I don’t even know where to start. Really, I don’t. That’s partly why this post is so late in coming.
Many RVers know about Slab City, some like it, some don’t, but everyone said, ‘You have to experience it at least once.’
I asked, ‘Why? What’s the attraction?’ No one could really say why, they just said it was ‘different’.
My readers and fellow travelers have led me to some of the most interesting places so when they say I have to go somewhere, I usually go.
Plus, Me = Different.
While Slab City looks similar in some ways to scenes straight out of the Mad Max movies, it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen or experienced. I now understand why no one could muster an answer when I asked why I should go.
Rather than attempt a lengthy description, I’ll do a series of bullet-point descriptions occasionally accompanied by photos and a video. It’s that “A picture is worth a thousand words” thing. Plus, it’s easier because I’m swamped trying to get a new dinghy tow vehicle so I can get out of Dodge A.S.A.P.
For more detail about Slab City, read my previous articles: one for Yahoo! News (republished on this platform after Yahoo! cancelled their Contributor program), and one about the death in the hot springs.
Slab City, Calif., A World Like No Other
Slab City sits about two hours east of San Diego, deep in the southern California desert. It’s so named because of the concrete slabs left when the military abandoned Camp Dunlap: the military removed all of the buildings, but left the concrete slabs. The location has become a small desert oasis for snowbirds, and for those looking for a free, somewhat unrestricted lifestyle.
How Slab City is different:
- Two churches, two libraries, several social clubs, a couple cafes, a nine-hole golf course, hot springs, a community “shower” (a drainage pipe downstream of the hot springs), and a skate park comprise the facilites.
- Lacking any traditional buildings, many old RVs, park models, and trailers have been turned into something.
- There is no plumbing, electrical service, or running water. Many of the snowbirds and the full-time residents use “gopher holes” for their sewage. A gopher hole is a hole dug in the ground for the sewage.
- It’s free camping. You fend for yourself, but some places offer free meals during the week.
- Local churches and charities donate clothing, which is then often left in large piles outside, for weeks.
- On Saturday night there’s live music at “The Range”. On Friday nights they show movies.
- From November to April every year, thousands of RVers arrive from all over the US and Canada to camp out the winter in the warmer desert climate. Approximately one hundred or so folks live there year round.
- Most people are social and welcoming, others stick to themselves, and a few don’t want you near them. They will let you know.
- There is a disproportionately high rate of theft, hard drug use, and violent crime in Slab City for such a small population. Most people writing from or about The Slabs seem to gloss over this fact. Did they not see it? Do they not know anyone there? My sources continue to tell me about weekly acts of violence, weekly arrests, and theft.
- For the most part, the snowbirds seem largely unaffected by the crime, probably because they tend to keep to one side of The Slabs.
- Many people there have nicknames, even the snowbirds.
- There is no dress code, but everyone I saw had on more clothes than the naked man in Quartzsite.
- Some dogs run free. Most are nice.
- Most wood is burned in firepits at night.
That’s my best verbal description of it. The following photo slide show will give you a good idea what it looks like…
UPDATED July, 2016: I hear Slab City has changed. I’ve been on the road for five years now – and LOVE it! And I’ve learned so much more! I’m in the process of writing a free ebook full of RVing Tips and Tricks for newbies and old-timers alike. No RVing book would be complete without mention of Slab City. Sign up below and be the first to be notified when it’s ready for download! (You will not be added to any other lists, or spammed – I promise! xo KtB)