In the mid 1990's I obtained an overdubbed VHS tape. It contained super 8 footage from a geography called Salton Sea which was littered with broken concrete and looked like an abandoned post war paradise. After some research, I found out the geographic location was next to the fence that divides Mexico from its northern brother, the United States of America. Originally developed in the early 1900's to create irrigation on a small scale level for agriculture, the great flood of the Colorado river in 1905 blew out these small canals and filled the Salton Sink creating the massive lake known today as Salton Sea. In the 1950's people began to inhabit the shores with dreams of it becoming Palm Springs. The 50's and 60's were scattered with great floods which washed out the towns along the shore, and the agricultural runoff of fertilizers along with the salt mine concentration under the lake began to kill its inhabiting fish leaving them to litter the lake's shores. Surrounding towns eventually began to rebuild further off of the grid leaving the damage to bake in the sun and be long forgotten. A decade after the 90's, I was still stuck in my teenage mindset with a fascination for the place so I headed south to finally enter its womb. For the trip, my friends and I loaded a white utility van with tools, an assault rifle and sawed off shotgun, hoping to leave the desert intact or at least celebrate our amendment rights which aren't included in the state of California. One of the friends who happened to come along for the ride is a registered felon. In America, the law states that a felon is not to be around guns. In California, sawed off guns and assault rifles are also illegal. This never came across my mind as a big deal until the road abruptly stopped at a USA border patrol checkpoint. The cops opened the van and put a K-9 dog inside to inspect. "You boys are good to go", he announced, as we were sweating bullets wondering how he couldn't see the guns sitting on the shelf. Back on the road, headed south, the desert whispered vacancy until a dark shape in the distance intruded the palette with a lake larger than Jesus himself. "Bombay Beach right turn" read the sign. A dead coyote carcass baked in the sun directly at this point while a trailer park lay ahead in the distance. Bombay Beach already had the mystical methamphetamine euphoria which turned into paranoia when I entered the Ski Inn for a beer. Its inner appearance looked as if it had been abandoned since the 1960's, and three bar patrons appeared as decor mangled and mentally ill while every word that they spoke was undistinguished as if this place had created its own lingo. With a strange vibe in the room worse then a bad hit of acid, we pushed on. The whole town of Bombay Beach is dirt roads littered with garbage and trailer homes which appear to be so thrashed one wouldn't consider them liveable. Dead fish permanently stained the air as I drove from the bar and came across an old man in his yard. He could tell I was foreign and said "What the hell are you doing here?" After responding that I was just passing through, he then asked if I had any beer I could give him in which I responded, "I do not." "What are you doing here?" I asked. His response solidified the foundation of the town and the predictions I had when entering. "I am hiding from the government. I've been here 25 years. You boy's have a nice day." Upon scouting the alphabetical street names, I noticed it was a ghost town as everyone was sheltered down in their trailers dodging the blistering heat which was doing damage on me. I can see why living here would drive one insane. The desert sucks your mind and soul, and the desolation complicates the problem. These people weren't born insane, the geography chiseled them this way. Next on the map was a town further south and two miles inland from the lake called Niland. Niland is much like Bombay Beach visually, with past era decor and destruction. The town was slithering with the local population outside. Each person I took spectacle to was either drunk, on drugs, or yelling obscenities to one another. The local mini mart had a steady movement of traffic all exiting with cases of beer. God Bless America decorated one fence with an American flag soaring high above. Patriots of the land of the free. Main street splits the small town in half, and takes one to the outskirts where the painted masterpiece that has made this place famous, lays. Just before leaving the town, I stopped at the last house on the left to get out and stretch. Over the fence, I could hear a father beating his child and yelling, "You little piece of shit, I outta fuckin' kill you". Salvation mountain is a mystical experience. Leonard Knight dedicated the later years of his life to promote his ideal that "god is love". The mixture of clay, hay, garbage, and paint, have stained the desert floor drawing gypsies from all over to inhabit its premises. Located on the backside of the mountain, a community of motor homes and homemade dwellings create a community odd and peculiar.