Thursday, 17 December 2009


Sand dunes charm me---I'm drawn to them as others are drawn to the ocean. So when darkness overtakes me near the Great Imperial Dunes, I make my way into their heart to spend the night. I've been here before---many years ago I woke to find Stevie Wonder's bus parked beside me. We chatted briefly as his assistants walked him about and he seemed pleased to hear my southern drawl. I stayed to watch him perform---his piano perched high on that tallest dune there, making a video---great backdrop eh? I learned that desert movies are often shot here--two of the most famous being THE SHEIK starring Valentino and FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX starring James Stewart. (If you're puzzled by the blue type---so am I. Sometimes, for mysterious reasons my typing turns blue--then it will suddenly go away----Oh well!) See my rig down there? To the left about a mile is Mexico and not surprisingly a Border Patrol station is nearby. The numerous crisscrossing tracks are made by dune buggies and motorcycles who leave Sunday night, giving me sole possession of the "sandbox" for a time.
I show you this map shot to validate my sub-title: CROSSROAD OF HISTORY. I am camped just to the west and south of exit 159, approximately where the rest area symbol is. The dunes extend a few miles into Mexico and THAT is why this particular spot is so historic. Do you see the Colorado river on the right of the dunes and the coachella canal on the left of the dunes? (That canal carries 90% plus of the rivers' water to the rich, but dry farmlands of the Imperial valley producing 10% of the entire nations' vegetables.) The challenge was how to get the water across the dunes. EARLY BUILDERS JUST COULDN'T DO IT! So they dug their first canal six miles into Mexico and went AROUND the dunes. Well and good---for awhile---but they worried and they worried about all that precious water in Mexican hands---vulnerable to theft and god knows what.
In 1905 mother Nature played a huge prank on us with a super wet year. The river burst through the canal banks and surged north to fill up a dry lake bed we now call the Salton Sea. Things returned to normal---but still we worried----all that precious water---all those thirsty, (thieving?) Mexicans. Finally in the 1940's we "bit the bullet" and dug a canal ACROSS THE DUNES ON THE AMERICAN SIDE and we gave it the eponymous name of-----ALL AMERICAN CANAL.
Precious water entering the dunes-----but guess what? jillions of gallons were lost by seepage and still made its way to Mexico via the underground aquifer. Damn! Those people over there are still getting OUR water. So we thought and we thought---like the Grinch looking resentfully down on whoville----how can we keep the whole damn river to ourselves. Finally we got a brilliant idea---let's line the canal with concrete---stop all that seepage and keep all our cool clear water. Well yeah--we send a splash or two south for humanitarian purposes.
NEW CANAL===OLD CANAL----Mexicans are raising hell---but what do we care. We want what we want when we want it! And Oh by the way--see all that vegetation that once lined the canal giving habitat and food to wildlife--kiss that goodbye too.
An Astronaut took this shot from space recently for Wikipedia showing the progress of the relining project. I think I'll go to that tiny gap to record for you the canal version of a golden spike moment when the eastern and western relining teams connect.
AND HEEEEERE IT IS ! East meets West. Notice the clever way they did their work without intefering with the flow of water: That steel plate wall will be removed when the relining section is done.
Now that my work here is done---I'm going to Paradise--will report from there.---Randy--King Of Kodgers.
P.S. Just for the record, I approve of this ingenious but expensive water saving project, paid for, I've heard by SanDiego, who for its money, gets the water that is saved.

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