Salvation Mountain: what’s your dream?

December 31, 2014

On Sunday morning I woke up holidayed out and stir crazy. I’d read about Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain last year and put it on my list of things to do, so decided to hop in the car and check it out. You can read more of the back story here and here.  Two things had stayed with me since I’d heard about the place: Knight’s fierce commitment to what he believed was his life’s calling and all the vibrant colors.

We pulled up about three and a half hours after getting in the car and let me tell you, it was worth every mile. There’s a sea out there past Palm Springs. Did you know that? I’m not a native of Southern California, but Chris is and he had no clue. It’s just fascinating (to me) that this place is so close in proximity, yet so unlike anything else I’ve experienced since moving here over a decade ago. I guess I need to get out more. The drive provided a backdrop of nothing but tumbleweeds and abandoned buildings against a piercing blue sky and sea. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

The thing at the forefront of my mind three days later, however, is Salvation Mountain itself. Picture it: you’re going along seeing nothing but dusty brown and blue when you catch a glimpse of rainbow-like color in the distance. If you didn’t know it was there, I’d imagine you’d shake your head to make sure you weren’t seeing things. The site is completely unexpected, huge, and a real testament to Leonard Knight’s dedication. He built that thing with his own two hands! Regardless of what your religious beliefs may be, whether or not you even have any, there’s something tremendously inspiring about seeing what a person can accomplish when they’re completely in love with their work.

Also, the place was laced with cats. Let’s just say Chris pretty much had to drag me out of there. I’m still thinking about going back with a case of food. (eyeball emoji)

::Apologies in advance for the less than stellar pictures. They’re a mix of iphone and SLR and we clearly suck at using the latter even on auto. That said, I hope you get an overall idea. Bear in mind this is just a small sampling of all the intricate details, nooks and crannies there are to see. If you’re ever considering the trip, I say do it!::

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I feel like I just wrote an infomercial for Salvation Mountain when what I’m really trying to say is: God I feel lost in my own life. I have no clue what I’m going to do for work now that I’m getting better (if I don’t go back to high pressure search). Man was it helpful and inspiring to see someone without any resources find purpose and genuine happiness, void of material possessions and a specific ‘plan’ (the dreaded plan #barf).

I sure hope it happens for me.

And I regret having missed the opportunity to meet Leonard in person. Maybe he would have had some words of wisdom, maybe he was a kindred spirit. I mean, did you see those CATS? You know I have more pictures of them…

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  • Reply This Free Bird January 1, 2015 at 1:02 am

    The drive was really something else. I’ve never been past Palm Desert and it was a whole lot of wide open. Very cool, kind of Mad Max-like. Kept waiting for Tina Turner to pop out on a dirt bike. Sadly, Leonard passed away in February of 2014. Here’s a write-up the LA Times did on him. I loved that they call him an artist, because he truly was: Happy New Year, Jen!! I’ll be donating some food to those kitties for SURE. xo

  • Reply Jen December 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Super cool adventure! I’ve been out to Joshua Tree area before and I had a client up north at Edwards Air Force base…those drives through the empty desert are pretty amazing. Without a map you are LOST. I did that drive to EAFB pre-GPS/cell phone and it was pretty interesting if you weren’t sure where you were going. Turn left at the next tumbleweed and just keep going! Must be so cool to see this place rising out of the emptiness – empty meaning devoid of human presence. Certainly not empty of natural beauty and wonder. I checked out the web site and it doesn’t mention that Leonard was no longer living…did he just pass away? I really hope that with all those people willing to help him with supplies for his project, that some are also making sure they help those kitties. Happy New Year!

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