Nothing prepares you
for the end of graduate
school, yet there is no
better way to prolong
the reality of life post academia than a long vacation.
Along side juggling the tremendous task of moving out of my studio space I decided that I needed to do some much needed traveling. Few days shortly after walking the stage I found myself on a road trip, destination Palm Springs. When I was a younger I had lived in the desert for quite sometime. When given the opportunity to visit, I ecstatically accepted the invitation!!
Palm Springs is a desert oasis infamous for spa get-aways, golf courses, and mid century architecture. Thus far, two for three is not bad.
As amazing as it was wading in the pool and soaking in the sun, especially with the breath taking California desert as the back drop, I was anxious to explore the greater valley.
With great recommendation we hit the road again and head south east for the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea is the largest body of water in California. It was an ecological accident, a bi-product of channeling water from the Colorado River to the desert. For two years this portion of the desert was flooded. When the sea did not dry up, real estate developers saw an opportunity to market an oasis in the desert. The Salton Riviera as it was marketed became a huge tourist attraction. But because the sea's only source of replenishment was agricultural run off it quickly became toxic. The booming towns emptied, development stopped midway and what is left are ghost towns and beaches made of skeletons of dead fish.
A short drive from the Salton Sea is the town of Niland. Just a handful of lots, one restaurant and gas station. Much like the towns lining the Salton Sea have more vacancies than occupancies. But tucked away in Niland, a short drive east is something unexpected.
For over a quarter of a century, Leonard Knight dedicated his life to his ever growing art installation, Salvation Mountain. The edifice is made of mud from the desert, abandoned debris like telephone poles, car doors, tires as well as donated bails of hay and gallons of paint. Each day Knight would work on constructing, maintaining and giving tours to the sight. Word of mouth and in the recent decade the internet has created exposure for Knight and he receives visitors nationally and internationally daily.
In 2012 due to failing health, Knight could no longer live at Salvation Mountain. In early 2014 Knight had past away. Fortunately before his death the sight was made a National Treasure.
The sight is truly remarkable.