Dec 1, 2014

A Pilgrimage to the Desert

By the time you read this I'll already be cruising through Southern California on my next photo journaling / video shooting adventure. And while it may sound like a nice vacation, the reasoning behind the trip is actually something far more substantial and has been a long time coming. 

In 2011, after the death of my close friend Dave, I began talking about Searching Salvation - a personal video project I wanted to create. Dave and I had taken road trips down to California in 2009 and 2010, both of which had become pretty memorable events in our friendship. The following year he passed unexpectedly and naturally my memories of him centered on these major road trips we took.

Our visit to Salvation Mountain near the Salton Sea in Southern California was an especially significant stop. It was one of those places we knew very little about beforehand, but the timing and mood during the visit made the experience seem almost euphoric. We spoke to Leonard Knight one on one, the creator of this artistic mountain in the desert, and his passion was equally contagious. If you've seen the movie Into the Wild you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about. Sadly, Leonard has also passed now.    

So why the return visit? For several years I've talked about wanting to retrace the steps I took with Dave on our final trip. Not only did I shoot video during our initial road trip, but I'd passed off one of my cameras to Dave so that he could shoot footage as well. I found myself inspired to create a short film about what our visit to Salvation Mountain meant, and how the memory of that place became crucial in my own grieving in the months that followed. Losing a close friend so young was devastating for all of us in our social circle, but my memories of the road trips we took are nothing but positive. In the years that have followed I've grown and had lots of time to think about how the loss changed me. I've also been recharged by the fact that Dave and I even created those memories in the first place.

My decision to go now was ultimately a spontaneous one made several weeks ago. After the experience I had in driving through Alberta's Rockies this summer, I felt compelled to do this road trip solo - flying down and then driving through the desert for a week. I'm thinking of the trip as a way to relive some personal memories, but it's also a bit of a pilgrimage to put the last few years of my life into perspective as well. So, it really is going to be an adventure - one that I've waited several long years to finally take.