Kyle Kotajarvi

Day 15: Salvation Mountain

Today was one of the odder days I've ever experienced.  Not in a bad way, but in a way that's hard to express via words.  The plan for the day was to head to Salvation Mountain.  For those of you who don't know what that is, Salvation Mountain is a large-scale folk art piece in the desert east of the Salton Sea.  We left the house in Anaheim at about 9 to pick Zoe (Kassidy's model) at her boyfriend’s place in San Clemente.  Zoe was really nice, so it was really cool to have her along.  The drive out to Salvation Mountain was at least three hours long and it was in the middle of literal nowhere.  Not joking.  Look at a map.  

We took essentially the same route that we did to get to Joshua Tree yesterday, but instead of pulling off to the north, we keep heading east.  Eventually, we came upon the Salton Sea, which was a visual cue that we were getting close.  After navigating through a small town on the east banks of the Salton Sea, we followed a dirt road out towards the hippie town of Slab city, and there it was.  

The monument itself was really beautiful, but it also emitted a weird vibe; one that I really couldn't my finger on.  Looking at it straight on, one could see that there were biblical verses written all over it.  To the right of it’s face, there was a labyrinth of some sort.  It basically felt like a grown ups version of a child-like fort.  I honestly didn’t really understand what I was looking at, but I could appreciate it in a sense.  Clancy and I went and explored the concrete structures behind the monument, which were infinitely cooler than what we came to see. They were just the massive concrete circles that were covered in graffiti. In the distance, we could see Slab City.  A quasi-city made up of dominantly trailers.  

I think the coolest thing about the area was the fact that Christopher McCandless (the subject of Into The Wild) had spent some time there before leaving to Alaska.  He had even met the maker of Salvation Mountain, Leonard Knight.  

We left Salvation Mountain at about 4:20, and I really wanted to see the sunset at the Salton Sea, so we hurriedly drove towards the sea.  Along the way we passed through a border patrol checkpoint, which was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had.  A few miles past the station we stopped along the highway and I sprinted about a half-mile to get to the shore of the Salton Sea.  The sunset was unlike nothing I’ve ever seen before.  It was basically a mind-fuck.  My eyes couldn’t differentiate between the water and the sky.  Other than that, the Salton Sea was gross. It smelled god-awful and the shores were covered in the skeletons of dead fish. We ran back to the car and drove back to San Clemente.  We got Del Taco along the way back.