This weekend my journey as a photographer took me someplace totally new and quite amazing. I went back and forth and whether I was going to go or not. I’m not a super social person and the idea of going someplace like this without anyone I actually knew made my anxiety level a little high! I asked my husband if I should go (thinking he would give me an out) and he said, “Why not, what do you have to lose?” He was right. I can’t grow as a photographer if I don’t take risks and get out of my little bubble of security. The morning we were supposed to head out, it was raining and a bunch of people ended up backing out. I had it set in my mind that this was something I needed to do, so off I went.
I met up with some other photographers at one of our trolley stations so that we could carpool out there since it was over 120 miles away. I decided to drive since I felt like I needed to have control over at least something. I met the two ladies that were going in my car and they were both just so wonderful!! So where did we go? Well, the first stop on this little adventure was Salvation Mountain. I am not a religious person. I am a more of a spiritual person. For me, this was less about the message of the mountain and more about the dream that Leonard Knight had when he built this place. Unfortunately he now resides in a convalescent home here in San Diego, but his dream stays alive through volunteers and the many visitors that his mountain gets. It was such an amazing place. We were able to climb this huge mountain that was made of hay, clay, and paint. There were rooms built into the mountain out of branches and paint and windows. It really was an amazing place.
Salvation Mountain. Leonard Knight’s masterpiece.
Inside one of the “rooms” in the mountain. It was awesome how it almost felt alive in there. All the colors and textures were so beautiful.
The “belly of the beast” was so awesome. Amazing that all of this came out of the mind of one man.
This was the truck that Leonard called home for so many years. No electricity. No water. No plumbing.
The next stop on our little adventure was “the slabs.” Slab City was strange, but in a good way. It is what is left of Marine barracks from WWII and has become the home of hundreds of squatters, boondockers, and people who want to live a simple life off the grid. My first impression was that it looked like an RV camp. The more we drove around, I noticed how dirty it was. Because there is no sort of trash service out there, it looks like a lot of people just toss their trash out the door. I learned that Slab City has it’s own internet cafe, church, library, night club, exclusive social club, skate park, snack bar, and alien crash site. Most of these places are run by generators and solar panels. The other thing I learned about this place is that there are no laws. It seems like everyone helps each other out and they all seem to be pretty happy people. I did notice a lot of drug usage and I’m sure it is one of the reasons that has driven people to live in the slabs. Not necessarily the access to drugs, but because of the poverty that drug use can lead to. There is no monetary cost to live at the slabs. Even with the drugs and alcohol, there was just something about this place that made you want to stay. I think if I were in a situation without kids and a family, I could see myself spending time out there (minus the drugs and alcohol. yuck).
One of the performers at “The Range.” They have live music here every Saturday night. When we were here, they were doing their annual talent show. I just have to say, this guy was an amazing musician. A very drunk, but amazing musician. He has only been at the slabs a short time, but now calls it home.
One of the seating options at The Range.
I think I’ll be bringing my own chair to sit in next year!!
One of the “slabbers”
A group of people that call the slabs home. They come from different places, and ended up at Slab City for different reasons, but they all call it home now.
Part of Slab City is another little community called East Jesus. This is a little community of artists. Because this is a family friendly blog, I can’t show many pictures of the artwork, but I will say that the people here are just great. If you find yourself at Slab City, you have to check this place out!!
They are currently working on creating a fully sustainable garden and vineyard. The hope is that the only thing they would have to worry about is water. They have plans on creating a huge water tank that will hopefully take care of them during the 120 degree summer heat.
One of the pieces of art.
After East Jesus, we raced out to Bombay Beach to catch the sunset. It was such a beautiful depressing place. This place used to be a resort back in days but it’s like it just got sucked up in the mud. Whats left are the ruins of old homes and cars and businesses. It’s like after it got sucked up into the mud, the town moved back a few 100 feet and started over again, but was never really able to make anything of it self. I really want to go back again when there is more light and get some photos of the actual town and the remains of the old town.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading!! I know I usually don’t write about my photos and I just like to let them speak for them selves, but I felt like I had something to say about this little adventure. I absolutely can’t wait until next year so I can do it again!