The Salton Sea

Tara took off this week for Canada so I took a day and drove from Los Angeles down to the end of the Salton Sea to have another look at Salvation Mountain and Slab City — places I first visited a few years ago.

It’s an incredibly fascinating place and the uneasy state the area can put you in is all part of its strange appeal. Here’s how the day went:

Where To Eat On Your Way To The Salton Sea

I sort of forgot to eat all day and it came back to bite me in the ass that night with massive headaches. Lucky thing for next time that I now know all the spots to eat along the way including this gem in Yacaipa.

When you hit Yacaipa make sure to stop at St. George Motel for lunch. They make great pizza, spag and sand.

When you hit Yacaipa make sure to stop at St. George Motel for lunch. They make great pizza, spag and sand.

Also when passing through El Monte, make sure you stop at the California Snack Foods outlet store and get a man-sized bag of super-salty (the way I love it) cheese popcorn for eight dollars.

Going Bananas

The next major stop was the recently opened International Banana Museum on the North Shore of the Salton Sea. For a measly two bucks you get to see ten billion banana collectables and if you want, have museum curator Fred make you a fresh banana milkshake.

Meet Fred Garbutt, owner of the International Banana Museum on the North Shore of the Salton Sea.

Meet Fred Garbutt, owner of the International Banana Museum on the North Shore of the Salton Sea.

And this is his car, official banana bug of the International Banana Museum.

And this is his car, official banana bug of the International Banana Museum.

Just a sample of the many display cases of small banana collectables.

Just a sample of the many display cases of small banana collectables.

Two of thousands of banana items at the International Banana Museum.

Two of thousands of banana items at the International Banana Museum.

Methinks this monkey likes bananas too much.

Methinks this monkey likes bananas too much.

North Shore

The Salton Sea has a crazy boom-bust history. As the result, all the towns (maybe better described as settlements) are rundown, half-abandoned ghost towns. It’s why it’s a little scary and why it’s also a great place to shoot.

One of many signs at abandoned stores along the Salton Sea. The palm tree in the background is a cell tower.

One of many signs at abandoned stores along the Salton Sea. The palm tree in the background is a cell tower.

An abandoned business helpfully dates itself for future historians.

An abandoned business helpfully dates itself for future historians.

Old signs for long gone stores on the Salton Sea.

Old signs for long gone stores on the Salton Sea.

The North Shore Coffee Club hasn't met in a while.

The North Shore Coffee Club hasn’t met in a while.

Well, son, the funny thing about regret is that it's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, will you be sure and tell her SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!

Well, son, the funny thing about regret is that it’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven’t done. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, will you be sure and tell her SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!

Salvation Mountain

The sun was quickly fading so I only had time for a few pictures from the front of Salvation Mountain and didn’t go “inside” it as you can. It’s an amazing place and if these shots whet your appetite I recommend you go visit very soon. The creator, Leonard Knight, is now in a home and by the sounds of it no one as figured out how to handle the upkeep. As the result, in just the few years since I last visited, parts of the site are noticeably deteriorating.

Salvation Mountain at sunset.

Salvation Mountain at sunset.

Keep on truckin' with God.

Keep on truckin’ with God.

Bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible.

Bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible bible.

Back of the Bible truck.

Back of the Bible truck.

The bible truck at Salvation Mountain.

The bible truck at Salvation Mountain.

Slab City

Just behind Salvation Mountain is an off-the-grid settlement called Slab City. Slab City lives in the middle of a venn diagram between Burning Man and The Postman. I don’t mean that negatively. It’s an weird mix of artists, shady characters, hippies and probably a quiet outlaw or two. I was invited to an evening concert but didn’t have the time. I bet that would have been interesting to say the least.

Blue birds welcome you to Slab City.

Blue birds welcome you to Slab City.

All of these old concrete tubes on the road into Slab City are covered in art and graffiti.

All of these old concrete tubes on the road into Slab City are covered in art and graffiti.

Remants of the old military base where Slab City now exists. The sign in the background reads "if vehicle is here please stay away." It is the city's bathing hole.

Remants of the old military base where Slab City now exists. The sign in the background reads “if vehicle is here please stay away.” It is the city’s bathing hole.

Sandi in front of her bus-turned-studio with the souvenir I bought from her.

Sandi in front of her bus-turned-studio with the souvenir I bought from her.

Live Music at sunset at the Range in Slab City.

Live Music at sunset at the Range in Slab City.

One of the outdoor venues in Slab City.

One of the outdoor venues in Slab City.

The Slab City Community Bulletin Board at the cities (only) "major" intersection.

The Slab City community bulletin board.

Trailer church in Slab City.

Trailer church in Slab City.

A three-hour tour, a three-hour tour...

A three-hour tour, a three-hour tour…

Putting dibs on a Slab City lot.

Putting dibs on a Slab City lot.

North Shore After Dark

Some shots from the return trip after sundown.

Fence pixelboard in Niland, CA just outside Slab City.

Fence pixelboard in Niland, CA just outside Slab City.

Twilight drinking in front of the laundromat in Niland.

Twilight drinking in front of the laundromat in Niland.

I stopped at all the abandoned stores along Highway 111 on my way back.

I stopped at all the abandoned stores along Highway 111 on my way back.

Fancy Corvina Estates.

Fancy Corvina Estates.

I had a scary little run in with someone just after taking this photo. Never a dull moment at the Salton Sea.

I had a scary little run in with someone just after taking this photo. Never a dull moment at the Salton Sea.