Joshua Tree, Bombay Beach and Slab City. All within an hour’s drive of each other and yet all so different. Our home base for this part of the journey was at The Sky Valley Resort, in the Palm Springs ares. Staying here was our first true glimpse at what retired life in an RV could be like… and it was fabulous! During one morning visit to the hot spring pools, the year-round seniors invited us to play water-ball. What does water-ball consist of? Well, it’s a saggy net, many schoolyard balls, an a.m. cocktail, funny-ass people and a damn good time.
Slab City was a little hard to find. We took the long way around the Salton Sea – with a disappointing visit to the “Mud Pots” we had read about in another blog. The Mud Pots are really just the runoff from the power plant just a few hundred feet away. Boo! But soon Slab City and Salvation Mountain appeared out of nowhere. The creator and artist of Salvation Mountain had actually passed away a few months before our visit but we spoke to the volunteer caretaker on his shift in the 115 degree heat. Despite the near fainting from the heat, the mountain was actually impressive. The rest of Slab City was a bit dismal, it is a spot in the middle of nowhere that people are living completely off the grid. There were many shacks and RVs with trash piling up mixed in with the occasional artistic endeavor. We happened upon Slab City during the slower season so we didn’t see too many folks until we found a man, his mule and his dog doing laundry outside of town. He told us of the many troubles people in the area have with drugs.
Bombay Beach is a former get-away for the rich and famous from Hollywood. Floods ruined the buildings, the overly salted water and agricultural run-off killed the aquatic wildlife and in turn the birds. Bombay Beach became a deserted wasteland. As we walked around taking pictures of burned out meth labs (trailers) and meager living situations, we got this feeling like we were being watched. The landscape is surreal so it’s no surprise we came across a film crew with a few actors chasing each other and screaming bloody murder.
We were pleasantly surprised with Joshua Tree National Park – put that one on your bucket list! It’s a desert with so much life and unusual texture. We also caught one of the most amazing sunsets of the trip there. After visiting the National Park we suggest spending a little time in the town of Yucca Valley and stopping at Pappy and Harriets Pioneertown for some food. The park and this general area is one of the prime places to see the nighttime sky too. The stars are plentiful and bright with a hint of magic.
Overall this entire area was a true highlight, the lifestyles and sites were a privilege to experience. This was our final stop on the West Coast, from here we turned Loretta East and headed to Arizona.