the slabs

On my way to see family for Xmas in CA I had an opportunity to visit a friend this weekend. I've been anxious to see the place ever since I'd first read about it. There's plenty of material about the place so I'm covering just what I saw and experienced there. The drive in takes you through the sleepy farming town of Niland. The place looks like the great depression arrived eighty years ago and never left. There's a two lane mile long stretch of desert road which separates the town from it. The first thing telling you you're going the right way is an old decoratively painted concrete guard shack. A little after that you see Salvation Mountain, and then you finally see the Slabs. Parts of it was kind of like being in a third world slum or shanty town. It's one thing to see pictures or video but nothing comes close to experiencing it in person. I arrived about an hour before the sun set so I didn't get to see much until the next day. My friend and I spent the time getting caught up over dinner, and then had freaky nasty sex to marching band music. I'm kidding and just making sure you're still with me. After dinner she took me to "The Range" where there was live music and the best mix of people from all walks of life having a good time. It's located at the slabs and is an open air stage where anyone can go up and perform. Even stray dogs are allowed up there. I meant to take more pictures but kind of forgot to on account of the great time I had that night. Even despite an allergy attack. In the morning I toured the place while my friend gave me the low down on the place and it's politics. We went to the Oasis where most of the camp was having breakfast already. It's basically a donation only restaurant from what I'm told. This is how they get around having to get a business license and have to deal with the health department. I got to talking with a few people about what brought them there and how they manage. All I'm going to say is that there are some who have great pensions and others who have brilliantly worked the system to their advantage. It really is such a unique and complex place that defies any conventional definition. I realize that description is kind of a cop out, but I'm pretty sure anyone whose been there would agree with me. I spent one night and half a day there, but it is a place I plan to go back to and stay a while.


  1. Steve, I'd love to hear more about the Slabs. I know there is a bunch written about it, but I always like to read people's opinion of it and the actual mechanics of living there. It sounds like there are places to be found that can be quite good little communities. I like that there are bookstores, food places, and even music/entertainment. And more pictures please! HAA! I don't have my Casita yet and have to live thru others' blogs for now. Enjoy your travels!

  2. So many differing descriptioms about the same place. Sounds like it may be fine if you have an open non judgemental mind.

  3. It's been a few years since I've been there but one of the worst things about the place is the trash that has built up and "rat holes". Rat holes are where unscrupulous folks dump there sewage instead of paying $5 in town or traveling the 15 miles to a free rest area dump. If you choose a likely looking spot to park, you may not realize you're near one of these until it rains or the wind is right. Also,the whole valley is a farming and industrial area and the air is not so clean. It's cheap though!

  4. Great description Steve, although I could have managed without the freaky sex visual (pass the brain bleach)

    It's been 25-30 years since I've been there, but it doesn't sound like much has changed; possibly dirtier with a few more people.

  5. Thanks guys. Time permitting I'll be stopping by on my way out and should have more to say.

    The trash and rat holes are still very much a part of the place. My friend mentioned that people sometimes will fill an unusable rig with trash and burn it down.

    Cyndi - lol .. sorry about that. I like to throw something random at my readers. Trust me when I say I was kidding, and my friend is more like a sister to me than anything else.

  6. "Nasty freaky sex to marching band music?"

    WOW! Sounds like a good night! lol! Defintely peaked my interest! Great little zinger to throw in the story for the heck of it.

    Nice sense of humor!