Traveling alone Salton Sea – Bombay Beach | Gourmet party! | Laura Stec
By Laura Stec
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A good way to dip your feet into solo travel is on a combo trip; one that mixes delicious personal moments alone with those of family and friends. This is how this trip was organized. I was meeting people in Joshua Tree National Park, sandwiched between solo flights.
First a cold shower in the morning on a hot desert morning – the sunlight peeks through the wooden slats of the stalls, simultaneously warming the skin chilled by the water. I feel alive. Left Mecca Beach and drove south along the long white shore in unknown California. There isn’t much there. I had no intention of stopping along the way – but welcome to solo travel. You can stop anywhere, anytime. Our job is to be attentive when the energies are calling us. Road trippers accelerate straight ahead, never leaving the car. Travelers see the world as a living map. Spend as much time as you want finding the secret keys. No one distracts you. No one needs more.
I buzzed past a sign in the road, but traveler intuition turned me around. What is this place ? The journey is the destination.
Indeed – oh my god. According to Wikipedia, Bombay Beach is the lowest community in the United States – 223 feet (68 m) below sea level. It was the desert getaway for Hollywood playboys like Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack and the Beach Boys. Years later, a degraded sea turned people away and it became a ghost town. Until recently, when Bombay Beach began to rise from its ashes. “An influx of artists, intellectuals and hipsters has turned it into a bohemian playground.” –The Guardian.
There was too much noise for a ghost town that morning. Something was happening. The only restaurant/bar in town was packed, the infamous ski hostel. A live band was playing outback.
Question: Where do travelers go to find the local scoop in town?
Answer: Classic traveler move: find a local bar, order a drink, start asking questions.
“You were lucky,” said the guy on the stool next to me. “This weekend is the Bombay Beach Biennale,[aBurningMan-esquefestivalwithinternationalartistswhoarecommissionedtoexhibitExclusivebutpublicThere’snopromotionItonlyhappensonceeverytwoyears[unfestivalBurningMan-esqueavecdesartistesinternationauxquisontmandatéspourexposerExclusifmaispublicIln’yapasdepromotionCelan’arrivequ’unefoistouslesdeuxansAssurez-vousderevenircesoir[aBurningMan-esquefestivalwithinternationalartistswhogetcommissionedtoexhibitExclusivebutpublicThere’snopromotionItonlyhappensonceeverytwoyearsMakesureyoucomebacktonight”
Ok now – what are the odds? This is the part of the story where we start talking about the magic of solo travel, or the magic of the walker as it was called in The 1988 Peace Walk. Fun opportunities and random connections happen there – totally in tune with you and your surroundings.!
There was another band playing at the American Legion across town – lots of casual people having fun. Art installations (some live) were interspersed with abandoned houses and derelict trailers. Hide and seek for the healthy. Part junkyard, part art studio, wander the flat city streets and down to the beach, and find surprises everywhere.
A fake historical dig but who knew when you first approach?
Bombay Beach is a perfect example of a solo travel event, sometimes planned by your efforts and other times pleasantly by surprise: varied entertainment that is easy to feel comfortable doing alone: artistic detective, outdoor music, lots of walking, cycling, views, a local restaurant/bar. Lots of people to talk to too. Social kicks are important when traveling solo. but take it whenever you want. A good opening line is, Hi, I’m new in town, are you from here? If they say yes, you say, Tell me about your city, what should I see and do? They will talk to you for hours.
After hours of exploring Bombay Beach, it was time to find camp.
– Photos of the ELIC
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