Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slab City ~ California

We love RVing but must admit, most of our stays and visits are done in nice RV parks that one can find almost anywhere you go.  There are other RV’ers that are quite willing to stay out in the middle of nowhere or in this case the desert, without amenities and the term often used for that is ‘boondocking’ or ‘dry camping’.

The welcome sign is painted on an old concrete guard station
Welcome to Slab City in California
One recent adventure took us to see Slab City. We have been hearing about this for several years and I have even had requests to do a blog on it so that definitely peaked my interest and it went on the list of places to visit this year.  Slab City is located southeast of Palm Springs near Niland, CA, on Hwy 111 by the Salton Sea.
A bicycle and metal frame hold a creative bulletin board
Slab City Bulletin Board
The history of Slab City begins as Camp Dunlap when it was built to house the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 but was no longer needed and dismantled in 1956.  All buildings were taken down so that all that was left was the concrete slab they sat on.  
Creative use of rubber tires on entrance to a trailer home
Rubber tire entrance at Slab City, CA
In 1961 the Department of Defence issued the land to the State of California and later it was deemed through legislation that any revenues gained from this land would go to the State Teacher Retirement system.  Some time later, there were workers harvesting the creosote leaves in the area and parked their small trailers on the nearby slabs so as to be closer to work, and so began Slab City.
Many RV's can be seen in the distance
Slab City neighborhood
There are many RV’ers that come here for the winter months who are willing to do without water, power and sewer but might get their power from their own generators or solar panels.  The big problem that happens is the dumping of the sewer and many are working to get the problem cleaned up so that it can be a nicer place to be.
The truck is covered with recycled pieces for interest or art?
Creative artwork in Slab City,CA
Then there are the squatters, who might live here year round enjoying the “last free place”.  This is their home and I was trying to be careful not to invade their privacy but I did have to take photos of some very interesting places.  There are some very artistic residents with imaginations who use the recyclables to decorate their properties. 

All kinds of shoes are hanging from a tree on the road leading into Slab City
Shoe tree of Slab City, CA
A shoe tree sits alongside the road with quite a selection of shoes on it. Across the road there is an open air nightclub in the heart of Slab City called the Range. This private home opens their doors to the locals and visitors at dusk on Saturdays. Those who wish to entertain on Talent Night or play music for the others to enjoy on this stage with lights and sound equipment are welcomed to do so.  

Horse and cowboy were seen at local store down the road from Slab City
Horse in Niland, CA
As we left to head south to finish our circle tour of the Salton Sea, there were a couple of horses tied up to the posts at the store in Niland so I took a photo of the horse; out the truck window. I knew the horse wouldn’t mind but it seems the ‘Slab City cowboy’ walked into the picture, and he did mind. He yelled something at me. I’m not sure what he said but he I know he wasn’t wishing me a great day. (:
He was some mad at me! I have covered his painted face and his friend’s, as well.

While it might be interesting to know what brought some of the Slab City squatters to live in the “last free part” of the world, I sure wasn’t going to stop and ask any questions. I don’t need to know and they’re entitled to their privacy. I just know that boondocking in Slab City is not for us! On to other adventures!  Click here to see Salvation Mountain that sits nearby.


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