Activated in 1942, Camp Dunlap — just 85 miles southeast of Palm Springs — was a Marine Corps training facility during World War II. When the base was subsequently decommissioned, the land was returned to Imperial County, California, and only concrete slabs remained. Today it’s known as Slab City — a strange haven for squatters and off-the grid living. It’s also home to two unconventional art installations: Slab City’s Salvation Mountain and East Jesus.
A year ago, I’d never heard of Slab City, Salvation Mountain, or East Jesus. Yet again, Instagram was the instigator. It was the reason I first laid eyes on Salvation Mountain. And from the very first glance at images of the cool and colorful creation I thought to myself: “Must. Go. There.”
Last Wednesday, that’s just what I did!
Southwest Road Trip
Currently I’m wrapping up a mini Southwest road trip that started in Las Vegas and ends in Tucson, Arizona. My sister and I decided to meet in Vegas two weeks ago to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. We successfully completed the run the Sunday before last and it was a blast! We had The Strip all to ourselves. Along with 25,000 other runners, that is!
I told my sister, Anne-Marie, of my plans for after leaving Las Vegas: to visit Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Salvation Mountain, then on to Phoenix, Arizona. After that I’d head to Tucson and even further south, to Rio Rico, Arizona, where our parents live.
Just like myself a year earlier, Anne-Marie hadn’t heard of Salvation Mountain either. But when I showed her some pics, she told me she’d seen the iconic images recently in a new music video by Kesha. We looked it up on YouTube, and — sure enough! — there was Salvation Mountain.
(You can check out the video yourself below. But, FYI, the song starts one full minute in.)
Salvation Mountain also makes an appearance in the movie adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, which I’ve yet to see, but have added to my watch list!
On the Road Again
After four nights in Sin City, I dropped my sister off at Vegas McCarran International Airport early Monday morning, crossed the Nevada-California border, and drove southwest to Palm Springs.
Two days later a beeping alarm woke me at ridiculous-o’clock. (That’s 3:30am, in case you were wondering.) I was up at that profane hour in order to check out of the downtown Palm Spring’s Motel 6, so as to arrive at Salvation Mountain by sunrise.
So let’s talk about the “mountain.”