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.|
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