Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Slab City 2008

I left Peg Leg Smith at 8:30 AM and arrived at Slab City at noon. I had stopped in Brawley and checked out the new Super Wal Mart. This store is really large.
Slab City is not a city, it is a former World War 2 training area. Troops trained here for the Africa campaign. The buildings are gone, but the concrete slabs are still here. People have motor homes and trailers on the slabs.

Here are old, run down rigs and very expensive motor homes site by site. Some poor people, and people who want to get away from it all, live here all year. It gets very hot in the summer and not much fun being here then.

There is a place to take a shower. They tell me the water is very hot, as hot as it comes out of the ground.
I prefer to shower in the motor home.

We had a 4:00 PM circle meeting and plans were made for activities for the next few days. Randy and JoAnn are hosts. Randy has some good ideas.
At 6:00 PM I went over to the LOW (Loners on Wheels) area for dancing. They had invited us.

The LOWs have several trailers in their compound. The trailers stay all year. One trailer is a library, another trailer a game room.
I stayed only an hour.

After Hugs and Mugs we went on the Randy guided "Saints and Sinners" tour. We walked by the pet cemetery. All kind of animals have their final resting place there. Patricia’s bird is there too. It had a elaborate funeral, with a lot of people participating. I am told they all dressed up for the occasion.

The Saints portion of the tour started at Salvation Mountain, where Leonard Knight, for the last 25 years, has been building and painting the mountain.

Leonard was happy to see us and gave us the tour. His major theme is Love, not the sex kind. He enjoyed his part in the movie: "Into the Wild". Part of the movie was filmed in Slab City, and featured Leonard.
After the movie he got more visitors. I have been many times here but never went inside the area. I always looked at it from the road.
When we left, Leonard gave each of us a DVD: "A lifetime of Childlike Faith", telling his story.
He makes adobe from mud and straw and keeps on building.
He paints parts of the bible on the mountain and on his old trucks. There are many interesting characters at the slabs and Leonard is one of them.
From salvation Mountain we went to two large water storage tanks. From the distance a saw the beautiful female figures, drawn with a yellow outline. The figures were dancing.

When we came closer I noticed underneath gray figures. All around this large tank were couples in all possible sex positions, or impossible positions. The figures were bigger than life size.
The paintings were done by a good artist. When I was told who did it, I had a difficult time to believe it.
Tom is a WIN, he never participates with the group. He sometimes follows the group, but stays away a bit. Tom must have been inspired by Kama Sutra.
This was the Sinners part of the tour.
After our tour I drove to the library in Niland and got my E mail. Unfortunately Sharon and Bob, from who I got my E mail at Peg Leg Smith, are not here.
At the circle meeting, Linda Barnett, who is the unofficial mayor of this interesting place, answered our questions.
In the evening we went to the Chinese Restaurant in Niland. We had told them that we were coming. Still, they had a difficult time to bring the food out. Since we shared, it was no problem. We ate each dish as they came out of the kitchen.
This was a very interesting day.

After Hugs and Mugs, Randy, our leader, walked with us to the Slab City library. There are thousands of books, neatly stored on shelf units. It is a self service operation.

A volunteer takes care of the library in the winter.
Our next stop was the new canal. It is lined with concrete to conserve water.
We also stopped at the "Traveling Pals" club and talked to their president. They accept singles and couples.
Like the LOWs, they have permanent buildings on this government land.
We also took a look at the place where a lady made herself a home. It is shaded by a large tree. She has a lot of desert flowers and she keeps everything neat and organized.

After lunch I went to the library in Calipatria.
In the evening Bagpipe Bob cooked again potatoes in the camp fire. We all brought finger food, and Nelda had baked one of her famous cakes, but not her "Better than sex cake".
At 8:00 PM it started to get cool and we dispersed.

We had one of those extreme beautiful desert sunrises. I was up early and thoroughly enjoyed it.

After Hugs and Mugs we went to see Container Charley. He has a large shipping container, which was his home for a while. He added on some buildings, and the shipping container is now his shop.
Charley is a musician and an artist. He is a very interesting person, well educated, still young, and spent a small inheritance on solar equipment. He has enough solar panels to run an air conditioner.

A lot of the residents, who live all year at the slabs, do not have enough money for gasoline to run their generator.

Charley is also clean, not like some of the characters we saw on our way to his home.
On the way back we walked on Insane Wayne Boulevard. Insane Wayne was furloughed from prison to be in the "Into the Wild" movie. He was heavily guarded. Shortly after the movie was released he died.
His song about the slabs will live on though.

The names of the people who live around here are something else.
At 3:00 PM we had another ice cream social. Some of the women baked cakes, Nelda baked two.
Solar Mike came to the circle meeting at 4:00 PM and informed us on correct battery use. He also answered a lot of questions about solar panels.
The temperature is now about 75 degrees F during the day and 54 degrees F in the night.

Today we learned about the spiritual needs of the people living at Slab City. Randy made an appointment with the preacher of the church.
We arrived at the church at 9:00 AM, and the preacher and his wife greeted us.

The man is suited for the job. He was a drug addict and an alcoholic. Crashing his car into a tree changed his life.
He knows what some of the inhabitants of this weird place have to go through. There are some with drug problems and some with alcohol problems, and some have both problems.
The church is an old school trailer, nothing fancy.
Their income is below the poverty level, but they say that they are happy. Their home is a motor home, a lot better than the shacks, and old buses around here.
This place attracts a lot of people who have to hide something, or are running away from the daily pressures.
Slab City is the only place in the United States where on can stay all year free. Imperial County and the State of California tried to change that, but they had to give up. They started with Salvation Mountain. It was to be torn down. Leonard got a lot of help from rich people and he was able to get good lawyers. Now his site is actually protected. The lord was on his side.
I have been here several times, but this time I learned a lot. Randy has a way with people and he is curious and wants to know how things work.
This visit at the slabs is fascinating.
In the afternoon I went to the library in Calipatria. The librarian thought I was brave to come back. Wednesday I saw what she had to do to keep the kids in line. They came in after school and she had to tell them where to put their back packs, tell them to sit down, keep quiet, do their home work, and so on. The older children were on the computers. The poor women had her hands full.
From the library I went to Finney Lake. Last year I saw 300 white pelicans there. Today there were none.
My next stop was the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge. Last year I saw 7000 Snow Geese, today none.
It was not my day for wildlife viewing.

After Hugs and Mugs we left for the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge. The snow geese were feeding in one of the large feeding areas. There were several thousand of them.

We went to the viewing area and then took a hike to the little mountain near the shore of the Salton Sea.We had a good view of the area. There are several geothermal plants generating electricity. White clouds of steam are visible everywhere.
At 4:00 PM we left for Bombay Beach, to take a look at the town and to eat catfish at the American Legion.
Lola and Bruce were riding with me. Besides the locals, the WINs, the LOWs, there were also people from the resorts around this area.
After dinner we went to the Fountain of Youth Resort for dancing. I gave Lola and Bruce a little tour of the resort before we went to the dance hall.

I left the Slabs at 7:30 AM and brought the motor home to Ron Carlson’s place in Borrego Springs. Doreen and I will be going to two Christmas lunches, and one dinner dance in the next two weeks.
It is better for me to be at home, instead of driving home from Yuma for each occasion.
I would have liked to stay at the slabs this Monday. Randy has big plans for that day. The WINs will enter the large water tank. He arranged to get two tall ladders from Leonard, the Salvation Mountain man.
A safety committee, ritual committee and other comities were formed.
This is the tank with paintings of couples shown in different sex positions. Randy told the group that the paintings on the outside of the tank will influence people who enter the tank. A person who comes out of the tank will never have to use Viagra again.
I wanted to stay, but we have lunch with the Convair Camping Club on Tuesday.
After setting up the motor home at Ron,s property, we had a little talk and then I drove home.
This was an exciting experience. Slab City is home for about 100 people. There are a lot more Snow Birds, who stay about three months in the winter.
Some of them come every year. The contrast between the slabers and the Snow Birds is extreme. There are a lot of people who have no teeth. I was told that is the consequence of using methamphetamine.

1 comment:

Workhorse said...

Pretty cool summary! I'm going to pass through there in July, 2014....