I Believe in Miracles (or, Life in the Old Dunes)

We have long been admirers of the forgotten places in this world, the abandoned and destitute. There is strong magic out there where civilization has withdrawn and left the wild to reclaim what belongs to it. You can feel it in the sand beneath your feet, smell it in the brine air. We haven’t come to take it, we whisper–just to visit.

We left early in the morning to drive southeast from San Gabriel. Windows down and shades on, we glide along highways mostly empty of traffic and race against the sun’s inexorable crawl toward its noon peak. The drive is long, but not unpleasant. We are filled with a quiet expectation, filled with the stories that have passed into legend about the Salton Sea.

If a traveler isn’t weary sometimes, they are no traveler

There are only a few destinations set in stone for our trip. Salvation Mountain and Slab City feature prominently (and we will talk about them at length in future entries), but above all we wanted to take in the general atmosphere. This place has bones we want to trace with our fingers.


This place is the slowest moving disaster in the world. It is a crisis that flows like molasses, as what could have been an oasis melts into a massive environmental tragedy. The phantom of promise still lingers here with an undeniable gravity. We press on. Come with us.