Those are the two things I remember the most about visiting Salvation Mountian. The sun beat down on us as relentless as ever- not even at Death Valley had it felt so harsh, like it’s only purpose was to shine brighter than anything else out here.
Lucky for me though, because it made all the colors of this place stand out in brilliant contrast to the almost literal wasteland surrounding it. Slab City is the place you’ll find Salvation Mountain, or if you actually want to googlemaps yourself here, perhaps searching for Niland will help get you there. I learned about Salvation Mountain around the same time as my interest (obsession?) in the Salton Sea started and getting the chance to visit one meant of course I had to visit the other.
The parking area was half filled with cars when we arrived, people climbing all over the mountain and taking selfies. By the way yup, you can climb it, just make sure to stay on the “yellow brick road”, by which they mean the yellow painted steps or else the caretaker will yell at you very loudly and you might just slip and hurt yourself. We stayed with our feet on the ground though, wandering in and out and around, just literally dazzled by the colors. Its surreal and something close to madness, but it’s also beautiful and the passion that created the whole thing is certainly felt at every turn.
If you’re headed to Coachella, Joshua Tree National Park or you want to get away from it all by moving to Slab City (billed as the last free place in America ), do stop by. Keep an open mind, don’t go wandering too far off into the desert and keep a small grip on reality.
~m p.s in case you dear reader are curious, i’m not exactly religious but I could still appreciate the fervor and devotion so very much evident here
We left New Hampshire with a deep longing to be back, soon. We almost thought about staying an extra day, and then another one after that but considering we had already extended our stay there, we braced our hearts and moved on in the direction of Montpelier, VT. We jumped on a highway and then an hour later were subtly dumped off it, onto a byway that wound through lovely green hills, gentle curves and bumps leading us deeper into the state.
Little towns here and there, me and Kat wondering if our GPS had yet again led us astray, a forever deep longing for more coffee. And then, just as we were starting to loose hope, we started seeing signs for Montpelier, the road dipped down into a valley and all of a sudden, a turn here a turn there, we were parking and getting out onto streets that wouldn’t have been out of place on a movie set. Our first stop was a book store because, well. It was called Rivendell books, and even though our luggage was already to bursting with stuff and souvenirs, it’s not like either one of us has a will of iron. A most excellent cheeseburger at Coffee Corner was the cherry on top of this Vermont milkshake (and wow that’s a really odd and slightly gross sentence isn’t it?). And you know what, even the gas station we stopped at before entering the utterly confusing realm of Connecticut was lovely.
So, I can tell you, Vermont was just as beautiful as i’ve heard and then some. And then a bucket more on top of that some. I would have loved to spend a whole month there, bump along the seemingly always under construction roads, green mountains and valleys along every turn of the highway, and coffee fueling me past the time when I should have caught some shut eye. The state made me want to buy books, dress in my sunday best and smile at strangers on the street. It was the embodiment of loveliness, as close to “quaint” as you can get while still being utterly majestic in its own way.
The story could start with how New Hampshire was just supposed to be an afternoon/early morning exploration, a stop over in our 5 day roadtrip before heading into Vermont and then down to Connecticut. I’d just looked on map and said, “Huh, White Mountains Natl. Forrest… sounds cool yeah? Lets spend a night there.” Which would bleed into the story about the hastily booked night at an Econo-Lodge (that turned into two) and the comfortable god-I-feel-like-I-could-live-here feeling I got hanging out in the cold parking lot staring up into star studded sky, my feet bare and touching the cold pavement like it was a wondrous carpet lit up underneath my feet. I say it all the time, and I think it even more, “I could live here” but… it’s different when you’re standing outside of your warm and cozy room, in thin pj’s, not-at-all-reliable service on your phone, staring up at the mountains with a true longing in your heart.
There’s the story about the rainy afternoon we spent exploring up in the mountains after getting a really late start and then getting lost for 2 hours on the roads and highways that run run run all over the mountains there, just trying to get back to somewhere that didn’t proclaim “Caution, Bears” while getting slowly soaked and feeling like the only people in the mountains. The story about how at almost 7 in the evening, the sun still just a suggestion behind storm clouds, me and Kat tried to cross a river running high, her in her much beat up Converse and me in my utterly useless Nike’s. There was a plan that involved, “so like, you just jump a bit and try and grab ahold of that sapling there on the edge and then…” before Kat decided to be smart and convinced us to turn back. I remember calming agreeing with her decision ( or perhaps I was the one that yelled into the trees “You won’t defeat me forever Mt. Potash! I will be back, with a horse! Because thats the only way you can cross this damn thing!”) before we turned back onto the trail that lead back to the car and warmth. And then we found an overlook that spread out the mountains in front of us like a painting of beauty and we got even more soaked and I felt my heart squeeze with happiness while our feet squelched and left a trail of dirty river water everywhere we went.
Theres the story about drinking hard cider on the bed back in our room, while nursing a bruised bottom and achy joints, staring up at the ceiling and wondering when did you become such an adventure and also when did you get so out of shape, while your friend watched How I Met Your Mother on her iPad. There’s a tale about the most epic breakfast we had throughout the whole trip at a place called Flapjacks Pancake house and the little toy train that sped around the restaurant making everything feel like out of a fuzzy dream. The tiny aside in the story about how i’m pretty sure my excessive photo-taking started grating on Kats nerves but how she put up with me like a champ anyways, and the all too perfect ending to the tale when we woke up on the morning we were leaving, to clear skies and perfectly sunny weather, before we started our overly caffeinated drive into Vermont.
~Continuing the photographic adventures I had with a good friend back in May that i’ve just now finally gotten ’round to editing….. ahem, procrastination, I am thy humble slave…
To say I was good at any part of this would be a terrible, terrible lie. I wouldn’t stop taking photographs, Kat trail blazed like a pro, and I fell down numerous times, though thankfully I somehow managed not to break my camera even a little. At the falls my phone, though being perfectly fine throughout the hike up, decided to commit suicide and turned itself off till we had gotten back to the start of the trail. Cheeky little thing.
We snacked on really unhealthy frosted donuts and water, completely alone up in trail, enjoying the falls all to ourselves, and while my joints ached with disuse and I half wanted to die a little, I want to go back one day soon and do it all over again.