension of Palm
Springs, Borrego Springs is an oasis of grumpy old retirees
who've lost their well-to-do occupational-social standing, join
exclusive golf clubs and berate each other over coffee in the
morning. It's a nice, sunny functional town in the middle of the
(Anza-Borrego) desert though, with a big lush green traffic
circle. It even has a performance theatre and a few galleries. To
the east, Salton City, Salton Sea Beach (where I stayed), and
Bombay Beach on the other hand, are once-popular summer
properties and resorts gone seriously awry. Come sundown you can
see hundreds of birds floating on the sea -- just in front are
many thousands of that evening's floating fish carcasses which
will wash up on shore by morning. Just one variety of saltwater
fish (orange-mouth corvina), whose eyes are picked-out by the
seagulls. Some beaches consist of nothing but small bleached,
crunchy fish bones. I didn't see one boat in the water the whole
time I was there. Depending on the wind, at times the smell of
dead fish is overwhelming. Irrigation in the district is
diverting new water that would have flowed into the evaporating,
highly saline sorry sea. It doesn't seem very hopeful; millions
have been spent and lawsuits launched all to no avail. There are
several abandoned motels, resorts, and many ransacked private
trailer homes. It sure is cheap though; many elderly welfare
recipients wait out their days smoking, drinking, playing bingo
and cards. Between these extremes, are still quite a few RV parks
catering to the transient-retiree, although many impromptu sites
spring-up in the desert. The most infamous I suppose, is Slab
City -- hundreds of rigs, some very expensive and tricked-out
with solar panels, generators, satellite dishes, water
reservoirs, others, desperately poor -- a free RV park on the
site of a failed commercial enterprise that only got as far as
pouring some concrete parking slabs. The RVer does seem
ironically contemporary; most tangible assets, relations,
communities and values are liquefied for instant flight and trial
reconfiguration. I still admire the formidable desert; it was
_just beginning to bloom... a few hints of color here and there;
I don't think I'd like to see it at "full throttle" -- too
alarming. In fact, it took me a few days to erase the embedded
San Francisco siren noises from my consciousness -- the silence
and spiritual stillness of the desert are irrefutable. I also
caught the tail-end of the International Bird Festival; while I
didn't attend any scheduled events, I did see many birds:
especially huge flocks of thousands of Snow Geese. It seemed as
though a few dozen birds circling in the air above the main flock
on the ground would somehow signal them to suddenly move-on all
at once -- quite a sight and sound!

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