Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Slab City, Many People--Many Stories

Just past Salvation Mountain lies a community called Slab City.  There are no signs leading to Slab City; however, GPS gave directions right to it. 

I did some research to find out the history of this crazy little place.  Slab City was formerly US Marine Corp training base, Camp Dunlap.  It was used during World War II.  After it closed, the buildings were deconstructed and the area, which legally belongs to the state of California, was left abandoned for years.    

The cement foundations were left after the buildings were torn down.  These cement foundations are the reason for the name “Slab City”.  There are as many as 200 permanent residents—imagine living in 120 degree heat without air conditioning!  From November to March the population explodes as thousands of “snowbirds” flock to the area to escape the cold North.

There are no fees to camp here.  Campers must be self-sufficient to stay here because there is no water, electricity or sewer.  This is total Boondocking—but in a community.

The community appears to be very diverse.  In some cases it was even easy to see specific “neighborhoods” that we guess were like-minded in their interests, personalities or life.  (i.e.  Artist area, more family oriented area, more tent than camper)

The landscape of Slab City is sprinkled full of RVs, trailers, trucks, vans, tents, buses and in some places tarps turned into a home.  It would be easy to assume that among all the random residents and reclaimed items (junk in some cases) there are only desperate people.  I believe there is so much more here.    There were very organized areas, areas that it is obvious the people took pride in their home.

Slab City has become a destination for self-proclaimed exile from what most would say is “normal society”.  

It has become a destination for the wanderer or gypsy, the artist or the "hippy”. 
Like Salvation Mountain, Slab City has been featured in several movies and documentaries.

There is a church, a library and a school bus stop.  We drove through Slab City being careful to stay on what felt like “public streets” and we did not wander into private campsites. 

Because much of the area is run down, and we heard stories about people digging holes for their bathroom and just covering them with plywood and then moving to another site when the hole fills; I probably would find it very difficult to live in Slab City.  But I am glad there are places available for people who choose or need to live simpler, less costly life.

In the end, it is hard to determine the reason the residents set up in Slab City.  I am sure some stay here out of necessity—because it is free.  Some are very likely here because it allows them to have freedom to live a simpler or more creative life.   

Salvation Mountain... Neither Words Nor Pictures Capture

We left early this morning because we wanted to go to the Salton Sea and we had heard about “Salvation Mountain” and “Slab City”.  We knew that the Salton Sea was at least 2 hours away and although the other places were near, we are never sure what to expect—so we wanted to have plenty of time to wander.

We decided to start at Salvation Mountain.  We had no idea what to expect.  I had seen information about this mountain online and decided it would be worth a quick look.  And it did not disappoint!  We really enjoy seeing “quirky” sights around the country; and hear the stories about what inspires people to design and build the weird and wonderful.


Because everything, even the name, implied that we were going to a mountain… we were expecting a Mountain!  From a size perspective it really should be called “Salvation Hill”—from a Labor of Love and mission—it definitely qualifies as a mountain.   This mountain was a dream come true for Leonard Knight.  It was his tribute to God.  Leonard wanted to spread the simple, powerful message: “God Is Love”.   

We often we look back on our pictures and are reminded that pictures rarely do a sight justice.  In the case of Salvation Mountain, I would say “Pictures barely scratch the surface of what is happening here.”

The messages on the mountain include the Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16 along with the Sinner’s Prayer and so many more. 

Included among the other brightly colored messages are flowers, trees, and birds.  You could spend a long time walking through and never see each little detail.  The mountain is only about 50 foot high and made of local adobe clay.  The paint has either been donated or purchased with financial donations.

There are tunnels to walk through, small hidden caves and alcoves.  There is a yellow “road” that leads to the top of the mountain.

There are painted vehicles, make-shift campers and even a tractor with a front-end loader.

From the portrayal of the Sea of Galilee at the entrance, to the giant red heart in the middle and finishing with the large Cross that towers over the entire mountain—the reoccurring theme of “Love” is found everywhere on this Salvation Mountain.  Regardless of a persons’ religious beliefs; it is easy to appreciate that this man had a mission and he had a unique way to present that message.   

This sight has now been featured on multiple documentaries and movies and it has been visited by thousands of travelers.  So although I certainly would not have thought to turn hay, adobe clay and paint into a message about God’s Love.  I am thankful that there are people like Leonard Knight who will step outside what most people will call “normal” to create something that now millions of people have seen—just to say “God is Love”.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm—just outside of Palm Springs

As we drove over the hill, the vast expanse of Wind Turbines was nothing short of shocking.  There are more than 4,000 separate Wind Turbines on the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass.  These Wind Turbines provide enough electricity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley!

The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is located just outside Palm Springs near the Coachella Valley.  The wind farm is just one of three major wind farms in California.  This Pass is one of the windiest places in southern California.  Which, as a side note, the wind is one thing that I did not like about the area.  I am sure George got SO tired of me saying, “I HATE WIND.”

Wind turbine generators are a type of windmill that produces electricity by harnessing the wind.  These wind turbines require an average wind speed of 13mph.  (We had one day with 50mph wind gusts!)  The wind turbines are between 65 to 300 feet tall (they can be as tall as a football field is long).  The blades are between 15 to 140 feet long.  One wind turbine can cost up to $4 million installed. 

We were in the Palm Springs area on and off for about a month.  Multiple times we stopped just to watch the turbines. 

The turbines glide through the air gracefully, with seemingly little to no effort. 

After watching them for days, we decided we wanted to watch the sunset behind the Wind Turbines.  We went by Little Caesar’s Pizza and picked up a small pizza.  Pizza in hand, we found a perfect place for the “show”. 

We watching the sun slowly fade behind the mountains with the Wind Turbines in the front.  It was a beautiful way to finish our day.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Rally has Ended, Time to Move On

 The rally ended this afternoon.  Our brains are both FULL and we are exhausted.  But… we hate to see the rally end because we know that our friends will all be going home tomorrow morning.  We have enjoyed being around fellow RVers and as tired as we both are; we have learned SO MUCH.  

We came with a very short list of things we were hoping to pick up at the rally.  We expected to find a few additional things—but hoped we would not go crazy.  Here is our summary:
Planned Purchases:  Total: $460
Tire Minder, tire monitoring system:  $400
Digital Tire Pressure gauge:  $28
Silicon baking Pans: $32
Unplanned Purchases:  Total:  $147
Bag sealers (chips, etc.): $5
Collapsible Salad Spinner:  $20
Collapsible Refrigerator Storage Container:  $22
Fire Extinguisher:  $25
Geeks on Tour annual Membership:  $59
Electrical connector cleaner:  $16

We had also expected to eat several meals out.  In the end we only ate out the first evening.   We had planned to spend at least $1,000 between purchases and eating out—and in the end we spent less than $150 on unplanned expenses.  

Each day we had expected to go to 6 hours of seminars.  With my fibromyalgia, I often run out of energy before I run out of daylight.  I went to part of one night of entertainment—but I thought it was below average and so we left early.  I didn’t even try to go the final few evening’s entertainment.  The last day I was only able to go to 2 seminars before I pooped out, however, George was happy to be done for the day, also. 

Some of the seminars that we went to were worthless.  Several of the presenters were so interested in selling their products that they didn’t offer any helpful information—these were much like an in-person infomercial.   We went to different seminars while we were here—mostly because we had different things we were interested in.  George loved the seminars on maintenance and safety.  We each attended a fire safety demonstration that was both scary and helpful.  I went to Technology seminars on everything from Smartphones to Picasa photo editing.  I also attended seminars on organization and on space saving tips.

In the end, we both felt like it was worth our time and our money; and we were glad we had attended.  We would expect if we do another Rally, we will try to attend an Escapee Rally.

But the Rally is over and we are moving on to Emerald Cove in Earp, CA, where we plan to lounge beside the pool for a week or so.

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