Unworldly Beauty at the Alviso Salt Ponds

One late summer day, I headed to Alviso Marina County Park for my usual walk on the trails around the tall grasses of the saltwater marshes. The day was sunny and breezy without a cloud in the sky. The onshore breeze kept me cool and put me in the mood to explore beyond my comfort zone of the marshes and into the unknown territory (for me) of the salt ponds.

The Saltwater Marsh

As I left the saltwater marsh area, I found myself on a dusty, gravel trail that stretched into what looked like miles ahead of trail fading into the horizon. Before long my nose picked up a mildly unpleasant, unidentifiable odor as I approached a barren wasteland of brown and red-tinged salt ponds edged by dry scrub brush. I felt as if I had stepped into another world.

Captivated by the patchwork landscape of mud, dry grasses, and odd-colored water, I kept going. I dodged puffs of sea foam as it floated across my path carried by the stiff Bay breeze. Was that a snake I saw moving in the grass? I hoped not.

The Salt Ponds

I took comfort knowing I wasn’t the only soul exploring this barren trail. A gray-haired couple passed me on their way back from nowhere. A bicyclist passed me and became the size of an ant on the horizon until I could no longer see him. I wondered did the path lead somewhere or was he eventually coming back my way?

After an hour of walking and not seeing an end in sight, I turned back towards “earth” and the salt marshes. Along the way, I came across a pair of photographers sitting on tiny folding chairs, their cameras, fitted with giant zoom lenses, atop tripods. They chatted quietly while waiting for something interesting to appear. I’m guessing that “something interesting” was waterbirds.

While I enjoyed this adventure, I prefer “planet earth,” and plan to stick to the saltwater marshes on future visits.

Inspiration: Out of this World.

14 thoughts on “Unworldly Beauty at the Alviso Salt Ponds

  1. Wow! Alviso seems to be getting popular again! This is not the first article I have seen about it. My ancestors established the Bayshore Foundry on El Dorado Street behind Vahl’s Restaurant. The building was still there a few years ago; although I doubt it is still there now. If you noticed the historical pictures of the floods, there was one of my great grandparents leaving their foundry by boat. My great grandmother does not look happy. Tony Santos worked at the foundry back in the 1950s. Even though Alviso seems to be a bit run down, it happens to be one of the better preserved places in the Santa Clara Valley. It still looks much like it did when I was a kid. Maude of Harold and Maude lived in her boxcar somewhere near the Marina parking lot.

    1. So cool that your ancestors established the Bayshore Foundry. I can understand why your great grandmother didn’t look happy having to leave Alviso by boat during the flood. It’s wonderful that you have historical pictures of your family during those times. I didn’t know Maude lived in a boxcar in Alviso. That’s a fun tidbit to learn.

      I love places like Alviso that look frozen in time. It’s what makes the place unique. I wouldn’t want to see the town modernized. It’s probably why I also find myself drawn to San Juan Bautista.

      1. Alviso was planned to be the second largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was New Chicago, which is why the street names are similar to those in downtown Chicago. There was another Port Chicago in Contra Costa County and a New Chicago in Amador County. People must have really liked Chicago. Anyway, Alviso was planned as silt from the hydraulic gold mining in the Sierra Nevada was filling the San Francisco Bay, and as pumping of well water was causing subsidence in the Santa Clara Valley. Some investors bought parcels while still in Michigan and elsewhere, only to arrive in Alviso to find their parcels under water at high tide.
        Unfortunately, because real estate is what it is here, Alviso is already being redeveloped.

      2. Tony, I’m loving learning the history of Alviso from you!! It’s such a special place. Even if redeveloped, I hope it keeps it’s original vibe. How about that house boat askew on dry land near the park?

      3. Is that the one with the palm trees near it? I do not remember that one being askew. Nor do I know anything about it. I doubt it was there during the flood in 1982.

    1. Thanks, Manja! Through your lens, I’ve come to know the beauty of Slovenia, and would love to visit one day. Cool that you have salt ponds there, too! I wouldn’t want to miss seeing them.

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