Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Man's Land

Our weekend at Salvation Mountain was odd.

I want to tell you the whole story, but I'm sitting here with a million other things to do. But... let's see how far I get....

Justin and I were supposed to go up Friday with some friends to camp at the hot springs near Salvation Mountain. Which isn't a "campground" at all. It's just a spot in the middle of nowhere to set up your tent. There are no spots, and there are no other "campers" there. It's about 1 mile from Slab City and 2 miles from Niland - really feels like a no-mans-land.

But we weren't feeling well Friday so we told our friends that we would drive out Saturday morning instead.

So, our friends get to the hot springs around midnight on Friday. They are hanging around the campfire when around 2am this guy walks out of the dark bushes and sits down. His name is Grant. It was a little odd that he just came out of nowhere and sat down at their fire, but out there, you almost expect it. After a beer and a chat Grant leaves and says he is going to the hot springs.

The next morning a couple friends wake up to take a dip in the hot springs and they spot something in the water. There is an older gentleman in the water and they say to him, "Hey, there's a dead body in the water!" His reaction: "Well obviously you weren't invited to the party in south Vietnam, I've seen dead bodies and that ain't no dead body, that's a rubber body." - Seriously, he said that. Our friends can tell the story so much better.

Well, turns out it was a dead body. (sheriffs came, handled everything, questioned everyone, yadda yadda.) It was most likely a person that owned a car that was parked there when our friends showed up. And, it was not Grant, who had stopped by the campfire the night before. Although, Grant was IN the hot springs with this person, dead or alive the night before.

This really set an eerie tone. We got there early Saturday and joined our friends' spot at the springs. We spent the day at the Mountain with Leonard at Bobby D's - which almost burned down last week because of ARSON. WHAT IS GOING ON OUT IN NILAND!?

Saturday night there was a biker party at Slabs and we went to check it out for a bit. It was craziness as expected - huge bonfire, lots of guys yelling obscene things - not really my thing. We mainly stayed up near the stage to hear the music. Later, we went back to our camp and called it an early night because everyone was tired. Justin and I were in our tent getting settled when we hear a voice outside, "Hey, hey! You guys awake?"

Justin opens the tent door and there is a young guy on all fours, clutching sand in his hand. He says, "My name is Grant. I was here last night. I hear you guys are from LA, can I get a ride to LA tomorrow?"

"uh... uh..." I could clearly tell that Justin was tripping out on this guy. He told him that we probably didn't have room, and Grant said he would check in with us tomorrow... and off he disappeared back into the dark desert brush. That really, really creeped me out. I was just out there in the dark bush using the "restroom" - where was Grant, just hanging out out there?!

Ok, so Grant is probably innocent (the guy in the hot springs probably died on accident), but he is just one tripped out guy, and why was he trying to get to LA?

Niland is an interesting place people! I'm telling you, there is no place like it.

And I didn't even mention the mysterious-fast-moving -black-cloud in the sky that almost engulfed us... military testing grounds? ... I don't have time to get into that...

Salvation Mountain
Near Salvation Mountain

Bobby D's
Hanging out in the back of Bobby D's

Arson in Niland
Arson in Niland

Salvation Mountain
The Mountain

SP Salvation Mountain
...because I couldn't resist

Salvation Mountain
Fe, Beast & Cam

Salvation Mountain
in the glory of it all

The Range
events at the range


Shannalee said...

That self portrait is perfect! Love it.

tifanie said...

um... WOW. i just don't even know where or how to begin commenting, but i sure as heck hope that this "grant" character stays as FAR AWAY FROM LA as possible and... HOW, might i ask, did you get back to sleep after he popped by in the middle of the night? i think at that point, i would have been throwing as many of my things into my car as quickly as i could before hightailing it outta there. highly suspicious, that one. and... i must ask, did you get IN those hot springs after they removed the dead body? i mean, ???:@@**!!! i can't believe you even STAYED there! this whole story is just. so. surreal. very well told. amazing pictures. something i will be pondering in disbelief for a while. amazing adventure. wow.

Anonymous said...

WHAT?!?...and is it strange that this makes me want to go there all the more?
love you
happy travels

Sara said...

lovely pictures!!!

I do live in Cairo! AND I AM IN LOVE WITH THE CITYY!!

I love where I call home I really do! Browse through my blog, you'll get to know a few random things about how it's like to live here :)

Feel free to email me any questions you have! And please do consider it! It's a beautiful place

Amanda Mae said...

Tifanie, funny that you say that... my husband and I didn't sleep AT ALL until sunrise, then we slept for an hour! I COULD NOT FALL ASLEEP. I kept thinking I was hearing someone walk around outside... I tried to talk my husband into leaving and getting a hotel room for the night, but all our friends didn't seem bothered, so I felt like a chicken! (although, they didnt see grant like we did!!!)

مى said...

Omg your middle name is my first name hehe what are the odds?? And I'm all the way over here in Cairo, small world (of names) I guess :)

Do come here, it's beautiful. Just a little bit crowded, and you won't get anywhere on time. But apart from that, you'll be embraced as one of us! :)


Kim said...

What a weekend! I know it was difficult experiencing all of that black cloud energy, but you made it home alive with quite a story to tell!

I have to say- your photography illustrates this surreal space perfectly. I have no idea how you take such gorgeous photos, but I sure wish you'd share. You not only have an eye for poignant human portraits, but the focus and the colors are so interesting.

I would LOVE to know how you do it. Any thoughts on sharing a post about your methods? Maybe after Bangladesh? Pretty please? Good luck on your trip. I can't wait to read about it through your filter.

Lainey Seyler said...

that is CRAZY. i would have been right with you--get outta there. that is WAY suspicious.

bigBANG studio said...

WHOT THE #$@%&>?!?!?!?!

Woman, this is ca-ray-zay sh*t. I've had some uber-weird experiences in Niland/The Slabs/Salvation Mt, but nothing like this. Um, did you ever find out what the deal was? Murder? This is so insane I can't get over it. The best detail is the salty Nam vet who insisted it was a *ruber* body.

I can't get over this story. Ack.

Anonymous said...

okay, i'm revisiting this story and i have more questions, like WHAT is that enormous colorful mountain of art? what is the story about this place? i'm eerily fascinated. how did you find out about it? what drew you there? the art mountain right now is what's grabbing my attention most. i desperately want to know more about it for some reason. have you blogged elsewhere about this? i'll have to do a search. :::