Monday, March 11, 2013

Salvation Mountain, Niland, California

While filling up my tank with $4.15 a gallon gas I heard, “Are you one of those brave women, like me, who travel alone?”  I turned to see a bleach blond middle aged woman in a van. She said she had a bed in there and told me how she came about owning her version of a camper van. She had a friendly smile that featured fractured front teeth. I’m sure there is a horror story about how they cam missing but I didn’t inquire. “Are you staying out at the slabs?” she asked. No was my answer. “There’s music tonight!”  “Thanks for letting me know”, I replied.

Actually I was headed in that direction but didn’t want to tell her, some things are best kept to one’s self, especially if you are a brave woman traveling along.  My main purpose was to visit Salvation Mountain, a historic art and iconic site.

It was truly amazing…I had seen photos but I was not expecting the large size and the colors to be  so brilliant. Given the subject it seemed fitting that primary colors would be used.
I also didn’t expect the painted cars and well, every surface was painted.

It is build out of traditional adobe with straw, plus trees and tires to help as structures. The grotto section was unexpected and I actually liked that part the best.

The creator is Leonard Knight, who 1967 sitting in his van in his sisters driveway, began repeating the Sinner Prayer –“Jesus, I’m a sinner, please come upon my body and into my heart. “  It was on that Wednesday…at 10:30 in the morning…all by himself…at age 35…he accepted Jesus into his heart and he hasn’t been the same ever since..

It is 50 feet high and 150 wide and drenched in paint which makes it strong and keeps the wind and rain from eroding the mountain away. 
He estimates that he has put well over 1000,000 gallons of paint on his mountain.  

In 2011, at age 80, he was placed in a home because he was suffering from dementia but the mountain is still maintained by dedicated volunteers. If you are out that way it is a must see attraction, bring paint, they can always use more.

Just on up the hill was the famed Slab City, my next destination.
Just on up the hill was the famed Slab City, my next destination.  It was basically a very large campground/trailer park with no hookups and all free.  I drove around a little but I felt a little like a voyeur so I didn’t stay too long.

I loved this tree with the shoes.  I always wasn’t to toss a pair of shoes onto a telephone wire but I have never had the nerve.  I think I will now add it to my bucket list and get a couple of friends to join me in my tennis shoe tossing effort.

The name comes from the concrete slabs that were left from a abandoned military base.  At any given time there can be from 200-2,000 residents.  A lot of them are snowbirds that leave in the summer but now with the economy so bad it has become the last stop for many.

It has a Mad Max feel about it and truly a placed to go if you want to be unplugged. It isn’t the most scenic place but it is free.  I notice several examples of outsider art. 

This was the sign as I was leaving. You have to have a sense of humor to live in desert with no utilities.





1 comment:

Potomac Valley Nature Writing Group Reading List said...

Really amazing. Thanks for sharing this experience. Wish I had been along! What do the slab city folks do for water/toilets? Does everything get packed in/out?