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Salton Sea, 10.19

Salton Sea, 10.19

Just sat down to write this and I see that I’m well overdue for a post. I’ve got a couple others in the works, just need to put them together.

Beth and I ventured out to the Salton Sea area yesterday. I’ve driven by the Salton Sea along the highway, and have spent time out at Truckhaven and in the Anza Borrego area, but had never really wandered around the lake. It had been years since Beth had been out there so we were looking forward to exploring it together.

Leaving after work on Friday, we had dinner in Palm Springs and wandered a little bit, just enough to want to go back for a weekend. I rose early Saturday morning and did a digital painting for my OverlandArt Instagram project and then we had breakfast at the hotel before beginning our trip further south. So, off we went.

We made a quick stop at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area Visitors Center. $7 to park and a less than helpful state park employee matched the bouquet coming off the lake. But the ranger (?) taking money at the gate was at least glad to see us.

Onward! And around! And over…

The highway on the east side of the lake is closed due to some thermal activity in the area. There is no official detour short of going the other way around the lake. There is however a lacing of dirt roads in the area and we were able to navigate a long dogleg around the closed area and made our way to our first destination.

The “Lodestar” sculpture by Randy Polumbo, currently located in Bombay Beach, near Niland, CA, Earth.

There’s sculpture scattered around Niland, these two stood out to me, and reminded me of one of my influential college professors.

Salvation Mountain began as one man’s singular mission to spread the word that God Is Love. The installation is visited by travelers and tourists from around the world and maintained by volunteers who carry Leonard Knight’s mission on. We wandered around and on the mountain both together and on our own little routes.


Other than the obvious God is Love message, two things really stood out to me about this:

  1. As a lifetime creative I find myself exploring different mediums, processes and subjects. Whatever medium I’m working in now will be different in 6-12 months (short attention span perhaps). I’ll always circle back to favorites, but there’s always something new to experiment with. Knight’s singular work on the mountain is humbling.

  2. How temporary it is. Piled hay bales, timber and tires stacked pell-mell, mired together with mud and coated with paint. Have to let that sink in a bit.

Complete with a maquette of the mountain.

From Salvation Mountain we drove through Slab City and then onto East Jesus. Never heard of them? Put your Google-fu to work. Interesting places for a lot of reasons…

The highlight of East Jesus is the art installation/encampment. Definitely an interesting place to visit conceptually and visually it is a bit post-apocalyptic. Maybe nihilistic is a better word.

I enjoy taking in desert oddities and try to go see them when I have the opportunity. Normally I come away with a feeling of inspiration or whimsy, but overall the experience here was a bit darker.

That said, there was still whimsy to be found.

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch

Sidebar - if you’re looking for desert whimsy, I have a favorite recommendation - Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, located outside of Victorville.

From there we finished our drive up the west side of the Salton Sea and drove through some of the “neighborhoods”. Then it was time to make miles, so we put on a new season of the Business Wars podcast (great listening) and made our way onto the Morongo Casino for fuel for us and the truck and then homeward bound.

Beth and I looking a little squinty and sun-kissed at the Salton Sea.

Beth and I looking a little squinty and sun-kissed at the Salton Sea.

CO Vacationmoon, Part Two - 200LCDC, 07.19

CO Vacationmoon, Part Two - 200LCDC, 07.19