As I mentioned in the last blog there was one town I was seeking out in particular just outside of Niland, California. The “town” is known as Slab City. Slab City began in the 1940’s as a military training facility and like most settlements in the area it too was abandoned and the only thing left behind were the concrete slabs of the former buildings.
Hollywood discovered Slab City during the filming of Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn. It is described as a “free RV oasis located in the desert” but it is anything but an oasis. Free; yes, Oasis; no! There is trash everywhere, but there is a movement Slab City Organization clean up Slab City. To do so is going to be a major undertaking and sadly a continuous effort as well. If done it may become more like a winter oasis in the future.
There were many RV’ers settled in at Slab City who appeared to fulltime primarily due to poverty. It is said many live here as they can easily afford to do so on their small government checks or tiny pensions. Why? Because you can boondock here for free… just pick a spot and it is yours. No water, no electricity, no nothing… sand, rocks and scrub desert. Yet, it is still a very popular place for many transient wintering RV’ers and there are services nearby making it easier to stay for extended periods in this part of the desert.
But the main reason we came to Slab City was because there was one very interesting inhabitant here. A fellow named Leonard Knight, now living in a convalescent home, who had a vision and what he created with his vision is very impressive to say the least. Salvation Mountain is “Leonard's tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: "God Is Love."” If you are anywhere near this part of the state this is indeed a must see place,
Even if you are not spiritual, simply the enormity of his undertaking will astonish you. You can only imagine what incredible devotion it took for this man to pour his entire life into such an endeavor… The end result is called Salvation Mountain! It has even been designated a National Folk Art Site, by The Folk Art Society of America. See it, feel it, experience it… you won’t be sorry… but hurry as in a recent LA Times article (Feb 2012) it was stated… “Knight has been gone about six months. Already Salvation Mountain is showing signs of aging: Paint is fading, cracking and peeling" Hopefully someone will pick up where Knight left off or at least maintain it.
NOTE: We are now settled some 140 mile southeast in Yuma, Arizona for the next six days and today we will celebrate Sharon’s birthday somewhere nearby…