if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out


When I was in Springfield visiting Elsie and Red Velvet, Emma told me about this crazy place in southern California called Salvation Mountain. She had stopped there once on a trip from Cali to Missouri and said it was really incredible, so I figured I'd try and stop by if my route back west took me through the area. Fortunately, I was actually driving right through that area, so I went to have a look! She wasn't kidding, it really is a most incredible sight. Very bizarre too. It's set in this sort of crazy area that I feel like only exists in movies- but it's real life. Right beyond Salvation Mountain is a place called Slab City, which is basically just this abandoned wasteland-like deserty area where people in run down RVs of the same vintage as the Brave just park and camp for free. And they just live there. It's kinda crazy. I would've stayed there, but I would've rather had someone with me to do that. I suspect there are quite a few bizarre characters living out there. I have been trying to be more out-there lately, as far as extroversion goes, but it's still slow coming. There are some days when I feel okay interacting with strangers and the crazy folks I've encountered on this trip, but on the day I was there, I just was feeling very introverted, so I suspect I wouldn't have said hi to any locals anyway.

But as for Salvation Mountain itself, it was just awe inspiring. The whole place is just an explosion of color and joy. It's made by this old 79 year old man named Leonard who has spent decades creating it out of adobe and paint. He's started making this other cavelike area on the right hand side of the mountain and I almost think that area is even more incredible than the mountain itself. I wish I had taken video of it because photos just don't give you the full effect. Alas, I'm still not used to having a phone that has video capabilities and totally forgot that I could do that.

I think a lot of people would think that Leonard is a bat-shit crazy old dude, living in the middle of nowhere and building this crazy mountain, but I thought it was endearing and very inspiring to see someone just doing something they are passionate about- even if other people think it's crazy. Not everyone is called to live a "normal" American life, and I think those who aren't often get chastised for being weird, but I appreciate when people follow what they feel passionate about. I actually really love those odd folks living on the fringes of society. Most people forget about them and it's a shame because they often have such rich and interesting lives.


I haven't felt that inspired to do outfit posts lately. Nothing in my closet is really meshing with me- well, not nothing, but I'm having trouble figuring out my style. The past year and a half I've been quite feminine in my style and while I loved that, I think I'm sinking back into my more tomboy roots. The style pendulum swung far in the opposite direction from my younger days as a complete tomboy, and now it looks like it's settling somewhere in between the two. Unfortunately, my closet does not reflect this, since all my clothes are still the same ones I've worn the past year. I'm working on reworking what I've got to reflect more of who I feel like I am now, but it's been less than successful.

It's strange. I feel like a completely different person than the girl who rolled out of Anchorage two and a half months ago. I know this can't be true, but I feel like it. It is funny coming back up through California, thinking about the girl I was the last time I was driving through Cali. Today I drove right by The Nut Tree and reflected on being at the Nut Tree two months ago. So crazy! Maybe I haven't really changed that much, perhaps I just know myself better. Either way, I feel very positive. I'm thrilled to see what happens next. And I think I'm ready for it. I hate saying that because inevitably a curve ball gets thrown your way and that feeling of being ready for anything quickly is replaced by coping with new life circumstances. I was reading Melissa's blog, Dear Baby, today and she did a post talking about that quote, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." I think that really is the case. It's hard for me to let go because I'm a big fan of controlling the circumstances surrounding me. I'm trying to learn to let go, but it's hard and my natural tendency is to have everything under control. Have everything planned out. In some ways, this is a positive trait. But at the same time, being able to let go, be flexible, and adapt are all things that I'm working on. And trusting that things will work out, even if I don't have them all figured out.


*I found this blog post on Slab City/Salvation mountain that was pretty good if you want to know more about it*

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32 comments:

Ester Jean said...

1. I love the cave

2. I love "love" messages

3. I love your photos

4. I saw a Brave (same year & all) on TV the other day and thought of you :)

Michal said...

This place looks so cool!! I can't believe it's real.

I'm sure you have changed since the beginning of the trip. When I backpacked in Europe for a little less than two months, I know I changed by the end of it. It was weird, I couldn't pin point down exactly what it was that was different, but i just didn't feel the same.

jek-a-go-go said...

i have been really enjoying your trip posts as i recently returned from a three month stint on the road as well. granted, i'm wasn't traveling alone like you so i feel kinda wussy and in awe of you and your adventurous spirit! leonard knight is a pretty awesome man and yay for you seeing salvation mountain. did you swing by bombay beach as well? here's to happy road trip travels and i hope you enjoy your return journey thru california. if you need any ideas, gimme a shout!

~jek

Gwen said...

GUH!
you were right near me! (san francisco)
ever since I started reading your blog I wanted to sit down and have tea with you and just talk.
youre whole trip just amazes me and I would have had so many questions!

*sigh* maybe next time around when you stop in Alameda again (i live in Oakland but am in Alameda everyday)

kelly ann said...

isn't it unreal?! i'm completely inspired by leonard and the fact that he is so committed to salvation mountain and has SO much passion for his faith and the message that has been placed in his heart. it's absolutely incredible.

slab city is completely trippy, it really is like something out of a weird movie!

Ashley Reynolds said...

I was here two years ago, and it made me feel like a different person too. Your post has such sweet nostalgia for me, and your photographs are beautiful!

XO.

Anonymous said...

You're on your way back up North?

Dayna Ferrone said...

Salvation Mountain is in the movie "into the wild" and incidentally...the main character was on his way to Alaska. <3 If you havent seen it, then please do. Its one of the best!

Meghan said...

whenever I see a lil brave I think of you and your journey :)

PeanutButterHound said...

Hey you should check out Australian photographer Claire Martin who took an amazing series of photos of the people call Slab City home.

Loving following you trip xo

Charlotte said...

i can definitely relate to a lot of this.
i've been living in America for over 3 months now as an exchange student and it's been such an interesting experience that I feel completely different. I've learnt a lot, but what can we do in life except learn?
Also, I can totally relate on being a control freak. A lot of the time I love it- I get everything done on time, I'm really organized. But sometimes I worry I'll look back on my life and be mad at myself for always being so safe and boring.
I think what you're doing is so brave. I remember you talking about your plan to do this over a year ago when I first started reading your blog. I still can't believe you really went out and did it!!

Charlotte xxx

April, Everyday Forgotten said...

That really is bizarre! It's really amazing how much time and effort he's put in to that and to see the finished effect, I'd never heard of it till now. so thanks for sharing!

bee. said...

Woah, that sounds like one of the weirdest places on earth! Haha. I jump between extroversion and introversion too sweet. It just depends on how I feel on the day rather than the people which is silly I guess. Leonard certainly sounds like a passionate person! He must be really commited too. I'm glad you're feeling good sweet (:

Victoria / Justice Pirate said...

Looks so cool. Love it!

Anna said...

This place looks amazing! So vivacious and colorful!
And I have to say, I'm very suprised that the brave trip is already coming to a close. And may I ask, what are you going to do next?

Carys said...

Wow, this place looks totally crazy, I wish I'd seen it for myself!! These pictures are great, the colours look amazing!
From Carys of La Ville Inconnue

Heidi said...

What a interesting little place. Oh, the little things you find on driving trips...lol

Emily said...

Have you ever seen Into the Wild? They show Salvation Mountain and Slab City on there - cool to see photos of it in real life, too!

carrie murphy said...

looks so awesome! your pictures are great.

Malin said...

Oh, I've been wanting to go there ever since I heard about that place and that man(!)... but if I ever will go to actually see the place some day, the man will probably be gone by then. :/

Reticella said...

what a fascinating little place, i should visit on my next california trip!

i saw a brave look-a-like driving home today and thought it could be you for a second!

Caroline said...

Wow, this place looks amazing. Such gorgeous colors and inspirational writing. I sincerely hope that you find your style/yourself. Keep searching!

Anonymous said...

These pictures are absolutely amazing, seeing so much colour in one place is just so different and interesting. Also, I can't believe you've been on the road that long - wow!

You often talk about things like being able to let go, and my comments to myself are along the lines of "What does letting go actually mean?" Like, what are you meant to do? I find myself sort of needing to trust more, let go more, but I have no idea how...So confusing, haha.


-Anna

Mandy Paige said...

I have never been to Slab City or Salvation Mountain, it's a shame because I live here (in S. CA) and have always wanted to.

From what I hear the characters out there aren't as shady as you would think. There just a bunch of vagabond hippies. A good friend of mine was living out there for awhile, it was really different, but he enjoyed it.

northwest is best said...

Wow, Salvation Mountain looks amazing! I'm not a Christian but really appreciate the message behind it, and the dedication taken to create it.

rbx. said...

You should absolutely watch the movie "Into the Wild"! Not only is it a great and inspiring flick, but it also features the Salvation Mountain in one of the scenes. Annndd he's going "into the wild" of Alaska!

Amy Morby said...

I just started reading your blog, and I can't tell you how awesome it is. This post meant so much to me because I'm in such a similar situation in life.

Thank you for your beautiful and ever inspiring blog! You're awesome.

Also...I have a 1984 Westfalia Vanagon camper, and I've been itching to do a huge road trip like yours, so I already feel like a kindred spirit! :)

ThaWiseOwl said...

I was just there last Friday for my second time! I will go back again for sure. Here is a link from my first visit! I can't wait to get a good camera and go back...

http://thawiseowl.blogspot.com/2009/10/salvation-mountain-true-american-folk.html

Sarah with an "h" said...

That's totally neat. Maybe I'm wrong but itsn't this place in that movie, Into The Wild?

I think it's quite probable that you've changed drastically over the past couple of months. These days, I feel like I'm different from month to month. Life does that to you when you're really living it, I think.

I like that quote about making God laugh. It's so true. I gave up planning a while back when I realized that nothing ever turns out the way you plan. Never. Not that I've seen anyway. It doesn't mean that it will turn out badly. It just means that it's pointless to try and map out intricate details. I'm learning to trust God. But even with my lack of planning I still have a problem with control.

Great post, Elizabeth. And thanks for sharing your heart with all us readers. I love reading your blog and look forward to seeing where this road takes you.

:o)Sarah

Rebecca said...

This place is so amazing! I can`t imagine actually seeing it in person, the colours and creativity that have gone into it are pretty impressive even in photograph. Wow!

Angela said...

your blog is the bees-knees!!! :D LOVE

Marisa said...

Incredible! I have to go!!! Thanks for sharing!