You’re on part two of a four part series. If you need to read part one, click here.
On the second day of our road trip we woke up and took our time getting ready and getting on the road. The great thing about being on a spontaneous vacation like this is that we don’t have a schedule to stick to so we aren’t feeling hurried at all. For our breakfast we grabbed some cheap and small breakfast burritos to go, and also ate some of the fruit that we had brought with us. Cheap and easy.
The first stop was a little town called La Quinta. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting as we headed into the downtown area – something older maybe. However it was very nice and we even found a playground for the kids to get some energy out on.
Near the playground was a baseball field and a couple of historical museums. We were almost right up against the mountains. We really wanted to explore them but we couldn’t find a way to get onto them. They were surrounded by No Trespassing signs.
After our brief playground break, we headed back on the open road. We drove through Indio, which is where they have the Coachella Music Festival each year, and even saw some people playing on the polo fields with their horses. I was able to point out some of the places I remember from the weekend I spent at the Coachella Festival 10 years prior. It hasn’t changed much at all. We filled up with gas in a tiny town down the road a little more.
There are a lot of date trees in this area, and where there are date trees there are places to buy date shakes. I had heard about date shakes before, and almost bought one when were driving through Dateland, Arizona a couple of years ago but the line was way too long and we had to get home. When we saw the signs for Oasis Date Gardens I knew I had to stop and get a shake. And while I was in line I grabbed a slice of Date Nut Bread too. Because, why not?
I ordered one shake and slice of date bread. The couple in line in front of me gave me a coupon for a free 6oz shake, so I used that as well so the kids would have their own to share. My husband and I split the big one, although we shared some of it with the kids too. We could have easily each gotten our own shake, or two big ones to split up, but what we had was plenty, and I only spent $6.
At this point we were pretty close to the Salton Sea. So close, in fact, that I could smell it. FYI – it doesn’t smell very good. At all. But for some reason we decided it would be a fantastic idea to go the long way around it.
Our next stop was a place called North Shore Beach and Yacht Club. I have to say, it’s far from what you’d expect a Yacht Club to look like. But it was a perfect spot that wasn’t too far off the highway where the kids could get out and see the water. We even let them throw rocks in it, but kept them from actually touching it because man did it smell really bad. Regardless of the scent, we enjoyed our view.
With our legs nice and stretched we got back in the car and continued our scenic drive. There isn’t really much to look at though, until you get into Calipatria – all the way at the bottom of the sea. Luckily I tend to find beauty in even the ugliest of places.
Even though it seems pretty barren, there are lots of little towns (mostly run down) and some cool surprises along this route. One of those cool surprises we found was Salvation Mountain.
Salvation Mountain can be found in a tiny little town called Niland. It’s basically a big hill made from adobe clay, straw, sticks, and gallons upon gallons of paint. So much paint. Not only can you climb on it, you can go around, behind, and inside of it. There are caves and passageways and nearly every inch is covered in messages of love and inspiration. The pictures don’t really do it justice, and I think it’s just better if you can go see it.
(Shortly after we visited, the artist who created Salvation Mountain passed away.)
We spent a good amount of time exploring the mountain. I made PB&J sandwiches for everyone, nursed the baby, and walked around and took it all in. It was pretty cool experience. Once we were done there we continued down the dirt road to find Slab City, which is another very unique place.
Slab City is located on the abandoned World War II Marine barracks of Camp Dunlap. It gets its unique name from the slabs that were left after the buildings were torn down and everything was sold off. Because the land really has nothing of value to offer, the area is just left alone by the government. Back in the 60’s people started using it as a free RV campground. A few brave people started living there, and it soon grew into quite the community. There are no utility services, and all power comes from the sun.
Folks have to go into town to buy food and water to bring it back to their homes. I saw a few on bicycles and scooters doing just that. I’m not too sure what they do about their waste, but I didn’t want to stop anyone to ask. From looking around I would guess that the residents of Slab City are resourceful, peaceful, and not at all wasteful.
At this point in our journey, just about every single one of us had to use the rest room. It had been a while since we had seen even gas station, let alone a public restroom. Luckily, just a couple of miles down the highway we found a great rest stop. It was the perfect place for a game of hide and seek.
It was also the perfect place for us to decide where we were going to stay that night. I pulled my phone out and searched my hotels.com app. (I love that darn site and I am so close to earning my free night stay!) I found a room in the next major city for only $50. I’m not too fond of putting my bank card information out there on my phone so I was glad I had a MasterCard brand gift card. It totally worked! It’s empty now, so don’t bother trying to steal the card number!
For some reason I didn’t take any more pictures after this point. (Hmm, I must have been tired or something!) We drove through Salton City which was a little out of our way, but we wanted to see it. It was too dark to get good pictures, but we found a big gas station and grabbed a couple of snacks to hold us over until dinner. We made it to our hotel and checked in around 6:00 pm and then the kids started to melt down. We had a delicious dinner in a local Mexican restaurant that felt more like someone’s house than an actual restaurant.
On our way back to the hotel we drove though a Raspados stand and got the most delicious desserts. We could barely eat them, but they were so amazing I’m glad we stopped. I didn’t snap a picture because I was driving, but they are kind of like a homemade fruit slushy, but creamy and with fresh fruit on top. Seriously go get one right now if you can.
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A Spontaneous $600 Family Road Trip – Part Three