Desert Roadtrip: Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, and more!

There are a lot of peculiar places in the desert and if you know which stones to uncover you will discover some bizarre hidden gems. From San Diego, LA, Joshua Tree, or anywhere in southern California, make your way to Palm Springs for lunch time. It’s a perfect jump off spot for your desert roadtrip. The Sandwich Spot [240 N Palm Canyon Dr Palm Springs, CA 92262] is your place, and everyone else’s, for grabbing lunch. It’s going to be packed, but the zippy line will give you a minute to figure out what you want to order. The menu is broad with great options. On such a hot day we wanted something light and went with a BLT.

DSCN0947It hit the spot, and before we knew it we were back on the road in search of something sweet. Less than an hour away you’ll find the International Banana Museum [98775 CA-111, Mecca, CA 92254], a roadside attraction where any banana lover will have a ball. Peruse the odd memorabilia, play the slot machine, then have a sit at the bar.

DSCN1193 DSCN1198The real reason for visiting are is for the tasty banana treats such as sundaes and shakes. If you’re with a friend get a shake to split, they’re sweet and delicious, but you’ll be having another fruit shake later so don’t fill up too much! Next stop is a quick hop down the road to take a walk about the strange and slightly smelly Salton Sea [100-225 State Park Rd, Mecca, CA 92254]. This used to be a resort town full of bathers and boaters in the 50s, but due to the increasing salinity of the lake most towns have been abandoned. From a distance you’ll see a picturesque beach.

DSCN1151Walk closer and you’ll see everything is not as it seems. For starters, the sand is made up of brittle fish bones.

DSCN1156You’ll most likely find a scattering of dead fish and piles of salt along the shore. The sea is a haven for birds with over 400 species documented, a paradise for birders.

DSCN1160Walk along the shore and dig the scene, once you’ve had your fill of fun in the heat get back in the car and take a drive just over a half hour down the road to Salvation Mountain [Beal Rd, Niland, CA 92257]. Whether it is a religious visit or just a groovy experience the man made mountain is truly a spectacle to see. Bright rainbow colors light up the dull desert scene, and hippies sit back and watch the show.
DSCN1167Let your exploration begin: follow the yellow brick road up to the top and take in the view of the acres of nothing around you, except for Slab City – the nearby commune.
DSCN1171Make sure to head inside the pastel painted passageways, where you’ll probably find people posing for pictures.

DSCN1181The whole place doesn’t take too long to circumnavigate, but it isn’t a sight you will soon forget and it holds a message that you should always remember, ‘Love is Universal’ – amen to that!

DSCN1183You might be growing an appetite by now, so an hour back in the direction you came from you’ll find Shields Date Garden [80-225 U.S. Highway 111, Indio, CA 92201-6599], a great place to end your roadtrip. This date farm has a lot of interesting facets.

DSCN1146If dinner is hot on your mind, there is fine food and service to be found. You have a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Try a bacon wrapped date as an appetizer, remember it’s a date farm!

DSCN1125I got fish tacos and guacamole which were great, and Jeff got a pulled pork sandwich that the scarfed down. After dinner take a look in the big gift shop where you can find dessert. A date shake is in order, your second fruit shake of the day. Over 90% of America’s dates are grown in this area and you can test out different varieties of grown. You’ll find date related gifts for everyone back home in the shop. When you’re finished browsing head into the short movie where you’ll learn all about dating.

DSCN1131Don’t leave Shields without taking a walk through the garden.

DSCN1133DSCN1138It’s a true oasis. Beautiful simply to view for nature lovers, but it may hold even more meaning for religious people. An outlandish desert adventure has come to an end, finish your shake in the car and enjoy the ride home.

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