Sunday, 18 March 2012

March 16th-17th, 2010 pt.3

We continued the tour with Kevin and rode to the eastern boundary of Slab City where the Coachella Canal flows.  Apparently you can catch carp in here.

This here is the pet cemetery where many a traveler's best friend are laid to rest
The cemetery itself can be considered an art gallery as the owners creatively design their pet's headstones.  Kevin's cat Violet recently passed away and this is where she's laid to rest.

We came across two water towers that have been converted to works of art.  One depicted love and the other depicted war & destruction.
There's a lot going on in each one and if you look carefully, every once in a while a small detail will pop up at you and either makes you laugh or cry.  Very interesting stuff.
A portrayal of the God of Love?
A portrayal of the God of War?  Interesting use of shotgun hulls.
Later on in the evening, the three of us shot the breeze over a nice toasty campfire outside Kevin’s trailer.  Kevin shared many stories about the community and its people.  He told us that Niland, the nearest town, has a serious drug problem; specifically crystal meth.  “Meth-heads” would raid Leonard’s truck while he’s sleeping to steal whatever they can to get their quick fix.  Kevin had to chase them off in his pickup truck on numerous occasions.  People that don’t know the area would camp on the main strip in Slab City which puts them at greater risk because junkies from Niland consider them to be fresh meat and would often break into RV’s and tents if left unattended.  The police won’t be of any help either because they’ll only come if someone is murdered.  With that said, the actual residents of Slab City for the most part are care-free fun-loving people. 
The next morning we were woken up by the morning sun.  The greenhouse effect made it unbearable to stay inside the tent any longer so we rode into Niland to explore.  The Mexican restaurant in town had Wi-Fi so we decided to eat there and catch up on the ride report.  We also spent time catching up with family and friends. 

We were invited to the Oasis Club in Slab City for their St. Patrick's Day dinner gathering
All you can eat for $10
Might not look like it in this picture, but it was actually very tasty.
It was such a treat to be amongst the people and hearing them tell their stories.  All the credit goes to Kevin for accompanying us.  If it wasn't for him, we probably wouldn't be here.

Later that evening, Kevin took us to the hot spring to freshen up and wind down.  There were a few rowdy people when we got there, but the spring was big enough for us to keep to ourselves on the other end.  We couldn’t believe how hot it was when we stepped in.  We had to get out numerous times to cool down because it was so hot.  Unlike the hot spring in Big Bend, there was a deep end that was bottomless.  The bottom surface of the shallow end felt very slimy and we tried really hard to avoid walking on it.  There was a strip of carpet at the bottom for people like us who were grossed out by the weird sensation it left on one’s feet.  Kevin told us a story about an old man who would go to the hot spring at the crack of dawn everyday and sit in a corner all by himself and stare at people for hours on end.  This made it extremely uncomfortable for people who use the spring on a regular basis, especially women.  After about three weeks of this, the people of Slab City caught on and decided enough was enough.  The next morning the old man was gone, never to be seen in Slab City again.  Nobody knew what happened or what went down to cause the disappearance of the old man.  “That’s how Slab City justice is done,” describes Kevin.  As we walked back to our tent, we heard low flying helicopters zooming by over our heads.  Off in the distance, what sounded like thunder and lightning, were actually missiles and bombs going off.  We find out The Chocolate Mountains, about 20 miles away from us, is the testing grounds and training area for the U.S. military.  Our experience here in Slab City was so surreal.

Amongst the people.
Take the law into own hands.
We’re under attack!

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