Salvation Mountain and Slab City

We set out from Bombay Beach headed towards Slab City. Slab City, referred to as The Last Free Place in America, is an “off the grid” community not far from the Salton Sea. We took a slight detour along the way, and ended up exploring a large abandoned warehouse. After I had my fill of graffiti and asbestos, we hit the road once again towards our original destination.

The land that Slab City sits on was once a military training facility. The site has long been decommissioned and remains uncontrolled.The concrete slabs that remain from its military use are what gives the unofficial city its name.

There is no electricity, water, or trash service. But hundreds of people call Slab City home in winter months. There’s a community library, multiple camps, hostels, and even an internet cafe. I felt like a bit of an oogle passing through, but it was cool to see the handmade community that is Slab City.

Bombay Beach

Our next stop was one of the original Salton Sea resort towns. Incorporated in 1929, Bombay Beach was once a popular tourist destination. When the tourists left, so did local businesses and most residents. In the years since, large parts of the town have been destroyed by flooding. But there is still a small population living in town.

We drove in, and passed the Ski Inn and a small market – which were the only two open businesses we saw. We parked on the far side of town and set out on foot to explore. As we walked through abandoned trailers and houses, littered with trash and covered in graffiti, the only sounds we heard were our own footsteps and the wind. The whole scene seemed post-apocalyptic. My kinda place… Next up, Slab City.

The Salton Sea

A few days ago, Alanna and I took off into the desert for an impromptu honeymoon road trip. Along the way, we stopped at the Salton Sea. After all, what better place to honeymoon than a beach resort town? There’s just one catch – while once a thriving vacation hot spot, towns around the Salton Sea are now mostly abandoned. Bear with me for a quick history lesson…

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In 1905, the Colorado River broke its levees and flooded the Salton Sink. The flooding created the largest lake in California – the Salton Sea. With its creation, the Salton Sea brought birds, fish, and other wildlife to the desert. Developers soon followed, and built resorts, golf courses, hotels, yacht clubs, and homes along the shore. People flocked from all over to visit the “miracle in the desert.”

But it was short-lived. By the 1970s, lack of rainfall and pollution from nearby farms, coupled with increased salinity and a lack of oxygen in the water, took a toll on the fragile ecosystem. The fish died off, the birds left, and shortly after that, the tourists left.

Nowadays, the shores are largely abandoned. The beaches are empty and the sunbathers have been replaced by fish skeletons. The sand is a mixture of salt and bone fragments. And there’s nobody there. When Alanna and I stopped at Mecca Beach, we were the only two people on the beach. No swimmers, no water-skiers, no boaters. It was quiet – and a bit surreal.

Here’s the first batch of photos from the trip. Next stop, Bombay Beach

Trash Trail to Train Wreck

I’ve been up in Whistler, BC for the past few days for the yearly Automattic Grand Meetup. This morning, a few of us hiked along Trash Trail to a Train Wreck (which, while a great tagline for an autobiography, is actually the real name of the trail). The trail followed along the Cheakamus River,which presented several beautiful photo ops.

Our destination, across a suspension bridge perfect for a cartoon villain to cut, was a half dozen wrecked Canadian Pacific boxcars. The boxcars were covered with graffiti, which combined two of my favorite things – nature and people who write on things that don’t belong to them.

“So What?” and “Who Cares?”

I often find myself hesitating. Hesitating to press “Publish” on a blog post. Hesitating to share a picture. Hesitating to suggest an idea.

I enjoy writing, but I don’t write on my blog often. What if everyone thinks this post is lame? Or a shameless grab for attention? Or, maybe even worse, what if I actually receive attention? There are plenty of better writers out there than me anyways…

I enjoy taking photos, but I don’t share them often enough. The exposure is off. The sky is washed out. The shadows are grainy. There are plenty of better photographers out there…

I have unique experiences, but I tend to keep a guard up. I’m sure it’s a bit of Impostor Syndrome. Maybe it’s because I barely graduated high school. What if I come across as uneducated? What if I reveal too much about myself? What if I overuse italics?

I’ve been trying to be more mindful of these thoughts lately. And I’ve been trying to challenge them when appropriate.

If someone thinks this post is lame… so what? I have unique thoughts and experiences, and odds are, at least someone will enjoy reading about them.

If the sky is washed out in a photo… who cares? No one is going to judge me based on an overexposed photo. And if they do, they’re probably a lousy jerk anyways.

I suppose these thoughts are part of something bigger. At 29, I’m realizing that I’m not a kid anymore. I have the freedom to determine what’s important to me. And I’m starting to figure those things out.

With that, I’m trying to figure out what’s preventing me from making those things a priority. Often times, it’s the hesitation that’s holding me back. The fear of judgment. The fear of failure, or imperfection.

But really… who cares?


The photo at the top is one that I took a few months ago. It was one of my first attempts at shooting star trails. It’s grainy and the exposure is wrong.

Guinness Storehouse & 360 Bar

This post has been sitting in my drafts for too long… Back in April, we visited the Guinness Storehouse and 360 Bar while in Dublin. It turned out to be more of a beer themed amusement park, as opposed to a traditional brewery tour. But I had no problem with that, and it was a lot of fun. The 360 bar at the top was packed, but it offered a great view of the city.

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Trinity College

While in Dublin, we also had a chance to visit Trinity College. Trinity College was founded in 1592, and its alumni includes Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett among many others. The campus was beautiful, and my favorite part was the Long Room. The Long Room is part of the Old Library, and it houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. Due to the low light, it was hard to get a good picture, but you can see a few in the gallery below.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. – Oscar Wilde

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Glendalough

On our last full day in Ireland, a few of us took an hour and a half bus ride from Dublin to Glendalough. Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland. In addition to its natural beauty, it’s also home to an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century.

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A Week in Dublin

I just spent a week in Dublin, Ireland with some of my coworkers/friends. We worked, we talked, and we had a lot of fun exploring the city. I put some serious miles on my Fitbit, and snapped a few hundreds of pictures along the way. Here’s the first batch…

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Monrovia Station – Then and Now

The new Monrovia Gold Line station has been a recent interest of mine. The platform is adjacent to the old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot. The Santa Fe depot was built in 1923 to replace a wooden structure that was built in 1886 by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad. This station was one of many stops along the westward expanding railroad system. It remained in service until 1972, and has since been abandoned.

I recently came across some old photos of the Monrovia Station, so I decided to try and recreate them. With the new construction surrounding the old depot, it was hard to get the same exact angles. But I managed to get a few that were close.

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