Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day Trip: Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain / Bombay Beach

Hi! If you're reading this I hope you're well! A few days ago Justin and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Niland, CA to see Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain and the town surrounding it. After seeing photos of this fascinating mountain on social media, we wanted to take advantage of the short time we have together and go on a small road trip/day trip to take a look at this place for ourselves. Niland is around three hours east from us (six hours both ways) so the drive wasn't bad at all! (I can't really say that because this kind boy decided to take the wheel both ways...) With some snacks and a good playlist, we started our journey to the middle of the desert. After passing by endless hills of windmills, miles of train tracks, and an interesting/strange town by the name of Slab City, we spotted an explosion of color in the middle of the desert. 

The history behind Leonard's journey to build this mountain is actually incredibly fascinating and beautiful. Researching about his backstory before visiting Niland made the experience so much more meaningful. After digging through the internet, I ended up finding the most information about the mountain right (here). I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend giving this article a read about Leonard's life and journey before continuing on with this blog post or visiting here yourself. (Please please please!) I really wish I made this trip a few years back to have been able to have the pleasure to meet Leonard myself. Mr. Knight passed away in 2014, and even if he is no longer physically present, his spirit, passion, and love for Christ still remains in this mountain. I admire Leonard's way of showing his love for Jesus Christ and how passionately he wanted to share that message with the people around him. God uses us all in different and unique ways, and Leonard is an incredible example of the Lord using a once broken and lost man, to transform him into a passion filled artist that lived his life to proclaim the message of the gospel through his art work. 

Walking around, we spotted some people painting on bare parts of the interior, continuously expanding the mountain and preserving damaged areas. The mountain needs touching up here and there to stay alive!

A photograph of Leonard doing his daily painting years back.

After spending sometime adventuring around, we decided to see what else Niland had to offer. After doing a quick Yelp search, we decided to swing by Bombay Beach. Not going to lie, this area was a bit eerie. Bombay Beach is located on the Salton Sea and is famous for it's post-apocalyptic feel, dead fish/bird carcasses, and stench. (Seriously, the stench is intense.) It's hard to believe that in the 1950's/60's this beach was filled with travelers on vacation, swimming and vacationing away, because now it's a complete wasteland. Walking around, we had to be careful not to crunch on dried up fish carcasses or anything else sticking out of the sand that we couldn't identify. While driving up to this beach, we saw that there were residents living in this area, many residing in trailers and next to ruins. It's known that around 250 people still live on the beach, having to drive around 40 miles just to grab groceries! Simply, this place is in ruins. Deteriorating homes and liter everywhere, plus a whole lot of mystery. A super interesting experience.

A Slab City local and his son "fishing" in the dead water.

Before heading home, I wanted to stop by Cactus Mart in the Joshua Tree area. It was a 10 mile detour from our route back home so we saw no harm in stoping by. I had my first visit to the Cactus Mart this past summer with my friend Grace. The owners are incredibly helpful and friendly. We purchased two ripe succulents, one each for our mothers. Always a great souvenir to take home from the desert. 

Thanks for reading and viewing- this was quite a long one.
Have a great New Years, here's to more experiences in 2016. 

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