Bombay Beach is a census designated place. It is a recognized place, but it really isn't. There is no municipal government that looks after its people, and it is only legitimized for statistical purposes. It's generally forgotten. There were 300 people that lived there in 2010, but that population dropped after the flood. Maybe the few that still live there like it that way. As I walked down the streets plastic bags drifted by, dogs barked behind empty fences, and abandoned houses stood spilling their forgotten contents into the front yard. I can only describe it as eerie to be in a place that once thrived with community, and now only a few years later sits desolate, virtually abandoned. Yet the few people I did see on the street riding golf carts and bicycles smiled pleasantly and waved and my very surface level understanding and a short afternoon in Bombay Beach made them all the more intriguing.
I had packed a backpack when I headed to the states, there were hiking boots next to high heels and a tent next to a sequin dress. The strangest packing job I've ever done. The plan was to attend WPPI in Vegas (a photography conference and a party for photographers) and then camp the Grand Canyon.
Except nothing ever goes as planned.
At WPPI I met James, Shane, and Ben all the way from Australia. They knew Brian, a South African who I know from living in Victoria and my travel partner for the trip. James had a car and the five of us, an international gang of recently acquainted photographers hit the road. (after the party of course, but before the conference was over.)
I had gotten an iPhone a week before the trip so this was the first time I really used the camera and started to understand what Instagram is all about. You can follow the trip from my perspective here .
It was fun, road trips always are. We saw the Salton Sea, but smelled it first, completely dead with its beach of rotting fish. We watched the landscape in Joshua Tree National Park fade into the night. We paid for gas and were so distracted taking pictures at the gas station we forgot to fill up, got back on the highway, and still had an empty tank. We crossed a federal checkpoint in the middle of the California desert, which really made no sense, and the guard told us we were at the border about to head into Mexico. It took everyone a second to process he was joking.
These are my photos from the road, and a few of the short stops on our trip.