Today we took a twenty mile bike ride - all downhill. We started at about 1,000 feet elevation and ended 150 feet below sea level. It was part of a tour. Now that we know the route, we could do it ourselves, but it would mean we would have to ride those twenty miles back uphill to our car. That's not going to happen!
There were only three of us with a guide who drove the sag wagon behind us and stopped every so often to tell us about the changing environment and answer our questions. She pointed out evidence that the San Andreas fault was everywhere along our route. Every so often fan palms were growing in the desert bleakness, a sign that the crack was allowing enough moisture out of the aquifer to keep them going. The first ten miles went through typical desert scenery. Then we entered Marble Canyon, which had dramatic eroded rock formations. The route took us over the canal that brings Colorado River water that we see every so often everywhere we drive. From here it heads toward Yuma bringing the water to the farmers of the Imperial Valley.
Once we got below sea level we were in irrigated farm country. Flat green fields stretched as far as the eye could see toward the Salton Sea. This is a unique body of water that we hope to investigate further tomorrow. The area grows table grapes; wine grapes need a cooler climate. Strawberries, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and dates all come from these fields. Although dates are not my favorite fruit - both the flavor and consistency are unpleasant - the tour ended with a date shake. Ice cream was just what those dates needed.