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Thread: Bombay Beach

  1. #1


    Default Bombay Beach


    I live in San Diego. Possibly one of the best cities in the country. I can say this because I live here. And everyone that lives here says that. Usually preceding how they hate it because it costs so much to live here. In any case, we have the ocean, desert, mountains, and Mexico all within a 1-2 hour drive. I often am pulled towards the desert because it is so very different than San Diego itself. In San Diego you go to the beaches and see thousands of beautiful people and beautiful cars and whales and boats and coffee.....so much coffee. But the desert holds a different take on life. An absence of it actually. And I'm drawn to that. It is quiet. And peaceful. And forces perspective.

    So a friend was talking about the Salton Sea, which I had passed by on my way from Coachella a while back. I stopped briefly that time and wasn't impressed. Then a few years later I got into looking at urban decay images and things seemed a little more interesting. So my friend was talking about Bombay Beach and Slab City from a book he had just read called "Into the Wild". We pulled up a few pics of Bombay Beach online and immediately decided to go. Pictures of trailers sunk in the mud that were rotting away. In. Go. Now.

    We decided this in August. It's 120 degrees out there in August. Do you want to wander around in 120 degree heat when you can go look at beautiful people and beautiful cars and boats in the 70 degree heat? Nope. No way. Out. Don't go. Not now. Nope.

    Holiday break was interesting for me this year. Normally we get 2 weeks off from work for the factory shut down. I almost always drive myself to Montana on these breaks. Long drive in the ice and cold and snow. More time for reflection. This year, we decided not to go. So I had to figure out something new. Wait. What's the temp in the desert during the winter break? 70? Done. Back in. Let's go.

    It was a 2 hour drive to Bombay Beach from East County San Diego. East County is different that San Diego. It's hot. Not Borrego hot, but it's hot. We have horses out here, and guys drive around in their fake Baja trucks with their tattoos and their flat billed hats and we have hills. Mountains. Occasionally small amounts of snow. 2 hours from East County, we stop at a gas station for a bathroom since that coffee is great for a short period of time. I don't know what town we were in. Some place weird. With a random stray dog that was getting followed by a police car? No one was on the streets. Very strange.

    We go into the gas station and I decide to grab a Whatchamacallit. Simply because what is a road trip without Whatchamacallit? There were a thousand empty candy containers on the shelves. One bag of Skittles, and one Whatchamacallit. Score. I go to grab a water......no water. Only Monster. OK, fine. One Monster. OK, fine. Two Monsters. I take my Monster x 2 up to the counter with my candy bar and stand there for about 3 minutes. There was a TV on above the counter and it had 13% reception. Basically colored white noise with a random spurt of Jerry Springer blaring out. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! I look to my right and there is a fluffy brown wig. And a ski mask. Both on styrofoam heads. The type of ski mask you always see on gas station robbers. My imagination runs a bit and a guy behind me says "Monster, huh?" I turn around and a dude holding his bike is looking at my Monster x 2. He proceeds to tell me how he was riding his bike in the summer (120 degree summer) and got thirsty and didn't have any water. So he drank his Monster to quench his 120 degree thirst with Monster. Because there is no water in the desert. So he continues riding his bike and drinking his Monster and decides to have a heart attack. Fantastic. I contemplate taking one of my Monster x 2 back for a split second. Then decide to keep it. I may get thirsty. And there's no water.

    The cashier finally shows up, I pay, walk out, go to the bathroom past a kid on a BMX with a black hooded sweatshirt over his head. He's been sitting slumped over his handlebars since we arrived. I walk by and he looks at me through black sun glasses. I say "What's up man?" He just stares. The desert stare. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't.....you will. Some day.

    I get done in the bathroom and walk buy BMX guy again who is still staring. It's time to leave. Go. Now.

    Back in the car we get to Bombay Beach about 25 minutes later after going through a check point that I wasn't expecting. Drug dog around the car. Good. Go.

    We get to Bombay Beach. It's a very strange community. If you pull it up on Google satellite, it's maybe 5 blocks square. It's run down house, with run down house next door, with run down house next door, with a really, really nice house, stir, repeat, run down house, run down house......I'm trying to find a safe place to park the car. Do we park in front of the Baptist Church? No one will mess with the car there. OK, let's make another loop of the town to get our bearings and find the trailer. No idea where we are, or where to park. So we park at the entrance to the State Beach. The gate is locked. California went into some spending cuts this year and shut down a lot of state parks since it cost so much to keep them open. Especially in the desert. So we get all our gear, and hoof to the beach trying to find the trailer. The sunken trailer. Hoofing it over the barren landscape. Towards the water.





    The beach at Bombay Beach is disturbing. Its fluffy. I know, it doesn't make sense to call a beach fluffy. But it is. Crunchy. Fluffy. Your feet sink down in a crunchy pillow.

    The reason why it is fluffy and crunchy? The beach is not sand. No. It is fish bones. Years and years of decaying and salt preserved fish bones. And fish. I don't smell anything. But Kenn says it reeks.



    We wandered a while and I looked through my binoculars trying to find the trailer. I see a couple other people to the South, but I dunno where we are so I don't want to run into other people. Desert people are weird.

    Finally we decided to go South and came over a small crest to find a runoff stream. Notice that the water is red. If you can see the sand where someone tried to step in, the sand underneath the fish crust is pink. Pepto pink. What......the......heck.......



    Everything near the water is crusted in salt. Very thick layers of salt.



    Finally found another group of guys with cameras.



    I ask one of the guys if he knows where the trailer is. He says no, but the other guy with him has been here before. So I approach him and he points directly behind him. Sweet! Success.

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  3. #2


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    The trailers look nothing like they did in the images we saw online. I ask the guy about this and he said that they are continually sinking. Every year they get a little lower in the crunch. Fascinating. But, we are here.











    Apparently Megan was here, too.



    We were a bit let down. But it was actually pretty interesting. The trailers and structures are not simply sinking. But it appears as though people have been taking bits and pieces for whatever deviant reasons throughout the years. You can almost feel the ghosts of the people that have passed through this area. So, we finished up on the beach and decided to hit the town and walk through some of the run down houses. I've never done this before. I'm on edge. My imagination is a crazy, crazy old scared dude thinking he is going to get tied up with a spool of blue painters tape covered with duct tape since the painters tape wasn't strong enough and led down a tube and House of 1000 Corpses and The Hills Have Eyes and..........sigh. Let's do this.

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  5. #3


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    Everywhere you go in Bombay Beach, there are TVs. Broken. Husks. Like no one likes TV in Bombay Beach. Mustn't watch!



    Maybe because they have good reading material.









    This place was the one that really got my imagination roaring. Why would I want to enter a place that tells me to abandon all hope if I do. Where's Virgil? I need help. Kenn, you go first!



    And inside, after you have abandoned hope...



    Violence. Straight violence. Makes you wonder. I kept looking over my shoulder and waiting for someone to whack me over the head with a leg of lamb.

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  7. #4


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    Found a mirror. Took a pic:









    More mirrors!






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  9. #5


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    The last house was very distressed. We were inside taking pics and a car pulled up outside. Oh......great......We were in a back room, and heard 3 or 4 people approaching outside. Here comes the painters tape. No where to run. There was some graffiti on the wall that said "This is where I (shag) your (female dog)." One guy in the group keeps repeating this phrase. Over, and over, and over, and over. OK, so absurdly annoying guys with painters tape. We're doomed.

    I heard a girl in the group and she was all giggly. So I figured it can't be that bad, right. I walked around the corner and there were 3 dudes and one girl. All were wearing some form of American flag. One guy had super skinny red white and blue pants. One guy had an American Flag dew rag. One guy had a button up American Flag shirt. What.....the.....heck.......

    Ditch. Abort the mission. Immediately.

    But take a couple more pics of the house first.







    Walked back to the car and headed home. Saw a train and decided to try out my ND filter for the first time. After the engineer blasted my ears out I was able to get this.



    Overall it was a pretty cool trip. I'm not sure I'd want to go out there again. 2.5 hours each way. Some cool stuff to see and experience. But I wish we would have seen the trailers as they were in the pics we saw on line. But good times nevertheless.

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  11. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Tempe, AZ
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    Real Name
    Rick


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    Quite the outing and post- you were good if you could outrun Kenn :)


  12. #7


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    Quote Originally Posted by Lothe1961 View Post
    Third Picture really blew me away.
    The entire beach was littered with these fish carcasses. I believe it is Tilapia? Everywhere. And just bones. There was one 1ft section of vertebrate on the beach that still had some meat on it. Noooooo idea what animal that was. People still fish out there, too. For some reason I was thinking the water was poison.


  13. #8


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Rick View Post
    Quite the outing and post- you were good if you could outrun Kenn :)
    First rule of evading zombies. Run faster than your buddy.


  14. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    NorthWestern PA
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    4,468
    Real Name
    Bob


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    Sounds like quite an adventure - I think I would go for Montana. Great photos.
    Love mercy, do justice, walk humbly - Micah 6:8
    "A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words." Ansel Adams


  15. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    New Jersey
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    444
    Real Name
    Scott


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    Great photo essay, thanks.



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