I stood at the edge of the Salton Sea yesterday. Usually, I want to get in the water. This time, I wanted to get away from it. I had heard the sea was toxic, and the shoreline littered with the bones and skeletons of dead fish. It's all true. The setting is still beautiful, but beauty tinged with the pervasive feeling of death and decay. I felt sad for the birds that lined the shore, pecking at the dead carcasses of the fish. I walked across the beach made up of millions of fish bones. Crunch, crunch, grinding them back into dust.
Before I stopped off at this Godforsaken place, I went to Salvation Mountain. It is one of the strangest places I have been on my travels. In fact, the whole area feels like the apocalypse already happened there, a place where the people have been left behind to scratch and claw some kind of living out of the dusty surroundings. I felt like I stepped back in time to the 60's or 70's, when Jesus love was rampant and the societal norms cast off in favor of something more personal and mystical.
Tents and camper vans lined the plain surrounding the mountain. How this ended up in the middle of a desert, I'm not sure. But the work itself is genius. I could feel the desperate pleas from a man for Jesus to come, and imagine the thousands of hours this must have taken, laboring in the hot sun. It seemed to me a kind of penance, a life-long labour of love.
I followed the yellow brick road to the top, to the cross. Hot, in the desert sun. I had a few moments where I thought I might fall off the mountain. But, I figured even if I did fall, it wasn't that far. I'm still thinking about what I felt there and I'm having a hard time putting it into words.
The site is a photographers dream. Vibrant with color, nooks and crannies, hidden, secret rooms. All comprised of adobe clay. An organic, living, breathing organism that keeps growing. I noticed the blue angels. In one of my favorite "rooms", and then again on a glassed in ceiling of the other structure. These reminded me of my mom.
I am glad I took the time to go. I don't know if I will ever make it back. It's not a part of the country I want to see over and over again. Maybe never again. I don't know if it hearkens to a past that won't let go, or a future I don't want to think about. But the sense of decay was palpable. Abandoned buildings, graffitied and half torn down. Weary, tired people and no green. Just desert dust. I don't even know what you would do out in an area like that. I was grateful to get back to the mountains and greener spaces of La Quinta. I stopped in at the Oasis Date Gardens and had a date/cactus shake on the way home. Sooooo goooood!!!!
Today I'm going to go picking oranges and grapefruits and lemons. It seems so strange to be able to walk up and pick them ripe off a tree. Maybe visit the pool, who knows. Yesterday I did get hit on by an older guy at the pool, asking if I wanted him to bring me a drink because he was refreshing his. I said thank you, and politely declined. But, hey, I'll take my compliments where I can get them.