With coffee in hand and a bit sleep deprived from my shenanigans in Hollywood the night before, I buckled it up and set my GPS for Phoenix. I had done some slight research as to things to see along the route. I had a few stop in mind (If you live in Socal check out onecoolthingeveryweekend.com). I cruised down Santa Monica Blvd and merged on to the 101 where I was met with heavy traffic. ok ok ok LA… you got me ONE last time with your silly traffic you little bugger you!
After passing downtown LA traffic cleared and it was smooth sailing. I ended up taking a wrong exit (perhaps I should of slept more last night – oppsie).. but it ended up taking me to downtown Palm Springs. I quickly cruised through, took a picture of this ginormous Marilyn Monroe statue, introduced LaRoo to 100 degree heat, then promptly headed on out of there to the Salton Sea.
About the Salton Sea: “The Salton Sea is one of the most enigmatic places in the Southwest–an otherworldly lake in the barren, naked desert, sandwiched between the resorts of Palm Springs and the Mexican border. Its languid surface, at 228 feet below sea level, is only five feet higher than the lowest point in Death Valley. This former resort region had its heyday during the early 1960’s, when it was a bustling place filled with weekend revelers from the nearby Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. For a time, the Sea was a haven for boaters and fishermen. Today, the few people who remain are hardy individualist types looking for isolation and a cheap place to live. The air is heavy with heat and decay. It’s a lonely, haunted place.” – http://lostamerica.com/photo-items/the-salton-sea/
I drove down this looooooooong, empty road and found the “Salton Sea Recreation Area”. I pulled in and saw a booth to pay for entry but no one in sight to pay. As I drove in I secretly was like “heck yea I got in for free!”… that feeling was quickly squashed when I saw NO ONE. and I mean NOT ONE PERSON was there. It had this creepy, ghost town vibe to it. I parked and as I opened the car door I was smacked in the face with the stench of rotting fish.
I quickly realized why this place was abandoned. As I neared the shore I was greeted by petrified fish carcasses and fresh dead ones were washing up on shore. Even though I was sweating my ass off (I chose jeans and a t-shirt to travel in that day…poor poor choice for 100+ degree heat)… I don’t think you could pay me enough to go for a swim in that lake. Well I probably would for the right amount but no one was there with any offers… So I steered clear of the fishies, snapped some photos, pleaded with LaRoo to not eat the dried up fish, then high tailed it back to my car and some air conditioning.
I guess the flies were sick of that place too because as I opened my car door 20 of them decided to invite themselves in. LaRoo went nuts trying to capture them and I drove with the windows down as I swatted at flies. After several minutes most of them were out yet there was this ONE fly that decided to freeload it for HOURS in the car. I’m not kidding… every once in a while it would buzz by, LaRoo would try to eat it, I would open the windows, but that little stinker was in it for the long haul.
From Salton Sea I headed south to go check out Salvation Mountain.
About: “Salvation Mountain is Leonard’s tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: “God Is Love.” Leonard’s passion has lovingly created this brilliant “outsider art ” masterpiece resplendent with not only biblical and religious scripture such as the Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16, and the Sinner’s Prayer, but also including flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, bluebirds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects.” – http://www.salvationmountain.us/
The drive to the “mountain” is through small, small, small town America. Like SUPER SMALL. I was the only person at the mountain and within a matter of minutes LaRoo decided it was too hot so I can to carry her sweaty, furry self for my 10 minute stay. It’s amazing what can happen when you have passion. The dude that created this mountain is a reminder to all that if the desire is there… anything can happen.
I turned out of the mountain and a few minutes down the road was Slab City. Talk about a place that was build with trash… holy crap! These people are pro-recyclers. I cruised through, snapped a few photos from the car then was on my way.
At this point I had no idea what I was doing aside from driving to Phoenix. I was taking the 78 back up to the 10 (I think this was my route? Ahhhhh so much has happened I’m forgetting already)… and I came across some sand dunes!! I pulled over to a lookout point, hopped the rail, and ran up the dune. I would say this was one of those HOLY CRAP moments. You know – one of those moments that make you feel super connected to this beautiful world. Pictures can’t truly capture the magic of standing on a sand dune and looking out for miles and miles and miles. Freaking awesome!
The remainder of the ride to Phoenix was smooth… mostly chatted with friends and listened to music. I also discovered that sunflower seeds are wickedly entertaining while driving. Especially if you get the jalepeno hot salsa ones. You can guess how many taste buds you will have left by the time you arrive!
I pulled into Phoenix and somehow managed to go into McDonalds, while on the phone, holding LaRoo, to go to the bathroom… OH and I talked to a homeless person holding a puppy that approached me to say hi to my dog… not going to lie – I felt slightly proud with my ninja multi-tasking abilities.
I headed towards downtown Phoenix (feeling less than impressed with the skyline) where I proceeded to accidentally turn down a one way street and didn’t realize it was one way until all 4 lanes were coming at me. AWESOME. I quickly busted a turn and all was ok. I was hungry and thirsty so I Yelped “dog friendly happy hour” and found the Rose and Crown Pub in Heritage Square. I called to confirm it was dog friendly and was told yuuup and that it was trivia night… I also asked where the best place was to park and found out they would validate if I parked in the one garage. SCORE! But at this point I had no idea where I was going to stay that night – and it was 7pm.
I remembered that I had met a friend’s neighbor’s son while in LA the week before and he lived in Scottsdale. I had chatted with him about my travels and he had mentioned to contact him. I got his number from my friend and he quickly responded to my text by calling and saying I was welcome to crash on his couch but he had to work the night shift. The background noise made it hard to hear so I thought he said he would call me at 11:30 so I could meet at his place…nice!
I sat on the porch with one other lonely soul but within 15 minutes the place was packed for trivia night! LaRoo is the ultimate conversation started so I quickly made friends with the guys next to me and became an honorary team member (to which I contributed NOTHING. Sorry boys). I met another girl who was living in Phoenix but preparing to move to Chicago that next week… and she was a teacher (my undergrad is in education)! We chatted for a bit and then I headed out to Scottsdale.
I had some epic tacos at this place called El Hefe and chatted with the bartender while waiting it out to meet up with my couch host. I texted him to let him know I was in town and didn’t hear anything for a while… figured he was working so went about my business. I pulled up into a McDonalds to pee again (joys of pounding water in this heat!) and was chatting with a friend on the phone for a while. Time kept going by and I wasn’t hearing anything… uh ohs where is this dude?
When it became clear that I wasn’t hearing back from him I decided to do what any rational person would do. Get 2 beers at the gas station and find a Walmart parking lot. I would just sleep in my car. Since it was 1am and I was planning on getting up at 6am to drive the Apache trail there was no way I was going to spend money on a hotel room — plus a side of me had to prove to myself that if it came down to it on my road trip.. I could sleep in my car.
I cracked open a cold one, put the windows down a bit, and entertained myself with Youtube videos until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore (around 3:00am). I’m thoroughly entertained by “best auditions” for singing shows by the way – the really good ones give me the goosebumps!! … and they weren’t going to happen otherwise provided it was 95 degrees at 2am.
I woke up every 30 minutes or so drenched in sweat and uncomfortable. How relaxing…
6am rolled around and I was startled by the crashing sound of carts as the Walmart worker was gathering them from the lot. For some reason my eyes were directed to a sign that said “NO OVERNIGHT PARKING”. Oh yea really? TAKE THAT Walmart — I did it anyway (in all honesty I didn’t see the sign the night before and there was a camper parked there sooooo – WHOPPS).
Apparently my ability to pay attention to signs SUCKED today.
Day/night one complete… tired and sweaty… but ready for day 2!