Salvation Mountain

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Leonard Knight created Salvation Mountain – located just 1.5 hours outside of Palm Springs, California in Niland, Califoria – with what started as a failed attempt to spread his message of God is Love with a giant hand-crafted hot air balloon. The fabric of his fantastic balloon rotted before he could ever successfully launch it. So then with just half a bag of cement he decided to make a little monument in the desert before fleeing from his failure. Well, half a bag of cement and a little bit of paint turned into Salvation Mountain. But not without another failure – this mountain you see here is actually his second attempt after his first mountain collapsed. (source)

So when my family had the opportunity to take a little excursion out to Salvation Mountain after kicking it in Palm Springs for Designer VACA I knew we had to take it. We made the drive out to Salvation Mountain with our friends Star and Jamaica – we chatted about app development and game design – something Jeremy has been interested in doing lately. About 45 minutes into our drive, as we were passing the uninhabitable Salton Sea, Fox started to lose it. When no amount of books, toys, plastic bottles (his favorite thing), or Itsy Bitsy Spider would calm him down I unbuckled myself and contorted my body and managed to reach what felt like an itsy bitsy boobie to his mouth to finally pacify him. The border patrol didn’t seem to mind as they waved us through – surely they have children too. We drove past a man with a long beard and blistering red skin walking barefoot down the road. We stopped at a cash only gas station, complete with a horse-maybe-donkey hitched to a post, with a dirty bathroom tucked behind a meat counter.

And then we finally made it to Salvation Mountain. It felt kind of magical and kind of insane. And perhaps even a little post-apocalyptic. You can’t experience a piece of work like this without being moved. And I was moved but I can’t quite pinpoint how. It’s kind of like a not-quite-scary but very odd dream where you can’t quite remember the narrative but you’re left with a funny feeling all day after you wake up – that’s what Salvation Mountain was like.

  1. jensen

    Some friends and I went to Salvation Mount a few years ago. Leonard was still around, and he joined us for a picnic lunch of PB&Js and told us all these wonderful stories about his life — definitely a gem of a human.

    And the, “It’s kidn of like a not-quite-scary but very odd dream” — so spot on!

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