Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Slabs, aka Slab City

Today we drove to Niland, CA specifically to explore a true piece of Americana; The Slabs or Slab City. This place is just amazing. It was here in 1942 that General George C. Patton trained his troops in desert warfare, preparing for the North African Campaign of World War II. Called Camp Dunlap. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Marines trained in the area. In 1946, the buildings were knocked down but the slabs remained, Hence the name, The Slabs. During the winter months, there are about 700 RV's in the area. The Summer population is about 50 "Slabbers". No wonder, the temperature occasionally gets to 120* !!. There is no water supply, no electricity, etc. Just the dessert.
There is a church, a nightclub, a library, flea market, etc.
The main feature is Salvation Mountain. Begun in 1989 by Leonard Knight. It's the most amazing structure. He started painting the side of a hill as a tribute to God. Then decided it had to a more permanent tribute and started stacking bales of hay, tree trunks, scrap lumber, etc. into a truly unique structure. Adobe holds everything together.
We met Leonard. He gave us a personal tour of his creation. He lives here in a truck you will see in a photo. All materials used were scrounged from the city dump or donated. He has no money.
We're camped for the night just behind the Slabs welcome sign that used to be the guard shack for the base.


We arrived in Yuma, AZ on Thursday, the 6th. Staying at the VFW BLM camping area. It's basically a patch of desert off Hwy 95, behind the local VFW building. A very unique place. All dry camping (boondocking). Some people have obviously been there for some time but most, like us, are just passing through.
On Friday we went in town to do laundry & grocery shopping. Had Chinese for lunch. The area is a huge farming community. We could identify cabbage, kale & different types of lettuce.

About 3:00pm we were sitting outside on the lawn chairs at the BLM campground near Yuma. Carol looked liked she was napping a little and I asked her if she wanted to go inside. She just mumbled and her head tilted this way & that. I tried to help her stand but she couldn't. I asked her my name and she didn't know.Took her blood pressure; it was 53/40. Dangerously low. I called 911 because something was clearly wrong. When the paramedics got there they started a fluid IV because they suspected dehydration. Carol had been sitting in the very warm sun dressed in sweat pants and a long sleeved shirt. She is always cold if it's below about 80*.
They took Carol to the Yuma Regional Hospital. At the hospital they did a chest x-ray, EKG & blood tests. The doctors big concern was what made Carols blood pressure get so low. Finally, about 9:00pm, they released Carol with the conclusion that it was severe dehydration. Carol drinks very little fluid; she's just not naturally thirsty.. From now on, it's a minimum of 2 quarts of fluid a day. We're both going to monitor Mom's fluid intake going forward. Neither of us need any more scares. This is her third ER visit while camping. First the heart attack, then the dislocated hip and now the dehydration. That's enough.

After getting out of the hospital, we went to the Paradise Casino and spent the night in their parking lot.

A very long day. Fortunately, everything turned out well.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Made it to Arizona

We left Columbus about 8:30 taking all the backroads that form the border between NM & Mexico. Security is great along these roads; the Border Patrol is everywhere. If you look at a map,the NM & Mexico border runs for miles. There are towns in this area that only exist on a detailed map. No structures of any type to indicate they may have existed at one time. Other towns are mostly abandoned or populated with ramshackle buildings. The "rest area" in Hachita is a good example; it's a collection of run down buildings with pickup trucks here & there.
Saw a beautiful, and most unusual, roadside memorial.
There is snow on the mountains to the south and a little scattered along the roadside. The sun never came out today. It was 24* when we got up and I don't think it ever hit 50*.
Tonight were at the Saguaro SKP Co-Op in Benton, AZ. It's an RV park owned by the Escapee Club we belong to. Most of the lots are occupied year round by people who are fulltimers. The place is very well maintained and has an off-leash dog area. Only $17.29/night for a full hookup site. Next time we're in the area, we'll be back.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Mexico

Last night we "camped" at the NM Welcome Center along with a handful of others. This morning it was 25* when we woke up.
Bought gas at Flying J for "only" $2.75/gallon; the cheapest gas on the trip. Filled up with propane at $2.799/gallon. Took the backroads to Columbus, NM and the Pancho Villa State Park. $14/night. When Gopher & I made this trip in 2005 we stayed here. It's the site of the only ground invasion of US Territory since 1812. Pancho Villa raided the fort & town of Columbus in 1916.
In the morning, we continue the trek to California.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Still in Texas.

We spend Sunday night at the city park in Junction, TX. Free. You just find a spot you like and pull in. We're right on the bank of the South Llano River. When we came out West in 2008 to pick up our new Lazy Daze, we stayed here.
Saw the cheapest gas of the trip in El Paso, TX. $2.75/gallon. Unfortunately, we had filled up about a hundred miles earlier at $2.99.
Last night, we had planned a stop in TX but as the day wore on, we decided to simply continue until we got to NM. There was another time zone change in our favor. We got to the NM Welcome Center around 4:00. A very long driving day. The good news is that there are no more marathon drives. Tomorrow it's about an hour and a half to our next stop.