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Slab City Talent Show & Salvation Mountain Excursion

It's that time of the year again when we head out to The Salton Sea for a trip to Salvation Mountain and a visit to the Slab City Talent Show. Located 120 miles east of San Diego.

Slab City is an assemblage of mostly "recreational vehicles"; a community that formed on its own, without any apparent organizational force. Located at the site of a former military base, on the edge of the Chocolate Mountains, an active bombing range in the Imperial Valley, Slab City gets its name from the prevalence of concrete aprons--or slabs--at the site. A network of roadways and slabs accommodate a community of up to a few thousand occupants in the cooler winter months. The populace is comprised of all sorts, from "road warriors" living in buses that haven't moved in 20 years, to "snow-birders"-- retired folks who migrate to warmer climes in their RV's in the winter. This varied mixture of people get along and seem to enjoy the variety of attitudes at Slab City.  

Salvation Mountain is a non-religious, man-made mountain of outsider art created by one man, Leonard Knight over a span of nearly 30 years:

East Jesus: Charles Russell, a talented artist and one of those guys who masked a mostly kindly nature with a humorously misanthropic exterior, found a spot just north of The Range, named it "East Jesus" in a nod to its remote location on the way to nowhere, and moved in. When he got there in 2006, his place was a depressing rust-strewn thicket of creosote, tamarisk, and broken glass. By the time Russell died this May of an unexpected heart attack in his mid-40s, it was a work of art.

Salvation Mountain - Official Website - Niland, California

Some videos from Slab City Talent Shows past:

Our American Life: Slab City Talent Show 2009

East Jesus: 'East Jesus' Desert Art Project In Peril | Commentary | SoCal Focus | KCET

We'll be carpooling there so you'll need to organize your ride with the members who are offering rides here. If you're driving, leave your message as to where you'll be leaving from, time, how many seats available (please update as it changes), etc. Riders are expected to chip in for gas.

If you're LOOKING for a ride, leave a message here or contact the drivers.

We'll drive our respective carpools and meet at Bobby D's Pizza Plus at approximately 11:00. There you can say hello to Norma (the owner) and get some breakfast, lunch or a snack before we head over to the Mountain at 11:30-45. How long you stay for the day depends solely on your driver, so coordinate with them. The sunset is around 5:15 PM.

More info will be added as we get closer.

Unfortunately, Leonard will not be there, as he's been placed in a care facility in El Cajon.

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  • Robin R.

    I stumbled on this article about the residents of Slab City & thought some of you might be interested.
    http://news.yahoo.com/slab-city-living-off-grid-californias-badlands-090000272.html

    February 3, 2012

  • Dianne A.

    Tom, Thanks for posting the gigapan image; that's amazing! Fun to zoom around it; ditto Dan's comment. How did it turn out relative to your expectations?

    January 31, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Tom: Terrific image and fun zooming in. Like the way some people are visible on the top of the mountain multiple times!

    January 31, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Thanks for posting that video Angela. I hadn't seen it before and it was very interesting. One thing they didn't mention was the flooding problems. Check out this website for more info on Bombay Beach and other nearby areas: http://www.saltonseadoc.com/bombayBeach.html

    January 31, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Here's my gigapan image of Salvation mountain, taken on a GigaPan Elite Pro robotic mount, stitching together 119 images into a single 1 gigapixel image... you can explore it here http://gigapan.org/gigapans/97941

    1 · January 31, 2012

  • Angela R

    If anyone is interested in watching a 6 min video of Anthony Bordain's visit to Ski Inn in Bombay Beach. We asked the woman behind the bar about Anthony's visit and she just shook her head and said she had to "run him off". Sounds about right :).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCRlWY0qL-0

    1 · January 30, 2012

  • Dianne A.

    Fun and interesting trip - way too many photo ops to absorb in one day. Great group of people - very friendly and helpful. We went out early and explored the area for birds, mud volcanos, etc. Lots to see. Thanks, Dan.

    January 30, 2012

  • David B.

    This was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet people that have chosen a different lifestyle, thanks for putting this together Dan!

    January 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a fun day and what an interesting slice of life at Slab City. Had a blast shooting this venue and east Jesus, and playing with my new SX40HS. We were late for the fly-in at the reserve, but when we got there, there were 10s of 1000s of birds... every kind of geese, sandhill cranes and so many other species in this one location. I'll be heading back out to catch a fly-in (and maybe a flyout) before they fly north.

    January 30, 2012

  • Joseph B.

    I had such a great time out there and would highly recommend it! I can't wait to go back!

    January 29, 2012

  • Angela R

    Great meetup. This was a very unique experience that I look forward to doing again.

    January 29, 2012

  • Shannon

    A great day of photo fun! So many different things to see there was not enough time to get it all in!

    January 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a great trip! This was my first excursion to Salvation Mountain, and I was not disappointed. My 10 year old tagged along with me, and not once did I hear, "Mom, can we go home now?" So it must have been fun for her too!

    January 29, 2012

  • Mark M.

    I look forward to this excursion every year and it was not a let down. It was a bummer not to see Leonard at the mountain this time, but i guess all things must change. Overall, it was a great trip though.

    January 29, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Bobby D's to Salvation Mountain to Slab City to East Jesus to Bombay Beach to Denny's in El Centro. Awesome day, terrific outing! The pictures always tell the story better than I can. Looking forward to them :o)

    January 29, 2012

  • Damian

    Excellent trip, Dan did a great job coordinating the people and visits.

    January 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was my first time visiting the area - definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.

    January 29, 2012

  • Robin R.

    This is a great trip with so many interesting things to see.

    January 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great day in the desert with friends. Thanks for organizing such a great adventure Dan!

    January 28, 2012

  • DMack

    While I did not make it to Bobby D's in time to meet the group I did run into some very friendly people from a related group and followed them to the mountain. What a chaotic and fun place, like a museum without the stuffy, dull feel. I stayed long enought to get sunset photos and will post my best few asap.

    January 28, 2012

  • DMack

    Thanks for the update David. See you there tomorrow. Anyone still looking for a ride LMK.

    January 27, 2012

  • David B.

    Hello everyone! I just returned from Slab City and it was really windy there as well as the mountain drive on the highway 8. It's 308 miles round trip from Mission Valley to Slab City and I still had a quarter tank left. I plan to head back in the morning, see ya' there.

    January 27, 2012

  • Cary C.

    What is the address of Bobby Ds pizza place where we're meeting at 11? See ya there!

    January 27, 2012

  • Dan C.

    If you are still looking for a ride or looking for passengers, you can check the attendee's messages on all three websites: http://www.meetup.com/san-diego-photography-meetup/events/45042052/ http://www.meetup.com/northern-san-diego-photography-meetup/events/45042482/
    http://www.meetup.com/san-diego-urban-exploration-group/events/45036462/ - Also, Please remember to update your status and if you already have a ride, but were looking for one previously, let it be known. Same with seating avail.

    January 27, 2012

  • Cary C.

    Hi! Im planning on driving there from Temecula.. I can fit two people. If you need a ride and can meet up in/near Temecula let me know. OR if you need more people to fill your car and are leaving near Temecula let me know!!! Send me a message. tHANKS! - Cary

    January 26, 2012

  • Joseph B.

    I am looking for someone to carpool with on Saturday. I will have one guest with me as well.

    January 26, 2012

  • Dan C.

    I'll be sending out my cell number soon for Saturday. Gonna be a busy day so be as prepared as you can be in advance, since my phone will most likely be driving me crazy. I'm assuming there will be no reception issues out there but practice patience if you're trying to reach me and keep it brief. I'll try to update our location.

    January 25, 2012

  • Joseph B.

    I live in City Heights south of University Ave. I will send a message with my phone number.

    January 22, 2012

  • Kerry

    HI Joseph, Where do you live? Angela is riding with someone else. I'm right by Morley Field and Upas.

    January 22, 2012

  • Joseph B.

    Kerry,
    I would like to carpool with you. I will be bringing one guest along with me.

    January 21, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Please remember to update your status ON YOUR RSVP, especially if you have a SPARE SEAT for someone to ride along or if you're LOOKING FOR A RIDE. Letting us know your status will help assure that everyone who wants to go, will be able to go. Riders are expected to help with fuel costs ($ cost is up to the drivers) and remember to bring your lunch & dinner money too. ? PS: NO need to bring a gallon of paint to Salvation Mountain as was done in the past.

    January 19, 2012

  • Dan C.

    We're doing an anti-rain dance that morning...

    January 18, 2012

  • Sam W.

    Hopefully the weather behaves and it doesnt rain.

    January 18, 2012

  • David B.

    This should be really fun! Can't wait!

    1 · January 18, 2012

  • Kerry

    lol! A Flickr friend from London recommended this art also :) I'd love to check it out if there is time or maybe another day? Also I have room for one more person in my car. I live in North Park. Let me know if anyone else needs to carpool.

    January 17, 2012

  • Dan C.

    January 16, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Here's something we can also check out: Messaged from urban explorer Flip Cassidy:
    "I'm not sure if your group is already aware or not, but one of the absolute gems of Slab City (and a MUST visit for photographers!) is the East Jesus Sculpture Garden. East Jesus is located on the outskirts of the Slabs and is full of amazing large-scale art made from repurposed materials. Check out the website - www.eastjesus.org and check the place out on your trip if you can. You will not regret it!"

    January 16, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Lots of information on the event & locations are available here: http://files.meetup.com/120211/Slab_City_Talent_Show_2012.pdf - Feel free to print out the info and MAPS but you can disregard the camping details unless you feel like camping out there. I'm not sure that the Hash Runners are actually going to be setting up there this year.

    January 13, 2012

  • Michelle C.

    Hey Jennifer, Im bringing 2, 11 and 16. See you soon. I'll be packing lunch and snacks.

    January 12, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Kids are fine for this trip Jennifer. Wish they had places like this to go to when I was a kid!

    January 12, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Dan, I was wondering if it would be appropreate if I bring my children. They love stuff like this. My son is 12 and my daughter is 7.

    January 12, 2012

  • Dan C.

    Happy New Year to all. - Remember to UPDATE your status under your rsvp's so that we know if you're looking for passengers (and from what location) or if you're still looking for a ride and what part of town you'll be needing a ride from. - Almost 3 weeks to go and not too early to get a plan in place. - Nearly 80 people are signed up between the 3 Meetup groups going (some names may be redundant) and this will be a busy yet fun event. I look forward to seeing everybody.

    January 5, 2012

  • Sam W.

    OOPs,,, I meant to say 2012,

    1 · December 25, 2011

  • Sam W.

    I didn't know that the Salton Sea had a History Museum. I didn't know they had boat races either, which are coming back in January 2010.

    December 24, 2011

  • Dan C.

    @ David: Breakfast will be in my kitchen ;o) - Lunch will be at Bobby D's unless you bring your own or stop along the way (that will be entirely up to your individual drivers). There's always the Ski Inn in Bombay Beach if you're hankering for a good beer and some Salton Sea ambiance.

    December 20, 2011

  • Mike

    Is there gonna be carpooling ? I'll chip in for gas : )

    December 20, 2011

  • David C. M.

    Google Maps shows that from Escondido taking Hwy 79 is shorter and faster (134 miles) then Hwy78 (the way I usually go) (147 miles) . Which way do you usually go to get there?

    December 20, 2011

  • Cory P.

    We traditionally go to the pizza place for lunch and discuss dinner later in the day.

    December 20, 2011

  • David C. M.

    Is it too early to discuss where we will meet for breakfast and lunch? :>)

    Apple Country Rest. in Santa Ysabel for breakfast and the Travertine Grill for lunch/ dinner?

    December 20, 2011

  • Dan C.

    Expect a fairly large turnout as there will also be members of the Northern San Diego Photography Meetup & the Urban Exploring Groups joining us there.

    December 20, 2011

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