Mar 182015

In our first year on the road, we made a pilgrimage to Slab City in Niland, California. If you’re not familiar with this outpost of individuality, Slab City is located on the site of an abandoned World War II Marine training base. It is home to a motley collection of people that most would call misfits, who live in everything from old school buses to shacks without the benefit of everyday conveniences like running water, electricity, and a sewer system. Besides the 500 or so year around residents, every winter the population swells as RVers from across the country and Canada show up to dry camp. Think Quartzsite without the ambience.

The most recognized landmark at Slab City is Salvation Mountain, the work of the late Leonard Knight, an eccentric folk artist who made his own mountain from old tires, cinder blocks, paint and other trash. We met Leonard on that one trip to Slab City years ago and he was one of the gentlest people I’ve ever known.

Salvation Mountain

Now it looks like the rest of the state has decided that the folks at Slab City must move along so they can sell the land to developers, as this news story reports. Because if there is one thing this country needs it’s another cookie cutter housing development, right?

Slab city wasn’t for us, but then again, neither is Quartzsite. But it is right for a lot of folks. I say leave them alone, who are they hurting? We don’t all have to be the same, do we? What ever happened to live and let live?

On another topic, if any of you ever need to write something from the perspective of somebody in a straightjacket, just go have a sleep study. I did recently, and I’m here to tell you, I’ve had worse nights, but people were shooting at me. Don’t I look happy?

Sleep test small

And these are just some of the wires and sensors they had stuck on me! And they expected me to sleep? That wasn’t happening! I got about 72 minutes of sleep strung out over seven hours.

The one good thing that may have come from laying awake all night hooked up to all that stuff is that after I had sung every song I ever knew in my head, tried to remember every girlfriend I ever had, and wondered just how in the hell long seven hours is, I may have also come up with a sequel to Dog’s Run. Many people have told me, and I agree, that it is my best book ever. It was written as a stand alone and has never had the sales it deserved. I never envisioned a sequel, but now I have something germinating that may play out. We’ll see what happens.

DogsRun small

Today is our last day in Tucson, and tomorrow we’ll be heading up to Apache Junction for a month of family time with Terry’s parents and sisters. Hopefully while we’re there we’ll also find time for me to get some writing and Terry to get some weaving done. We have missed doing both the last few weeks.

Thought For The Day – We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid. – Benjamin Franklin

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Will Slab City Survive?”

  1. Have had several sleep studies over the years, you look about as pleased as I felt. Although, by the last one, I was able to achieve almost six hours of sleep only interrupted by the voice in the sky reminding me to adjust my mask. Now I live with a CPAP machine and can’t sleep without it. My wife does, too. We serve as each other’s ‘Voice In The Sky’ when the mask leaks because of bad head positioning. The difference it makes in my level of consciousness during the day is amazing. Driving is a whole lot safer, too.

    For what little it is worth, I agree with you about the Slabs. And, frankly, by now they should know there will be no development successful in attracting any long-term residents. Those who are there are present because they want to be. Surely Sacramento has learned by now that any plan for that area not involving a rattlesnake and Gila Monster farm has no chance. While change is inevitable, must we drive all outsiders out of what is truly a wasteland to accommodate those few who think organization is the answer to Slab City’s ills? I think not … and I was a bureaucrat in previous life, persecuting free thinkers in the name of “Community”. Shame on me and shame on the few behind the notion that organization will cure their ills.

  2. Sleep Studies, I had two of those. After they found that I only slept for 45 minutes of REM sleep. I was strapped into a CPAP machine. Now I dee sleep very well, I now dream, and no more snoring, my bride likes that. Best part II’m not up every 45 minutes. Sleep like a baby. Only problem I have burn up two CPAP machines will using it while boondocking. The inverter that was installed mackes the ac current wind up and down. But as you said a few days agoyou don’t boondock any more. You WILL enjoy the REM (deep) sleep the CPAP will give you. If you dont like any thing on your face tell them you want the small pillows for the mask. Have fun!

  3. I never could go to sleep in my sleep study … they said I didn’t have a problem!!

    I went to slab city once … it’s not for me either, but they should be left alone. They’ll just pick up stakes and move somewhere else, setting up another settlement. That will leave the cookie cutter housing development to eventually declare bankruptcy after they find out no one in the world wants to live there!!

  4. Isn’t it insane? Who else would WANT to live in Slab City besides those already there…do they think they can make it a garden of Eden?? Sad…how else can those people live on so little money, except someplace like that.

    Well, sounds like you made good use of the awake time in the sleep study, Nick. I have never had that test as I doubt I could go to sleep at all!! If I stay away from foods I am allergic to, I sleep much sounder. Allergies can be the reason for snoring and waking up too…

  5. Interesting article . Please go back and spend some time Three weeks minimum) with about a dozen twelve year olds and post your findings…. I’m interested in your ( neutral ) findings

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