Thursday, December 8, 2011

Road Trippin' Blues

It was time for a road trip. I have decided that I have not stayed true to the mission statement of the blog, or the mission of statement of what I wanted to do with my time while in between jobs. I wanted to travel, I wanted to try new things, I wanted to do the things that I said I wanted to do but didn't have the time to do before because I was working so hard.

I have decided that I had had enough with the wallowing (and if you read yesterday blog, I think you'll agree), it is time to get out there and see the sights. Of course, it certainly helped that this morning I was greeted by bright blue skies and somewhat warmer temperatures, at least they were above 50º. I know that may seem high to some, especially to my family in Colorado, but when you're used to 110º, anything below 55º is downright chilly. And also, I found my wool sweaters. Tucked away in the corner of the closet, gathering dust.

On the spur of the moment, I decided to hit the highway and head out to Niland, CA. And it really was spur of the moment, too. Marlowe and I are sitting in our car in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks, I had just got my coffee, and I was thinking to myself, I don't want to go back home. I didn't want to be indoors. I had just spent the last 24 hours inside feeling sorry for myself. I didn't want to go through another day like that. I want to feel the sunshine, I want to go somewhere, anywhere.

Where could I go that was an easy drive and some place that was on my "to go to" list? Then I remembered Niland and Salvation Mountain. I have only seen pictures and have not been there before so this was the perfect destination.

I made up my mind in the split second between getting my coffee and putting it away in the cup holder. I pulled forward into a parking spot and grabbed my phone. I had no idea where Salvation Mountain was. I did have my Thomas Guide road map in the car, but instead I looked it up on my phone. Easy-peasy, directions downloaded and away we went. Marlowe has always liked traveling, so I knew he'd be game for an adventure. I popped in a Muddy Waters Road Trippin' Blues CD and hit the freeway.

The directions I downloaded were easy to follow and took me along roads that, even though I have lived down here for almost nine years, I have never taken. I actually drove farther East on I-10 than I have ever done before! One of my goals achieved! We drove passed the Salton Sea--I have only seen it from the air while flying over on the way to someplace else, usually Colorado. We drove along washes named for Sand, Cattail, and Z. I was sure the rest of the alphabet was represented elsewhere.

When we came to Niland, I was told to turn left on Main street. I found First Street, Second, Third, and Fourth, and then there was no more town. I was out in the fields again. I turned around. Coming back into town, I saw Fourth Street, Third, Second, a street with no sign, and then First. No Main Street. Given the odds that there are only five streets in the town and one of them does not have a sign, I took the chance that the street with no name was Main Street and turned East. A couple blocks down I was rewarded with a sign that did indeed say Main Street. I knew I was on the right track.

Truth be told, I knew I could find my destination no matter what street I took. As I was driving out of town, I could see the bright colors of what I suspected was Salvation Mountain from the highway. I would be able to find my way there. Just follow the colors.

About three miles out of town on a twisting and hilly road, and after slowing down to the recommended 35mph after the first bump in the rough road that sent Marlowe and me bouncing out of our seats, we came upon the Mountain.

We were the only souls there for about ten minutes. Off in the distance we could hear an water drill thump, thump, thumping and that unsettled Marlowe at first. But after a quick exploratory walk (read, he relieved himself) he was back to his exploratory normal self.

Salvation Mountain is an iconic folk art destination. After fortifying a refuse site with adobe, concrete, straw and 15 to 20 coats of paint, Salvation Mountain has transformed the desert landscape. After walking around for a half hour or so, I began to feel interrupted by the other groups of people there. I wanted the silence of discovery. I wanted that feeling of isolation that being in the desert brings. I wanted more time to just sit and watch the play of of light and shadows. I wanted to stay longer and explore the colors and the juxtaposing textures and designs. There is something freeing in the way the bright colors contrasted against the clear blue arid sky and the washed out desert sand.

I wanted to stay longer but the destination was not the true reason for the day, it was more about the journey. Getting outside, expanding the parameters of what is possible. I had to prove to myself that I need not stay inside and stare at the walls of my house. I had to show myself that spur of the moment adventures are doable-- and worthwhile.

And that's what road trips are for-- to get out there, try new things, see new sights, see things from a new vantage point.

To see things in a new way.

© pranaknits


  1. Salvation Mountain is truly an amazing, magical place. Glad you took the time. Did you get to meet Leonard? Love the photos BTW.

  2. Thank you! I took a lot of photos so it was hard to choose which ones to feature. I did not get to meet Leonard. But I plan on taking my nephew there over the Holiday break and maybe I'll get a chance to do so then.

    You are right. It is a magical place. I am looking forward to going back.