Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Tale of Two Lakes

Big Bear Lake is the sort of place you come to visit and decide to stay. Blue skies. Clean high-altitude air...

... Skiing in the winter. Mountain biking in the summer. An observatory dedicated to studying the Sun (that gives tours)...

And swashbuckling for pirate treasure year round.

Sure, Big Bear is an expensive resort town. Sure it's close to L.A. But its charms are many. After the dust, wind, and grim desolation of the Mojave Desert, I found myself saying to Diane, "I could live here. No, I mean it. I see myself living here." So we had to get out quickly or we might never have left.

We weighed anchor and sailed southward to the Salton Sea. Sitting 200 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea was the result of a breached levy on the Colorado River in 1906 (or thereabouts). Ten miles across, forty miles long, about twenty feet deep, about 25% more salty than the oceans, beaches consisting of fish bones, and a thick-n-funky sort of smell, it's a disaster that won't go away.

They day we visited, it was also dead quiet. Not a breath of wind. Not another soul around. Just us and the sand flies and the fishes and the birds and the setting sun.

And you think to yourself, "I need to get a closer look. No. I need to get out of this place." But in that quiet place you also come to understand that the natural world just is. The fish and the birds and the salt and sea just are. That a lake is but a lake. And one sunset is just the last of many and the first of many more. We rightfully regard these the mountains and the water and the sunset with nonchalance, boredom, appreciation, and even awe. But the truth is they don't notice us. They're here to stay and we're just drifting along. At least this is how it all seemed to me while sitting on a dead calm fishbone beach while watching the sun set on the Salton Sea.

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