This coming quarter of 2022, will be my third year out on Mars.
(They say - third time’s a charm, fingers crossed).
As I start to mentally prep for the annual pilgramage, I began to think about what I considered essential for my own survival out in the desert. And with that in mind, I’ve put together this master guide list, hoping it’s as useful to you, as it is for me - serving both as a reminder and checklist.
This isn’t a definitive guide but more a collection of things I wish I had known my first time out there as well as tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
All this is to say that I’m beyond excited by the prospect of being out in the desert oh - so - very - soon.
Can’t wait to see you all IRL!
Mars College takes place on an ancient dry lake bed in the Sonoran Desert, a few miles from Bombay Beach. We look keenly towards the principles of radical self-reliance, participation and communal effort to build and create our version of utopia called Mars.
Mars is located in the open desert close to the Salton Sea, flanked by the Chocolate mountains. Between Jan to end March / Early April, high season in the low desert, daytime temperatures tend to be around 80°F, with medium humidity.
Lip balm and lotion are your key to comfort. The Sun can be quite brutal, and I recommend coming equipped with a hat.
Apply sunscreen every morning and repeat as needed. There will be shaded areas in camp and consider laying low during the hottest part of the day. This is a good time to be cyber and shady activities are encouraged.
When the sun drops over the horizon, temperatures can quickly plummet 50 degrees. Overnight lows can be in the 40s, so bring warm clothing and a good sleeping bag.
Sometimes, there are Whiteouts. Visibility drops to zero. Try and get shelter. If not, just stay where you are and wait it out.
It takes everyone a minute to adjust to the desert climate.
Give yourself a day or two to aclimitise and ease in. Eat & Sleep well and STAY HYDRATED!
Mars College is set up in the open desert a few miles from the main town of Bombay Beach. There are clusters of shrubs, miles and mounds of sand, bunnies and occasional coyotes that one can hear periodically. They don’t venture towards the campsite, however, if walking through the desert alone after dark, carry a headlamp and fashion a staff out of the many scraps of wood you will find scattered around.
There have been reported sightings of snakes and scorpions - so look where you’re going and check your shoes before you slip them on, especially if they have been left outside.
When it starts to get warm, the flies come out and play. Amongst these is the Bombay beach Bomber - It’s a giant fly and it bites. You’ll know it when you see it. In the past, we’ve used bug / fly buzzers to zap them. Hopefully, your paths won’t cross. And if they do, it’s mostly a mild nuisance.
Bombay Beach can be reached through multiple ways.
The closest airport being Palm Springs. The cheapest airport is LAX, Los Angeles’ premiere airport. It is about a three hour drive from LAX to Bombay Beach and there can be heavy traffic. Previous Martians have travelled from LA to PSP. Flix bus services this route.
Carpooling works best, given the remote nature of Mars.
Please check in here to update and co-ordinate pickups.
This year, Mars will be decked out with showers, compost toilets, a working kitchen, water and shade. Venus (which is our ancillary compound in town, on 1st street street) has a washer and dryer for laundry. We set up a weekly laundry schedule so people can book a slot and use the facilities.
We usually do groceries one - twice a week for both communal and personal needs.
Indio (which is our closest town- 45 Mins away) has a Home Depot, Walmart etc. for any other essentials. Also, Amazon services Bombay Beach! Huzzah!
New Bombay Market in Bombay Beach offers some basics like snacks, an occasional fruit, beer, soda, etc.
With a little bit of planning, everything is within range.
Thinking about tasks, builds, food weekly instead of daily is part of the time shift of being out of Mars and soon you’ll find yourself in a nice rhythm and routine.
The desert awaits.