Into the Desert – SoCal Roadtrip Part 2

Jade and I went on a trip a few months ago and have only gotten around to posting photos from the first half of it. I want to apologize. I’m sure you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails, hitting the refresh button for the past thirteen hundred hours, afraid to go to the bathroom because you might miss the big moment, the grand unveiling, the season finale.

Well fear not. It is here, finally; part deuce of our trip down south. Let us begin with a short haiku about the Salton Sea:

It smells like fish butthole

Is that bad?

Unless you’re highly disturbed, yes.

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We pull up to the Salton Sea and see salty swans fly over our sea shored sands….actually, they were pelicans and actually, there was no sand. IN FACT, as I opened my door and lowered my foot to the ground, towards the “sand” I heard a small crunch and, as I looked down, I realized that the shore of the beach was made up of nothing more than thousands and thousands of crushed fish bones that have been washed up over a possible millenia.

It was disturbing, yes; disgusting, you betchya; slightly morbid? Yes, I can get behind that as well. Clementine leapt from the car and started rolling on it, getting the fragile bones tangled up in her short fur, covering herself in sandy fish skin particles. I gag and look to my left.

Kaidance is chewing on a fish head.

I puke.

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Jade tells me to sit down with the dogs for a photo. I tell her that I would rather die. I tell her that I would LITERALLY rather die. I would rather have one of those stupid pelicans swoop down from the sky and pluck my eyes right out of my head then sit down on dried fish guts. I say, “Are you serious? Are you crazy? I mean, fer real? Are you cuhRAZY?”

Jade rolls her eyes and says, quote, “Stop being a sissy”. I change the subject and say, “Hey, look, a golf ball.” I throw it and when it hits the ground / mass grave, “dust” explodes and the wind picks it up and it blows on me and I hold my breath and start looking around for incoming pelicans.

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Can you imagine what a million dead fish smells like? Have you ever tried not flushing your toilet all day to conserve water? Have you ever pulled the lid off of something that ‘s been in your fridge, forgotten, for months? Have you ever had an elephant accidentally sit on you and inadvertently suck you up into his massive bung? Have you ever done all three of these things in one single second and then been forced to breathe that magical essence in for an hour?

I looked across Bone Beach and across the sea / mossy, foamy, green, brown body of liquid waste and saw houses….er……”houses”……Mainly I saw mobile homes.

Of course.

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Finally we’d all had our fill (Kaidance after six fish heads and some crusty fins) and decided to make like an apple tree and get outta there. We coasted gently through the trailer park, examining the fine lawn art (sadly, not pictured), the 4-wheelers for sale, and the exemplary craftsmanship someone had performed while attaching a deck to the top of their double wide. We smiled and waved at the inhabitants, unsure if they spoke our language, unsure if they’d ever seen a human with over six teeth and then, rounding the corner, we found a Dead End sign and I was sure we’d had it. The degenerates, the monsters that called this place home had trapped us. I was positive I’d be turning around only to find a crowd of limping, hunchbacked, underdeveloped Cro-Magnums lumbering toward me with rocks and sticks held high.

No. Nothing. We left, outwardly unscathed, inwardly scarred for life.

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After leaving a place like that, you can’t help but want to find the nearest watering hole to rinse your dry and dusty mouth out. You need to find a gas station to rinse your filthy, flaky skin off. You need some iron wool, a hot steam gun and some sort of scrapey tool to get truly clean.

Alas, we were in the desert and had none of this. We slept in our filth. We ate with it’s stench clinging to us.

We were becoming hobos, traveling vagrants. The transformation had begun.

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We traveled on to the nearest town (pictured below), which was pretty much a bust.

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We drove on some more to the NEXT town, which definitely had more buildings, although they all seemed to have been emptied and abandoned long ago, say…….1962…..

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We drove on and found ANOTHER mobile home park. We coasted around in it for a bit, hoping to see something remarkable. We found that most of the inhabitants decide to leave their Christmas lights / ornaments up year round, probably for simplicity’s sake. What with all the drugs they’re undoubtedly cooking in their bathtubs, they probably don’t have any time left to deal with menial things like front yards.

Jade takes a picture of their post office and then we dart out of town before nightfall, before we would surely be raped and eaten by The Imbreds.

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In the morning, civilization……

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…..sort of……

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We park in the McDonald’s lot, brush our teeth, order breakfast and go to………..I turn to Jade and ask, “Where, exactly, are we going now?” I tell her, “I’ve sort of had my fill of trailer parks”. She nods and agrees, pulls out her eye-phone and does a search for “Things to do at Salton Sea”. A moment passes before she says, “We could go see Jesus Mountain”.

She doesn’t have to explain what it is. I am sold.

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A man who’s name I can’t remember started building Salvation Mountain in a year I can’t recall and he’s been at it ever since. People donate paint to him and he just covers this mountain in it. He paints it different colors and he paints different phrases about love and salvation and peace and people can come see it and it’s free and crazy.

The mountain is hollowed out and painted inside as well. It is one enormous piece of art.

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We researched it and found that a number of organizations have offered to pay this man money. They’ve offered him large sums of cash to fund his project. They would pay for the paint and let him go nuts, just as he already has.

…the only catch is that these groups would like him to rope in the message a little bit. They’d like him to explain that God’s love isn’t EXACTLY for everyone. They’d like him to say that it’s not for gay people and most sinners.

He kindly declined their offer and went on painting his message of free love and I applaud him for that.

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Lots of people are probably concerned about the environment when they hear that a guy has poured over 2,000 gallons of paint on this little mountain but…….I don’t know……..I’m not a scientist but it seems that…….the area is pretty much just dirt………and………uh…….more dirt….

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“Into the Wild” is a book about Christopher McCandless, a young boy who later adopted the moniker Alexander Supertramp. It’s a true story and is based on the tales of an over-enthusiastic young man with ideals of freedom. He comes from a rich family and decides that money can’t buy happiness. He burns his ID and his money and heads out into the wilderness. He abandons his car and carries only what he can on his back. He is a wanderer, an explorer and a true vagabond.

At some point on his journey to Alaska (his goal) he stops in a little place called Slab City in southern California and by Jove, we stumbled right across it by accident on our way to Salvation Mountain!!

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Slab City is “The Last Free Place on Earth”. There are no laws but there is no crime. It is the officially unofficial gathering place of all things free; people or families escaping the bend of life. They come here and they exist. They live in trailer homes and RVs and tents. They sell things to one another, books, food and art work. There is a church and a talent show and some of the homes are even strictly solar powered.

The area is about 3-5 blocks long and looks like it houses several hundred locals.

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We, however, would not be staying……not yet……but someday……someday we’ll be back and we’ll spend the night in Slab City. But tonight……tonight we had to get home because the world was calling and beckoning to us. It was Sunday and we had to work the following morning.

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We found this weird sign next to the salty river that leads into the Salton Sea. I don’t totally get it but I don’t totally NOT get it, either, which is sort of strange.

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There was no vehicle, so I guess it was okay to be there, taking pictures of their…..yard?….

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SO THERE YA HAVE IT LADIES AND GERMS!! From sand dunes to the salty dudes; Salton Sea to Salvation Mountain and from trailer park to trailer park, this was an official adventure but now it’s over.

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.

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