Out To the Desert

February 7th – February 10th, 2019

Thursday Feb 7th  – We left Desert Hot Springs and drove about an hour and a half to Nilan near the Salton Sea. It didn’t take us long to settle into Bashford’s Mineral Spa RV. 

We met up with Randy and Becky and their friends for a little happy hour. Later we headed out to the Ski Inn in Bombay Beach for dinner. I thought it was cool that at one time, Anthony Bourdain had stopped in here for a patty melt and a beer.

Friday Feb 8th – JP had a chance to go four wheeling with Randy and his buddies. They took Jeeps out climbing and JP had a great time and saw some desert scenery. 

Sat Feb 9th – This morning was a free breakfast for all!  Eggs, hash browns, pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit, coffee, OJ and tomato juice. All free because a fella here collects all the bottles and cans for recycling, cashes them in and uses the money to put on a great morning meal! You can chip in 2.00 and turn your juice into either a Screwdriver or a Bloody Mary. After a hearty breakfast Randy and Becky took us out to Salvation Mountain about 1/2 hour away. 

Leonard Knight had a calling from God to create the really unusual and odd structure known as Salvation Mountain. He believed that “Love is universal, love God, love one another, and just keep it simple.” In 2000 it was named a National Treasure in the Congressional Record of the US. Mr. Knight passed away in 2014 but his vision lives on.

Salvation Mountain is next to “slab city” where folks have made their life off the grid in odd and creative spaces. The diversity is curious indeed! There were super fancy motorhomes, lean-tos, and imaginative versions of homes all sitting on the abandoned WW II Marine Corp barracks of Camp Dunlap. Slab City is considered “the last free place in America”It costs nothing to stay there, and is totally off the grid. 

Next stop was East Jesus. It’s considered an “experimental, inhabitable, extensive artwork in progress.” It was filled with all kinds of unusual and strange recycled art. It was interesting to see lifestyles so completely different from ours. It’s said to be the last hippie haven in America.

We went and took a gander at the saltwater shores of the Salton Sea. It was once destined to be a resort area with fishing, boating and water skiing. Resorts were in the works and it was to be a prime vacation destination. Unfortunately the inlet that allowed the Colorado River to flow into the lake was repaired and it became landlocked. The waters of the Salton Sea aren’t very appealing (or safe) these days and long gone are the hopes for this area to be a thriving area for tourists.

Randy showed us an cool house where they’d once been for a party. It was so unusual! The stone formations aren’t actually stone – they’re foam made to look like stone. Inside the window of sparkling disco type orbs, the stacked stones create couches. The front of the house is all aluminum.  Totally original and super cool!

And then. ..YES !  The Drive In is coming back! Not like we remember it but so so clever! The movie screen is the side of a big truck and you don’t need a ride because the vehicles are provided. Someone had an amazing idea! They’re still working on it but when it’s done it’ll be an experience!

We hit Ski Inn for lunch and rested up for the Party put on at camp by the Canadians. They do it up right! Open bar for beer and wine, or BYO hard liquor beverage, snacks, 2 bands and some entertainment by park residents. Even though it was hard to talk we met some really nice people. It seems like a close knit community of snow birds.

Sun Feb 10th – Today was a day of R&R. We hit the mineral spa tub and the pool hot tub, and kicked it for the afternoon. In the evening we went for a walk with Randy  and Pepper his dog and got another view of Chocolate Mountain.

We met Randy and Becky while we were all camped at Coquille RV Park in Bandon. JP and Randy did some fishing together and we all hit Billy’s for supper one night. They invited us to come down to Nilan for a visit and I’m glad we did. We had a great stay in a most unusual place in the desert.











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