I’m still saving the places I want to go on this next trip in Google Maps into the Want to Go list. Someday I’ll organize those Google Map lists. I’m also using Trello with its new map feature and browser button; I’m liking it so far.
I’m at the most fun part in the trip planning now, Playing Maps. I just start looking around on the satellite map, always the satellite map. I’ll find something near an attraction I’ve marked, or I’ll notice something odd on the satellite photo, some weird geological feature or some human-made thing out in the middle of nowhere or even a town with an unusual name (like Dunmovin and Santa Claus), and I’ll find out what it is and maybe make it a consideration.
I do this even when I’m not planning a trip. I was delighted to learn there’s a show about it, What On Earth. I guess Playing Maps isn’t all that unusual.
One thing that stands out on the satellite map in Far Southwest is the Salton Sea. It’s a big body of water just lying out there in the desert. I’ve seen a few shows about it. It’s not necessarily the safest place, environmentally, but I think it’s ok if you don’t live there. It does have a Salton Sea Visitor Center, some restaurants, and the International Banana Museum.
Southeast of the Salton Sea is a huge swath of farmland that stretches all the way to Mexico (and continues into Mexico), really stands out in the desert, might have to have a look at that. Out in the middle of the crops are scattered a few towns and a state prison.
Dragging the map around, I see a place nearby, across some desert farmland from the Salton Sea, a town I suppose, called Slab City. The name intrigues me. So I zoom down.
I notice Salvation Mountain and look into that. It appears to be a mountain that someone painted that’s become a tourist attraction. Always a sucker for a weird tourist attraction, I add it to the map.
Google Maps shows several restaurants, motels, and nightclubs in Slab City. Most of them have photos too. Weird photos. The restaurants are plastic chairs scattered around on the desert ground. The motel photos are of trash piles. The nightclubs have chairs and old couches with the stuffing coming out spread out under tarps. And there’s a Slab City Library, an internet cafe, a cat hostel, and a skate park. They all appear to be graffitied ruins or shacks with rusted parts hanging from the walls. There’s a 360 photo of the library that shows that there are some books there. After a little research, the place appears to be an artists’ community and also a squatters’ town. Apparently, anyone can move there, throw up a tent or build a house from tin and cinder blocks with no concerns to permits or land ownership and live there tax-free.
They also have a hot spring! Reviews say it’s dirty and is often filled with naked hippies, and the water is very hot. It’s the desert though; I would be more surprised by a cold spring.
The part of town on the north end of Slab City is called East Jesus. Says it’s an art center. A 360 photo shows it to be pretty darn artsy. Northeast of East Jesus is West Satan. Says it’s an art gallery. The few photos from West Satan show it looks basically like East Jesus, but with less art and more dogs. Both places got decent reviews and apparently also provide lodging of some sort.
I’ve saved it all to the map.