California – Bombay Beach, Salton Sea and Slab City

The second we landed in LAX around 11pm, we picked up our car rental and made our best attempts to get out of dodge asap. With the thoughts, of course, that there is no midnight traffic jams in LA. Thankfully, we were 90% correct. :)

So it was our first day in SoCal- and there we were, in the middle of nowhere. 187 miles from LAX, and far far from any 3G service. It was amazing. On our drive down the coast of Salton Sea, we stumbled into a fantastic little community called Bombay Beach, with the population varying between 60 and 200 depending on the season.

What is the Salton Sea you ask? Well, it is the largest lake in California, and was created by accident back in 1905 due to an engineering mistake by the railroad companies when the Colorado River runoff flooded into the basins of California- submerging the town of Salton over the course of 2 years. After a few decades, and the lake still there, realtors made vast attempts of turning the lake into a resort town.

Due to the loads of agricultural runoff being dumped into the lake, the lakes salt levels rose drastically- now at around 4%, and followed up by scores of dead fish washed up on the lake, and the tourists quickly retreating. All in all, the resort town was quite short lived and abandoned…. which makes for fantastic post-apocalyptic photo-ops. We’ll have to head back and get a few sunrise shots of this amazing area.

On the bright note- the Salton Sea played a big part in the stabilization of the once threatened population of the American White Pelican. (As you can see bunches of them in the distance below) :)

The minute we stepped outside it felt as though we had a heatwave of a smack in the head. Thankfully, it was 115 degrees of dryheat- which beats muggy weather anyday.

So you see all of that lovely sand? If you take a closer look, much of that is actually crushed up fishscales and bones the closer you are to the lake. Yeeesh. That called for me to run back to the car and grab some closed toe shoes. After that, we stumbled into the wonderfully amazing and airconditioned SKI INN. We had no idea what to expect when we walked in the door…

We entered the bar covered with $1 bills from visitors past, and greeted by a lovely gentleman by the name of Wendell. The man behind the bar, as well as the 2nd owner of the place- he chose Bombay Beach for retirement and loves it.

The lovely lady to Wendell’s left was as though she emerged from a cartoon- green flyswatter and all. She had fantastic aim too. And Brian, on the right, handed us a dollar to decorate and tape to the ceiling.

Oh, and not to mention, 115 dry heat makes for the most amazing $2.50 pint of fat tire. Served in a handled mason jar? AWESOME.

While we were outside, we ran into a few fellow travelers, Undergrads on break from UCLA- and they told us that Slab City- Salvation Mountain was only 20 miles down the road. Yes! Remember the movie ‘Into the Wild’ about Christopher McCandless, he ventured out to Slab City as well.

When we arrived, Leonard Knight- artist and dweller of Salvation Mountain wasn’t home, so we will have to venture inside next time.

Originally posted on Studio Finch our photography website, I couldn’t resist sharing on here as well.