As you drive in on Beal Road you will see many residences on each side of the road. But the first thing to really catch your eye is Salvation Mountain. But I'm not here to talk about what you see as much as what you will experience if your here for any real length of time.
My adventure began in November 2022 and lasted till March of 2023. This is the 3rd time I've stayed near or in Slab City California so I wasn't a noob. As in my previous stays, I headed east on Coachella Canal Rd to the BLM area. Away from the people and hustle in town. Way back off the road where I couldn't be seen easily, but I could see all around my camp for some distance. I felt safe in my own little patch of sand.
I proceeded to reach out to a friend living in the Slabs to see what was going on and to meet up as previously planned. We agreed to meet in one weeks' time because I wanted some time to relax after being on the road for several days. I was not ready to deal with Slab City and its eclectic group of citizens. Let alone the snowbirds and tourists that also gather in or very near the town itself.
We met in a weeks time over a campfire and some magic mushrooms. The conversation was light hearted as we were just mildly trippin and joking about what we did since we last met. The fire glowing in the cold night air gave a feeling of warmth and security. Two rare feelings sometimes in the presence of all that happens in town. But the fire and conversation lasted for hours before I returned to the open desert and my hidden campsite. It was decided over the campfire that I would move into town and help clean up the camp to pass the time and experience Slab life for myself.
I was told to keep an eye on everything in camp. Let no one in without permission. And be careful who I talk to. Not everything or everyone is as it seems. Theft is a common occurrence. Barter and trade is the name of the game here as cash is in shortage. Protect what is yours.
After 5 months of living in town, I feel fairly comfortable. I got to know several locals that live here all year round. Wranglers Roost has some awesome burgers. The Range has entertainment during the tourist season. Jerry delivers the water and John is an artist I've gotten to know. A dog lost it's life in a fight with a stray and the Katamari Camp burned to the ground. Drugs can be a problem but they are a problem everywhere else too. John decided to give me the Slab name "Chippendale" as I rarely wore a shirt.
This isn't the place for everyone, but it's a place I called home for yet another winter season. This was the most in depth time I spent in town and I'm glad I had the chance. I kept most names out of this blog and hope I didn't offend anyone. Always ask permission before filming and be respectful of others. The Slabs have a lot to offer if you open your eyes.
Each morning I would wake up and take a walk. I wasn't afraid of anything and the walks gave me time to explore and meet the people in the Slabs. Then I was given the low down on some rules and safety advice. Be courteous but always be alert. Not everything is as it seems. Keep your dog on a leash. Stay out of others camps. Watch for feral dogs and feral people as well. For the first time, I had cause for concern. I was now still taking my walks but was much more aware of my surroundings.
Camp cleanup was a chore but going well. I was meeting new people and learned quickly who to avoid. The hot springs are a good place to meet locals and is a great place to relax on a cold evening. I saw the famous canal of water that cannot be accessed legally. The water, lifesaving as it may be, was destined and belonged somewhere else downline. I again began to feel comfortable and was feeling like I was a part of my friends life in town. But that feeling was about to change.