Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Salton Sea Revisited

After exploring East Jesus for a while, we headed over to the Salton Sea to hang out and wait for the sunset.  The birds were amazing again, with huge flocks rising from the water and circling in columns hundreds of feet high.  The sunset was one of the most unusual and beautiful I have ever seen. We also visited the once-booming resort town of Bombay Beach, which is now just a desolate ruin of a place.  Some cool buildings to photograph, though!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Out in East Jesus (aka Slab City, California)

The Salton Sea area is one of extremes--sublime beauty, scenery and life, but also decay, poverty and desolation.  Having spent a day there a few weeks ago, we just had to go back, not knowing when we might be in this area again.  I showed some pictures last time of Salvation Mountain, the several-hundred-foot-high hill of painted devotion to a god of love.  The creator of that monument, Leonard Knight, lived in Slab City just a few miles up the road.  A marine base during WWII, now it is the home of some 2,000+ snowbirds, squatters, dropouts and artists living off the grid. The Salton Sea state park brochure talks about visiting Salvation Mountain, and as an aside says you can continue on to visit Slab City "if you dare"!  It is essentially a huge homeless encampment with an assortment of the most dilapidated RV's, shacks and improvised housing I've seen anywhere (anywhere in the U.S. anyway).

Deep inside Slab City is East Jesus, which was described to me by a friend as "basically a junk yard inside a huge homeless camp".  To the creators of East Jesus, it is a place where art can flourish and where the guiding principal is to reuse what others call garbage and make it an artistic expression. So we dared to drive through Slab City and visit East Jesus.  We got a short tour and enjoyed it all very much.  Pictures describe it best:

This is a genuine Manhattan city bus, half-buried in the desert sand and painted in one night by a woman who dropped in to East Jesus for a short stay.

The title of this was something like "Trophy Wife with an Incredible Rack"

Finally, the memorial to the founder of East Jesus, Charles Russell, who died of a heart attack in Slab City in 2011.  Many people continue to develop and support East Jesus today and have set up a foundation to purchase the land under East Jesus from the state of California.  Negotiations are underway.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Joshua Tree (revisited)

In our 3 years of travel, we have not often visited the same place twice.  San Diego and Palm Springs were two big exceptions and another is Joshua Tree National Park.  Last February, we spent a week camping in the park and loved it.  While in Palm Springs, we decided to take a day trip there just to experience the place again and (now that I am more serious about photography) and take some pictures.  We targeted the setting crescent moon as a great night to shoot and spent all day hiking and exploring.

We started out hiking to the Lost Horse mine, closed down in the 30's when the park was created. This 4-mile round trip brought us through some rugged desert with great views.  The mine itself was fenced off for safety reasons, but still looked cool.

After the mine hike, we ate our lunch and did a short walk to an old adobe dwelling that once housed the mine owners.  Only the walls still stand but they seem to blend with the colorful rocks all around them.

It was getting to be late afternoon, so we headed over to another area of the park, scouting for a place to watch and photograph the sunset with crescent moon.  Kind of silly, because Joshua Tree NP is a place where you could literally be air-dropped anywhere and it would be a scenic spot for pictures because of the rock formations and Joshua trees everywhere.  We landed at Hidden Valley, where the cattle rustlers of old used to hide their stolen goods.

Finally, the sunset with crescent moon and Venus did NOT disappoint!

To see all the Joshua Tree photos, go HERE

Monday, January 19, 2015

Blythe Bluegrass Festival

For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, you might remember that we went to the Blythe bluegrass festival last year and enjoyed it.  We are big bluegrass fans and the festivals are usually a wonderful experience.  The music is happy and technically interesting, the crowds are mellow and the setting is usually beautiful.  We skipped the tour of Blythe this year, figuring we had seen all the high points last year (the cotton processing plant, the hay processing plant and the cotton farm). I had fun taking pictures and found a beautiful spot out in the fields north of Blythe where I caught some great sunset shots.  Here are some highlights:

Our lunch stop both to and from Blythe was Desert Center, CA.  It has seen better times.
The Desert Center gas emporium, now deserted and a place for RVs and semi trucks to stop and eat lunch

Blythe is right on the Colorado River and has immense irrigation water supplies.  It is where the desert  meets agribusiness.

One of many old relics of the days when the main highway from L.A. to Phoenix went through the center of town.

Amateur picking goes on pretty much all night in makeshift shelters around the campground...
... or just by the wood stove between the RV's.
View of the sea of RV's at dawn (from our roof)

Finally some shots of two amazing sunsets we saw while at Blythe.  The sky is so big and the setting sun is unimpeded by the marine layer that often makes the coastal sunsets a disappointment.  The reflecting pool below is actually the major irrigation canal that is fed by the Colorado River and was mirror-still the night I shot the sunset there.