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The Traveling Native // Salvation Mountain, Salton Sea & The Slot

Creativity is an expression of each and every individual. We all are creative and we all have the capacity to explore and foster that side of us that seeks to live outside the lines that define our lifestyles. I find that travel allows me to nurture and influence the way I experience the world around me, thus impacting my creative expressions through the work that is put out through THE CROWN COLLECTIVE.

Travel has changed dramatically from what I had learned growing up. Travel has become more than just arriving; it has become an experience of living. The definition of travel as I understand it now is the process of letting go; letting go of what you know and what you are comfortable with in exchange for accepting a shift in your perspective and expanding your sense of openness emotionally, mentally and physically. What I have also learned is that traveling does not necessarily mean leaving to a far away land. Traveling is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that captures the essences of being intentional, conscious and connected.

One of the things I enjoy about living in Los Angeles is that within 3 hours in any direction, access to mountains, deserts and water (Pacific Ocean and rivers) are in reach. A place that I have been meaning to explore was a place called Salvation Mountain, about 3.5 hours southeast of LA. Traveling to Salvation Mountain, The Slot and ultimately heading back to the town that I grew up just north of San Diego was a spontaneous trip that I was able to take with a friend of mine on a hot and sunny Monday afternoon. We left at 3 am to make our way towards the Sonoran Desert to experience Salvation Mountain; and for those who don't know what that place is, it's hand-made piece of art made from paint, hay and clay that was created by one man's devotion to God

Salvation Mountain // 6 AM

Driving to Salvation Mountain as the sun began to rise was a visually beautiful thing to experience. The yellow hue of the sun emerging behind the mountains to our east and being able to see the expansive view of California's largest lake to our west was really unbelievable. There's a quiet beauty of being in the middle of the desert; cream-white sands scattered with dry shrubs, heat that warms your skin in an activating and energizing manner and unexpected encounters with coyotes and other desert-dwelling animals are all things I value when traveling through the desert lands of the country.

Salvation Mountain is a place that is one to experience directly. We had the honor of meeting Ron, the current caretaker of Salvation Mountain and spent the morning with him learning about how it all came to be and current actions to preserve the artistic creations of Leonard Knight, a man who devoted his life to God through the art of hay, adobe and paint.

For all who know me, I am a sucker for animals. This bunny now lives at Salvation Mountain after getting out of a cage according to Ron. There are also cats owned by Leonard Knight who are now taken care of by Ron. There is Jo Kitty, Jo Mama and some other ones hanging around.

It is incredible what people can do for what they are passionate about and Salvation Mountain is a true reflection of that.

Our time with Ron at Salvation Mountain was insightful and it always ceases to amaze me the stories of how people and places came to be. During our talk, Ron was pulling apart the mountain to renovate and take care of pieces that were falling apart. As he was going through his work, he uncovered some pieces of the original painting and creations of Leonard. He then offered those pieces for us to take home with us. Ron also shared with us some interesting details about this historical landmark while we were laying down on the yellow brick road.

From stories about tourists from around the world to how Salvation Mountain was filmed in Coldplays' "Birds" video and the movie "Into the Wild" by Sean Penn, this place is a true piece of art found in the most unlikely of places.

If there is one thing that I can share with others that I continuously learn from is that being open and curious about people, places and everything else in between, will help you grow in ways that allow for compassion, understanding and appreciation. Get to know where people come from and why they do is the biggest gift you can give not only to them, but for yourself as well.

Salton Sea // 9:30 AM

After we said our goodbyes, we made our way to check out the Salton Sea. It was a quick trip there due to the smell of the dead fish and overpowering heat of the desert sun. The Salton Sea is the largest Californian Lake that was accidentally created from the flow of the Colorado River. It is really a beautiful place to drive by on the way to Salvation Mountain and the sheer oddity of this place warrants a stop to at least check it out.

The Slot // Noon

Traveling to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks in New Mexico and getting to experience Antelope Canyon in Arizona, I started becoming interested in slot canyons and came to awareness that there was one located in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The drive out there was completely beautiful as we passed through Ocotillo Wells and the sand dunes. Hiking The Slot was similar to Kasha-Katuwe in terms of color and similar to Antelope Canyon in terms of ease of hike. The Slot is accessible and if you plan to go, once you park in the circle lot at the very end of the sand road, the trail head is down a steep walk where all the footprints are. I was grateful to share this experience with Lauren and being able to be part of her journey in experiencing The Slot and other parts of this day-long exploration

Julian // 2 PM

It was safe to say that after a full day of travel, we earned our first true meal of the day: chicken pot pies and apple pies from Julian, CA. When I was growing up, I have a memory of going to Julian with my family to eat apple pies (it is what they are known for). Julian is a quiet town that has the charm of a small, American city. It is nestled in the mountains surrounded by lush trees, quaint shops and founded on a mining city during the days of the Gold Rush. Our time there was a nice and slow moving exploration through the tasting of apple juice, apple pies and shopping in small, vintage shops off of Main Street. We even had time to check out a bookshop set up in a home that had old books that reminded me of my childhood days. Illusion posters on the walls and the abundance of vintage books on hand for purchase was a step back in time.

Escondido // 5 PM

We finally made it to my childhood home after I drove through town to show Lauren some places that formed and influenced my teenage years. From places I use to work to where I had my first date with my husband, I had the opportunity to share moments of my life with Lauren that made me who I am today. It's always interesting to go home. Nostalgia is one facet to my experience when I head home to a place that had a big influence on my formative years. After a quick nap, time with the parents and drinks with a high school friend, we drove back to LA.

After a long day pushing 21 hours from when we first started, I reflect on what a fun trip it was to get away and explore some places not too far from Los Angeles. Exploring to create is a fundamental element that grounds THE CROWN COLLECTIVE in terms of creative inspiration and trips like this definitely have an influence on the work that is created in future events. It is safe to say that today was a good day.

Dedication of this Blog // Lauren Murdock & David Brown

Thank you for all that you both do to foster exploration, travel and creativity

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