Although I am currently thousands of miles away in Thailand, I keep thinking of what an important transition it is in my life when summer turns to fall, and the desert, off limits due to the heat of summer for so many months, once again welcomes us to explore.
Though I frequently espouse the beauty and grandeur of the big-ticket destinations like J-Tree and Anza-Borrego, there are countless other unsung places that will welcome your thirst for adventure or solitude.
A more obscure region that will take a little more effort to access is Agua Caliente. Part of the San Diego County Parks system, it’s on the fringe of Anza-Borrego, out the Butterfield Stage Route along S2, and has hot springs to make the arduous journey worth your while. Stock up before the drive – it’s a desolate road. Spend the weekend, hike the trails, or tackle them on mountain bike, and be sure to soak in the pools. Discover the desolation and enjoy the millions of stars at night. Now you are initiated into desert life.
Oh, and they now have cabins if camping isn’t your thing.
The man who made Salvation Mountain died the other day. In a sense that means that a dream that we all share died. A dream of randomness; a dream of hope and spontaneity and freedom and purpose.
Did anyone even understand Salvation Mountain? Could you help yourself from loving it even if you didn’t?
It’s so perfect, out there on the edge of the epitome of weird, the desolation and disaster of the Salton Sea, the hot springs, the brutal sun, the unforgiving landscape, and the squatter colony they call Slab City.
Most of us give because we feel compelled. And we give a little. But to give relentlessly, and without making much sense at all? Now, that’s something beautiful. Maybe that’s art.
A few years back, we spent some time traveling around the Salton Sea and the Anza-Borrego Desert region. We stopped by Salvation Mountain and let our kid, our only child back then, run free. It was a place with quite a bit of magic. It was sort of legendary.
The man who made Salvation Mountain died the other day. His passing is iconic. His life has a certain relevance to us all, regardless of if we ever made it out to that lonely desert beyond Niland, California, or saw his appearance in Into the Wild. We all need folk art, we all need beauty, and we all need Salvation Mountain.
Anaya was always one to run off at that age. Here I am chasing her down as she makes her way to the top of the mountain.