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.   
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