So, Joshua Tree was pretty awesome, it's definitely on our list of places to return to and camp. Our compass at this point was pointing us South towards the Salton Sea and Slab City.
First impressions of the Salton Sea, "hey cool, a salinated body of water in the middle of the desert." Second impressions of Salton Sea, "this place wreaks! Look at the dead fish, I would never swim in that water." I've pulled a short excerpt from Wikipedia explaining briefly what's happened in the salt water lake:
By 2014, large swaths of lake bed were exposed and salt levels drastically increased due to mandated water transfers to metropolitan areas along the coast and other factors, limiting the water inflow. Besides the resulting fish kills, the shrinking lake interrupts the bird migration, causes dust clouds and impacts local tourism negatively.
This would explain the overpowering stench and large collections of dead fish on the lakeside. Although a neat place to see, a lake in the middle of a desert, the Salton Sea is not a place I'd suggest hanging out near if you have a weak stomach.
Next on our radar was Slab City, a popular Overlander's destination which can also be seen in various scenes in the movie 'Into The Wild". Once a military base the area has now been abandoned leaving only large concrete slabs used for barracks. Considered the 'last free place on earth' many who would rather not be discovered have flocked to the area to find refuge from what they might consider an oppressive governmental system fueled by capitalism and bent on the control of its subjects, or something like that. That's certainly the vibe you get when you go there. Many would consider Slab City a garbage pit, which for the most part I suppose is true, there's a lot of garbage, but it is the kind of area where anything goes which makes it somehow exciting. We rolled in early evening to catch a sunset from Salvation Mountain. As the sun finally dipped below the horizon we parted ways with Alison's parents and made our way into Slab City to find a campsite. After a very long time of wandering around we (by we I mean me, Alison would have settled on a spot far earlier) finally found a perfect spot, far enough away from others but close enough to feel like we were still in the Slab City. The moon that night lit up there area enough that we cast shadows at 9pm well after the sun disappeared, it was pretty surreal.
The next morning we made sure to wake up for a view of the sunrise and we were not disappointed. We're quickly discovering that desert sunrises and sunsets are pretty unforgettable. Alison made us breakfast while I scurried around and took pictures while simultaneously breaking down the tent. After we had taken down camp we set out to take a quick walk through the East Jesus sculpture garden.
The day started out pretty rad, right? Well, it only got better from there. We were scheduled that day to meet up with Alison's parents once again to go for a day of desert ATV (side by side) fun. This has to be one of the funnest things I've done in a while! Each couple got a 800cc Polaris RZR to rip around in through a vast expanse of OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) designated land.