Saturday, February 14, 2009

Beatlick Travel Report #13: Slab City

Date: Feb 12, 2009 2:33 PM

Report #13

Beatlick Joe had directions from an internet site for Slab City . Well they are not on Highway 111. If you come from the south as we did, you have to turn in Niland on Main Street , by the liquor/grocery store. Then it’s three miles on out of town.

After seeing the glut of RVs in Tucson I began imaging this place all compacted roofline to roofline with giant big rigs. But it’s not like that at all. It’s all spread out.

So you come up the road and there’s a concrete graffiti rock “Slab City – You’re almost there.” Another mile down the road you see a home made sign “Slab City : the last free place in America.”

To the right is a big hill painted with colorful tributes to Jesus, decorated cars glorifying God and the value of repentance, etc… This is an abandoned military project. There are remnants of roads, and of course lots of concrete slabs. The road is two-laned and asphalt up to the slabs then gravel roads create a grid of I can’t say how many square miles of plots.

The landscape encompasses exquisite mountain ranges in an almost 360-degree panorama and mesquite bushes spread out flat and wide by the wind. So you have plenty of room to spread out, like the trees.

The catch is the trash left behind by decades of desert squatters. All is beautiful from the bilious sky to the crisp green line of brush along with a smattering of some large shady trees. Before your eye can settle to the bottom of the canvas to the sand and slab line of this perfect desert picture you have to see a wide swath of dark copper-colored trash.

Everywhere. As people moved on they left behind the swing set, couches, water jugs by the dozen, propane tanks by the crateful, wheelchairs, portable potties, office chairs, wheelchairs, and abandoned, burned out, blown over trailers. It’s just a site to see. You can’t describe it in one sentence; you can’t visualize it in one picture. The further out you go the cleaner it gets.

Where we are parked today, we got here by noon, Slabbers pass us by on bikes, golf carts, and scooters. Most of the men look like Santa Claus.

Happy Trails
Beatlick Pamela

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