So with our gear packed up, we headed to the train station in Mountain View, California and awaited the train to San Francisco to fly to what we thought was Burbank, California.
All photos of me taken by Gritphilm
Once we got up to Millbrae we had a series of jumps between trains and bart rail lines. As the coordinator of this trip I was constantly on the phone making sure everyone was still where they were supposed to be.
Once we got through security, which was surprisingly no big deal considering how much gear we had, we got to our gate and chilled out. While standing there this chinese child kept insisting on showing me how the planes crash, and how they land in water. He'd obviously just heard about the crash in the Hudson river so he would re-enact the story with his toy planes. I eventually stopped engaging him and got sarcastically rude with him, and at this point his father who had been ignoring him the whole time asked if we would watch all of his things while they went to the restroom. Everything as in laptop, bags, cell phone, everything! Crazy...
Grit thought I was going to eat the kid at some point.
So we make it on the plane, definitely not your common pair of Bay Area to L.A. plane commuters. No one wanted to sit near us on the sold out flight...which was fine with me. The flight was actually pretty turbulent but my head was still spinning with what was about to go down for the weekend so I zoned out.
So here's where it all goes wrong! We land, I call my friend Dennis in the Burbank area to organize hooking up before we have to drive to LAX to pick up Byron. First port of call is picking up the rental car. A mini van we named the "white whale". The problem was I booked flights and vehicle rental in Burbank. WE LANDED IN LAX!!! There had been a web glitch from my booking and what flight we actually got, so now we're on the wrong side of Los Angeles at rush hours peak time. There was no point in driving to Burbank area because by the time we got there it'd be too late to turn around and come back to pick up Byron at LAX. So we went to the Enterprise office and had them transfer our rental agreement to that site.
The guy was convinced we were going to shoot a porno. Two weird looking white guys with camera gear asking for the largest mini van he has, and "could we leave the rear row of seats behind." It was funny, but no where near the truth of a desert rat journey into the Niland area.
So we drive around El Segundo and a few other areas near to LAX and eventually find a restaurant to eat and kill time at. It was called Pitfire, the food was excellent and cheap. Yet again I'm on the phone trying to connect everyone since the landing screw up.
We eventually head back to LAX to pick up Byron who was flying in from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From there we were going to head out to the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills as invited guests to see Dennis play drums with Gilby Clarke from Guns N' Roses. Opening act was Dizzy Reed's new band, the ex-keyboardist of Guns N' Roses. Here's Grit in the LAX multi-story parking garage. That monster hoodie got looks everywhere we went. He can swap the ears for horns at any point...wicked!
Eventually getting to the club, I hung with friends and got ready to take pictures of Gilby Clarke with Muddy and Dennis filling out his band.
After the night was over Dennis donated a bunch of his blankets and pillows to us, this was per a phone call request I'd made earlier. We left the show at 1:30am and started driving out towards the desert. We finally stopped around 4 am at some WalMart parking lot to sleep in the van for a few hours. This always works good because most Walmarts are open 24 hours so bathrooms are readily available, food is there, and Sam Walton instituted a policy that road travelers are always allowed to loiter their parking lots over night...that's why you always see so many RV parked at Walmart.
A few hours later we arrived at the Salton Sea, North Short Yacht Club. An abandoned building from the 70s era. The whole region is amazing to absorb and try to understand. That at one point there were a few thousand people living there, with yachts, family homes, businesses, and more. Now it's abandoned dilapidated structures surrounded by dead fish bones...Here's me in the location
It was really smelly, filled with pigeon droppings and remains...slowly being reclaimed by the environment.
Knowing we were on a strict schedule we went to town shooting right away and basically explored every inch of the remains. Byron actually grappled the outside walls to go into the second story for which the stairs had been removed inside.
Knowing that I'd just come off an extreme prescription of antibiotics and my allergies being what they were made me just a bit nervous. The label on my pill bottle reads "avoid contact with potential for infection..." And here I am standing around inches of death and decay and rust. Lovely!
This pipe shot came out great though, my results at the end of this post!
After a few hours at the yacht club we headed on to Salvation Mountain. If you don't know the story of Salvation Mountain you can read more about it here. Built by Leonard Knight as a tribute to a simple message, "God is Love". His commitment to this message for years has resulted in his mountain being the only other national artistic monument in America second to Mount Rushmore. It blew my mind...if you can, go there! The positive vibes and energy that pour through you are overwhelming.
I compare it to Dr. Seuss visually, but the message is clearly biblical in a light, fun, and positive way. I would've loved to have seen this place as a child. After absorbing the trip for a week I realize now that if God had left crayons out in the sun, then it was to become Salvation Mountain.
The mountain is made out of hay bails, mud, branches, found items, and paint. This was a microwave door window built into the mountain.
Now I don't fully understand Leonard Knight's history before he decided to head out into the desert and build an iconic site messaging a positive position for "God's love". However, with over one hundred visitors per day at times, the man has created something similar to Field of Dreams. "If you build it, they will come". Upon our arrival he walked away from the crowds, came straight up to our white whale and said "Welcome, I'm so glad you could come. Would you like me to show you around?" His spirit, smile, and just being in his presence felt so uplifting I felt I could have faced a mountain of my own. If America has a true ambassador of peace and positivity it is Leonard Knight.
Once there we saw the mountain, then wandered the desert for hours! That's me with Byron out in the desert sun with my hoodie covering my skin so I don't have another bad allergic reaction to sunlight. The new meds make me really sick with too much exposure to sunlight. Sweating is better then getting sick any day of the week.
After this we drove out of Salvation Mountain and the neighboring hippie commune called Slab City. Collectively as a group we felt sad to leave, it might be the surrounds of lead paint, or actually something about the place...but I felt happier then I had in a while being there. Making this gentle pilgrimage with friends to explore and discover something extraordinary truthfully healed parts of me I'd kept open and sore.
Special thanks to Gritphilm, Byron B., Dennis Morehouse for accompanying me on another one of my whacky road trip ideas.
Here are some of my shots from the trip. Click to see a larger version!
As always there are many more in my flickr, feel free to check them out and comment.
If you made it this for...wow, you're a trooper! :O)