God is Love: Salvation Mountain

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As soon as you enter Slab City, you will be welcomed by Salvation Mountain.  It is the creation of Leonard Knight.  He started building this in 1984.  In 1994, the County tried to have it torn down, but today it is registered as a National Folk Art Site.

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There are flowers, waterfalls, and the Sea of Galilee depicted, along with messages of love and repentance.

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This structure is nothing short of monumental.  I can’t imagine the drive he had to build in the blazing sun of the Sonoran Desert.  He built using adobe clay, straw, tires, and anything he could find.  Then, he painted it all.  Of course, this structure needs constant maintenance, and there is a non-profit group that works to preserve it.

You can climb the mountain by following the “yellow brick road.”  It is a little precarious, so I feel for those volunteers who willingly go up to painstakingly apply paint.

Paul and Ted at the top:

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Looking down from the top:

Adjacent to the mountain is the “Hogan.”  It is built from 80 bails of straw.  I found it peaceful and a reprieve from the blazing sun.

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Around the structure are several vehicles, also decorated, including an Airstream.

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At the top and out a little way there was a geocache, so we were able to deposit the Travel Bug we got near Yuma.

Overall, I loved Salvation Mountain.  It is a masterpiece.  It was uplifting and cheerful.  I couldn’t help comparing it to the Sistine Chapel, which I found to be oppressive.  And, Salvation Mountain is free!

Welcome to Slab City

Population: Unknown
Water: No
Power: No
Sewer: No
Garbage collection: No
Police service: No
Fire service: No
Mail service: No
Freedom: Yes — It’s considered the last free place in America

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Slab City was once known as Camp Dunlop, a US Marine Corps training centre. (Yes, marines in the desert).  It was decommissioned in the 1950s, and the buildings were removed, but the cement slabs remained.  These slabs are now used as the base for “homes” for people who have left society for one reason or another.  Most of the permanent residents live in travel trailers, but some live in tents or makeshift shanties.

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The slabs are in remarkably great shape, and the roads are not too bad either.  Honestly, the pavement is crumbling on the main roads, but it is in better shape than some Saskatchewan highways.  There are street names, and people do have numbers painted on their trailers.  Also, Google maps has the streets marked!

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Besides the permanent residents, there is a large group of snowbirds that converge on The Slabs too.  They usually stay in the Slab Low Lows.  That’s where we went.

Slab City has a seedy reputation.  We had been warned to put everything away at night or when we left camp because belongings grow legs.  We didn’t heed the warnings and nothing got stolen.  Instead, we discovered a vibrant (and generous) community.

On the night we arrived, there happened to be a free chili night with live music at the Oasis Club.  The next day, there was live music at the Viper Club from 3:30 until sundown.  We didn’t go to either event, but many in our encampment went and had a great time.  You might be wondering about these “clubs”.  Well, this is a community, and they do have places to go for entertainment (the Range, the Viper club, the Oasis club), a library, a church, art, etc.  And, they do their own “policing.”  In the last year or two, we heard of a trouble-maker.  The residents had had enough, and set his trailer on fire.  The burnt-out remains are still there.  In fact, anything that has ever entered Slab City is pretty much there.  Garbage is everywhere.

The Range
Everyone Saturday night people go to The Range to perform on the outdoor stage or watch the performances.  I don’t recommend sitting on the sofas out there.

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Our encampment:

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We were in Slab City during the lunar eclipse, full moon, blue moon, blood moon (a full blue blood eclipsed moon?)  We all set our alarms to be up at 3:30 am to witness it.  It was the most subdued party, as you can imagine, at that hour.  We sat quietly in our lawn chairs while we watched.  I didn’t bring out the camera, though.

We met many interesting people, and so many were Canadian.  Yves, from Quebec, drives a 1986 Wanderlodge (Bluebird Bus), his “toad” is a vintage Land Rover, and his companion, Bugaloo, is an Old English Sheepdog.  Yves said that he is virtually invisible — people always want to meet Bugaloo, see the Rover, or tour the Wanderlodge!  He drove the Rover over to where we had the campfire and made beignets for everyone!

Poppy really enjoyed herself that night.  All the dogs were out frolicking.  A brindle pit-bull from the Slabs came over to our encampment, and Poppy made her first friend out there.  He had her temperament — a little shy and submissive, but playful.  However, once it started to get dark, he went home.  When he came back (after dinner, I presume), the other dogs weren’t in a playful mood anymore, and Bugaloo basically told him to get lost, so he left.  Poor boy.

Do you recognize this boy?

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This is Jax from the YouTube channel Nomadic Fanatic.  We met Eric and Jax at our encampment.  Jax is huge!  He is about 25 lbs, and he’s such a ham.  As soon as he saw my camera he started to move towards it.

One couple even travelled with a chicken!

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She acted like a dog.  She was left as a chick on this couple’s driveway, so they raised her to travel with them.  The only difficulty is when she needs to lay her eggs.  She wants to find a bush, so they confine her to their RV when she needs to nest.  This keeps her safe.

I’ll end with a picture of Princess Daisy.  The flies are really bad here, so Donna Dee suggested hanging a mosquito net around Daisy to keep them away.  It did the trick.  Now, we need to find our own net for her:

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We had been warned to avoid Slab City, but I recommend it to anyone travelling in the area.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would have stayed longer if we hadn’t made plans to move to the other side of the Salton Sea with Ted and Dona.