Go West Pt.2 | Finding East Jesus
We arrived to Palm Desert that night, went out for Thai food, and then got the grand tour. Our incredibly gracious hosts took us up a terrifyingly dark winding road to overlook the entire valley. An awesome sight at night. It was also the quintessential "make out point" that you see int he movies.
There were so many amazing things we did and super fun places we went, The Salton Sea, palm oasis, hiking trails in Joshua Tree, I could go on forever, but the focus of this will be our afternoon spent at Salvation Mountain, Slab City and East Jesus.
If you aren't familiar with Salvation Mountain, it is a site created by artist Leonard Knight, made up of, in large part, donated materials. After Knight began the site almost 30 years ago, people took notice and would bring him paint and other materials to continue working with. Quite obviously taking it's overall theme of Love and God, it's an ongoing theme repeated throughout the experience with bible verses and imagery. Whether you believe in Christian ideologies of not, this impressive work of art in the middle of a desert is worth checking out. Unfortunately Knight died in 2014, but there was a non-profit established to keep up with the maintenance that is needed to preserve Salvation Mountain.
After running around in, and climbing to the top of the mountain, we wanted to continue to Slab City. Slab City is an unregulated area of the desert where people have taken up residence in campers, tents, homes build of found items, almost everything you can think of. Some are there full time, and some just enjoy their squatters paradise in the "off season" months, since the Summer heat can be brutal. The concrete slabs in Slab City are left over from abandoned World War II Marine Corps barracks.
Slab City has no official running water or electricity, beyond what the residents have been able to create for themselves. It's really amazing to see the ingenuity of the residents and the things they are able to accomplish. As we drove through there was a mixed sense of openness, and people who want to live their lives off the grid and be left alone.
Continuing our exploration, we were super excited to check out East Jesus. East Jesus is an outdoor gallery of art installations made from all kinds of materials; scrap metal, wood, tv's, cars, planes. Any and everything is used to create art here. The gallery butts up to another area where people live, but this one is a little different than the wild west of Slab City outside of East Jesus. In order to live in this area, you are part of a commune, basically. You are asked to work for a few hours a day in order to keep the community up and running, and earn your space. This is for the people who really want to be a part of the community and work together. Our tour guides had been invited into this private area before by residents, which sounded amazing, but we were not so lucky.
The gallery, is really impressive. You are met by a "host" for lack of a better term, who gives you the run through of what you can and can't do. Basically the only rule is, don't go into the private residence section, everything else is fair game. We were advised, "if you break something, say it was like that when you found it". Our kind of place. We were able to talk to some artists who were working on some projects and found items outside of the club house. The artists were great to talk to, the club house however, although intriguing with it's rope net ladder and observation deck, did feel a bit like a death trap.
I won't go on forever with the details of our Joshua Tree hikes, vegan pizza expeditions, and the hummingbird that lives in my friends backyard, and lands on his finger when he holds it out like summoning a trained falcon. I'll just say, we hope you enjoy the photos, and if you have a chance to go west and explore any of these place, DO IT!