Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.
I’ve been getting some fascinating emails for the past couple of days, maybe from one of the readers here, maybe from one of the Toyota RV forums I’ve been visiting to learn about problems and solutions encountered by others who have more experience with this particular method of escaping reality.
I retired in 02. A friend happened to see a little clip about the slabs on TV one night and told me he had just heard about a place that he thought I’d like. I googled it and agreed. A couple weeks later I loaded up my old 1971 Volvo 144 and left Tennessee for the slabs. I spent a magic 10 days out there living under a bush on a hammock. Meeting people who were, like me, searching for adventure and fun. In that short time, I found everything that a man could want. And for the next 10 years I have returned again and again. I have spent winters out there in motorhomes and tents. It dosen’t matter. Every visit has been good.
There are several clubs on the slabs. I belong to the Oasis club. There is also the Traveling Pals Club and LOWS, Loners on Wheels Club. Everybody fits in somewhere. There is no mayor, There is no law. (The imperial county sheriffs and CHP do come onto the slabs if there is a problem.) There is an anarchy that functions, a collective justice system that operates that seems to do the job. If someone is behaving in a manner that is unacceptable, a group pressure will build and build until that person decides to change or to go elsewhere.
There is the Range, a magic spot on Saturday night where musicians come and people come and best of all it is free.A big party under the stars. It is hard to describe. When you are there and the music is playing and people are dancing and you just know that you are in the best place that you could be even if you could be anywhere else. Magic.
The 1 mile square abandoned military base that is the slabs has been settled in different areas. East Jesus, an art colony, is situated in the NE corner. The LOWS in on the opposite SW corner. There is a Canadian area on the south central side. After a while you will know it like a monopoly board. And wait until the first time you find yourself lost at night walking across the slabs in an endless maze of campers and cresote bushes. You will soon learn to recognize the local landmarks, the blinking lights on the towers in nearby Niland, or the lights of the prison located about 6 miles south of the slabs..
Many people hear of the slabs and drive into it for a look see. You can spot them a mile away. Eyes wide, windows up, they’ll circle a few “blocks” and then drive out, never stopping and speaking to a “local”. They can’t get by the the ultra casual dress “code” of the slabs, but appearances are misleading. There is no average person at the slabs. Everybody there is special with a story that is usually bigger than life. At night, by the campfires, the stories gradually materialize until you begin to know these individuals. And then you are hooked.
Just from the litle we’ve talked, I feel that you would find that you fit in there just fine. Its not perfect. There are some bad people there. Outlaws, fugatives. But you can be sure they are keeping a low profile. Amazingly, there are plenty of women there, too. Its really hard to describe, it would take a book, and it changes every year. We will be going out there again this winter (my new wife and I). This time we are going to rent a motor home that is parked out there and just drive our car out-which should save enough gas money to pay for the rental.
Oh ya, forgot to mention the nearby town, Niland. It has a lot of support for the winter campers. There are 2 stores in town, May’s that has about everything you might need. food, meat counter, beer and liquor, drinks, bread, toilet paper and even some hardware, and Mike’s Store, he has less but also has shorter lines. I go to them both. There are 3 restaurants in town. Balestero’s that serves great mexican food, and pretty good hamburgers. They also have a bar and a pool table. Across the street there is Uncle D’s Pizza Shop that also serves breakfast. And there is a new restaurant further North on rt. 111, Buckshot I think, that serves pretty good stuff. . There is a laundromat. And a flea market at the “fair grounds” that operates on the weekends. Vendors are moving through every so often so its good to run by there once in a while. There is also a public health building there that treats less serious medical problems. And a gas station that fills propane tanks, too.
8 miles south of Niland is a town names Calpatria. It has a library with internet, a donut shop, and a great hardware store. Also auto parts, and more. You will have to drive another 10 miles south to get to Brawley and the nearest walmart. You can get just about anything in Brawley, but if all else fails, another 10 miles south to El Cantro where I think you could find anything.
Being California, there are a million nearby things to do. trails to hike, roads to drive, hot springs to bask in. It just occurred to me that you might be more interested in this than my earlier description.
If the distance weren’t so great, the money so dedicated to various other priorities I’d be sorely tempted to spend some time there. But Slab City’s 1250 miles from Kerrville, Texas. At current gas prices I could spend half a months pension check getting there. And there’s no telling what manner of bowling balls the Coincidence Coordinators would throw into the route to distract me along the way, have me taking all manner of routes elsewhere.
Slab City links:
The Slab City Library entrance
Inside the Library
The Doooooowey Decimal System