coquered desert pt. II / by laurel

To preface, this post is long. Really long. And this is a preface, not an apology.


"The detonation of adulthood has left a toxic fallout where not even plants survive. It's just me, a lone cockroach in a post-apocalyptic landscape, shuffling over the ashes of my WASTED YOUTH!"

Making wild, post-apocalyptic claims before noon is a sure symptom of the mid-summer, mid-week, quarter-life doldrums. Case in point? The precision with which I utterly annihilated the algorithms of small talk by hoisting out my soap box o' hyperboles and declared the above to a friend. Over iChat. While discussing houseplants.

Oy vey. If you made it through the above paragraph, I applaud you, Oh Stalwart Reader. My erstwhile claim that my mental mid-levels don’t occasionally get tweaked beyond acceptable freak-out highs and lows would be rendered null if only by that statement alone.

But I digress. Is it just me, or is this summer smacking with the taint of disappointment? Perhaps I expected way too much out of such a season, and anything that fails to live up to my Babel-onian expectations simply plummets into the pits of disappointment. But I so bored that I must resort to pithy references to roaches n’ nukes to somehow spice things up?

The only cure I can think of for such an affliction is a road trip. The venerable dark horse of the poverty jet-set, there’s nothing quite like getting outta dodge in time to catch the sun setting someplace other than just west of the evening work-to-home commute.

Starting from my proverbial Point A (Los Angeles), here is a tried-and-true roadmap to give Bored Over-exaggerators a weekend they won’t have to embellish (though references to fallout and Douglas Coupland may still sneakily decorate even the most engagingly 'true' stories).

:: Los Angeles to The Promised Land ::

The Salton Sea is somewhat of a geographical anomaly; birthed from an agricultural accident, developers wasted no time in dressing Miss Salton up all purty and parading her to the wealthy denizens Hollywood as the new vacation destination. However, intervening events have left the Sea in a mighty desperate state (dare I say, with her knickers showing?). I’ll let you research the cause-effect stories on your own, but until you’ve walked on a beach made entirely of ground fish bones, well, y’all haven’t lived.

From the 10 East, take hwy 86 until it intersects with hwy 111. Wind along the north shore of the sea on hwy 111, or stay on hwy 86 to explore the southern shores (undiscovered territory, at least not discovered by yours truly). From hwy 111, swing by the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and chat with the local guides for a quick brush up on the Sea’s history, as well as pointers on where to stay, what to see, and what to avoid. The trip will unfold from that point, but you’d be remiss not to spend a large amount of time exploring Bombay Beach (and puh-leaze, if you do nothing else while you're there, go to the Ski Inn and shoot some pool while knocking back a cold one. Do it for me).

Continue along hwy 111 until it curves inland from the Salton Sea. At Slab City, be on the lookout for Main St (If you hit 3rd, you’ve gone too far). Taking a left on Main, follow the road through Slab City until it curves into Beal Road. Put the pedal to the metal and fly over the desert floor, winding along Beal Road until you reach your second destination: Salvation Mountain.

I’m purposely leaving explanations here slim, as the appeal of a roadtrip is in the element of discovery. But if you’re one of those (dreadful) “I don’t like surprises” types, then your internet sleuthing abilities will no doubt suck all the joy right out of your weekend (and undoubtedly right out of anyone who has the unfortunate pleasure of your company). Er, but if you want to do more research, be my guest (curmudgeon). (Additional note--since I can't seem to see the forest for the parenthesis--I'd surely suggest a little Soulsavers aural action during this part of the trip. Trust me on this one.)

I'll leave you with a suggested playlist for your journey, but get thee to a grocery store, my dears. Buy at least three gallons of water, and get on the road! Something worth exaggerating over awaits you, and I wouldn’t want you to miss a single second. Not even for nuclear explosion.

1. Way Out West - Andrew Bird
2. Stand (Larry Levan Mix) - Celestial Choir
3. Revival - Soulsavers
4. Overture - Patrick Wolf
5. No Cars Go - The Arcade Fire
6. Do You Remember The Riots (orchestral version) - Jens Lekman
7. Introduction - Voxtrot
8. Grandma Airplane - Black Lipstick
9. Only One Thing Is Needed - Electrelane
10. Let My Burden Be - Golden Shoulders
11. Staring At The Sun - TV on the Radio
12. Sunlight Bathes Our Home - Clinic
13. Magic Hands - Black Fiction

Or...69 Love Songs by Magnetic Fields. Or Godspeed You! Black Emperor's EXCELLENT "Storm: Lift Yr Skinny Fists..." from start to finish.

Happy Trails...