Archive for the “Local Flavor” Category

Learn what towns put out the welcome mat and for whom; from hippies to rednecks to soccer moms, see who fits in where across America.

We no longer feel quite like newly arrived martians here at Landa RV Park in New Braunfels, but we sure miss the solitude and crazy scenes around the Big Bend. Until next time . . .

Marfa: Naval Tethered Aerostat Radar

Terlingua: It can happen to you too.

Mas Terlingua!


Texas mountain biking trails: Not for sissies.

Lajitas: Trailer park living at it’s finest

Black Gap dust storm

I recon we’ll be back next winter. We’re hooked.

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Ever since our Big Bend finale dinner at the Gage Hotel, it’s been one shitstorm after another.

Some of these costly irritations and guffaws are because of our own stupidity, some are just because it’s the nature of living in a rolling home. And of course, it all comes crashing down at tax time, you gotta love the Universe’s sense of humor. Sure, it could be worse, at least we’re not stuffed and mounted to a wall, right?

Tonight, I just want to reflect on the amazing culinary experience we had at the upscale Gage Hotel in Marathon. We’ve been dreaming about it for two years. Last time we were in town, we had zero money to spend on a fancy pants night out, so we ate nachos in the bar and watched diners chow down on the patio. We felt like two puppydogs in the window, it was pathetic.

However this year when we knew we were returning, we set aside $150 in our dining out budget so we could eat there. The last time we spent so much on a dinner was about two years ago! Yeah, I’m that cheap. We eat out at a variety of inexpensive places throughout the month, but we never spend that much all at once.

As two vegetarians, there wasn’t much for us on the amazing carnivore menu, but the dinner salads and sides sure had a lot to offer so we ordered THREE: a Tex-Mex shrimp cocktail, a beet and goat cheese salad and a seared scallop salad. They were AWESOME.

Of course our lean choices left plenty of room for dessert; a warm chocolate molten cake and homemade flan.

The Gage is such an obscure little hotel, it’s the kind of first-class oasis you’d never expect to find in the middle of nowhere. Our experience there was a dinner for the history books and well worth the splurge.

I’m so glad we went, because there’s no way I would have been OK with this frivolity had I known about the events that were going to transpire as soon as we arrived in the Hill Country.  Now when I feel a panic attack coming on, I’ll do my best to breathe deeply and think back to that one delicious night at the Gage Hotel.

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This morning on my daily run, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the irony of willingly heading toward the Rio Grande. After all, just two generations ago, my Mexican-born grandparents were desperately getting away from it.

Ayi yai yai! Here I am today, with my gringo husband who speaks better Spanish than I do, parking our traveling home in one of the last vestiges of real isolation and ear-splitting silence in America, the Big Bend.

We’ve been bouncing along the Rio Grand between Lajitas and Black Gap since mid-February, but it feels like we just arrived. No matter where you look, the timelessness of every panorama just drives home the fact that we’re all just insignificant specs of cosmic dust. Time moves slowly here, if at all.

To the casual eye it appears that Jim and I do a whole lotta nothing, but we’re working hard on some big projects including Jim’s upcoming speaking engagement at Blog Paws. But for once, we’re not all about work (at least until summer when we return to Vicker’s Ranch).

We took a day trip to Mexico at the re-opened Boquillas Crossing in Big Bend National Park (more on that soon):

Then one of our dearest, oldest friends from Humboldt County drove a couple hundred miles out of his way to stop by. It’s always a blast when our current life intersects with our so very different old one.

After boondocking for nearly a month straight, we lived a life of luxury and paid for a week of full hookups at Maverick Ranch RV Park. Normally a “golf resort” park isn’t the kind of place where you’ll find trailerin’ folk like us, but our friends the Whitfords are playing a regular gig to the Prevost-driving gringos.

We haven’t seen Eldon and Ann since our last trip to Stillwell, and we’re so glad we caught up with these two! If you’re in the area, do not miss their hillbilly hour music show.

After Lajitas, we popped into Alpine to re-stock our provisions, but that was just an excuse to see a mind blowing show by the Texas Americana music legend, Ray Wiley Hubbard.

A cross between a derelict and a genius, a prophet and a pervert, Ray and his bluesy licks (with just one drummer accompanying him the entire time) kept the crowd dancing, grinding and singing for more than two hours. Not bad for a 68-year old stone cold sober outlaw resurrected from the ravages of addiction.

When it comes to the best winter snowbird destinations it don’t get no better than this.

Next week we’ll be heading over to New Braunfels for a month-long stay at our old love/hate destination along the Comal River, Landa RV Park. Until then, we’ll soak up as much quiet time and isolation as we can before jumping headfirst into the crazy Hill Country scene.

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“The last free place on earth is no longer going to be free!”

—Anonymous

This is not true. But it was the general sentiment of many speaking their minds at the inaugural meeting of the Slab City Community Group, Inc. on Sunday, January 19, 2014 held at The Range. If they paid their dollar that is.

Let me back up. There are a lot of rumors about Slab City going around these days, and what might happen to the land the state is reportedly trying to sell. Reported by whom? Good question! I won’t pretend to know many facts about what is going on, but I do know one thing for certain. Public information about the formation of a non-profit organization that could take ownership of the property in a land trust deal with the State of California is severely lacking.

Land Trust:

(As it relates to what may or may not happen with Slab City)

A private, nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.

What Land Trust deal? With whom? When? Such a lack of information results in outrage when people jump to conclusions about what might come of their home, or favorite winter destination. And that’s exactly what happened at the meeting we attended.

One of the first points of order at the first meeting of any official 501c3 corporation is to read rules about certain actions the Board may or may not take in their line of duty. Even before electing Directors, the interim Board at this meeting did just that. When they got to the part about the organization having the ability to acquire property, suddenly that’s what the meeting became all about. No such item was on the agenda for the day’s meeting—the sole purpose of which was to form the corporation and elect a Bord of Directors. And that they did.

Why form a Slab City Community Associatoin?

Why? That’s a great question too!

Those involved with the association’s formation profess the state of California can no longer own the land on which the slabs sit, and will be putting it up for auction if they cannot gift it to a nonprofit organization willing to take ownership—and take on stewardship—of the property and surrounding area. Who contacted who first, how true this is, and what proof exists is up open for discussion.

On the other side of The Slabs one resident reported speaking with a CA State Land Commission rep who said:

“The EPA has made NO threat about Slab City… [and] The Land Commission has not tried to sell or auction Section 36 in at least 15 years.”

Apparently the only concern with section 36 is a complaint filed by the CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control regarding dried paint cans lying around at Salvation Mountain and the structure’s crumbling condition. But I digress.

Other nagging questions remain. Who’s idea was it to form the association? Who was this interim Board and who got elected? Are they all Slab City residents?  What constitutes a resident? Are they in agreement about this intentional community? I doubt that last one.

What information I could gather, I gleaned from two groups on the Faceborg, the Slab City website and by word of mouth.

What I Do Know

The best documented report I found of what’s going on with the SCCG and what the future brings for The Slabs is this document:

Four Questions for the Slab City Community Group

From my own personal experience, I only know that a Board of Directors was elected at the meeting after we left. Exactly who? I have no idea, nor could I find out where the group is keeping its public records.

I hear their first meeting is scheduled for a few weeks when they will discuss the formation of a Slab City Bill of Rights. That’s a start, but is it necessary?

One thing is clear. Factions have formed, and as one old timer at the Slabs personally told me, what we have here is, “A Family Divided”.

Factions will feud. There’s plenty of that going on in the groups, but I have heard of no physical retaliation that has been known to occur at Slab City in the past. Hopefully everyone can help develop a solution to any land deal if one exists, or at least agree to disagree and move on.

According to their Facebook Group, the Slab City Community Group was formed years ago, “born out of a desire to ‘Say No To Violence’ at Slab City (or The Slabs)”. This informal group of f Slab City residents and visitors has a simple mission:

“To provide a forum for people to share information about and connect with people at Slab City, California.”

Fair enough. Hopefully none of the rants and flame wars going on between those in disagreement about the future of The Slabs and formation of any sort of governing body won’t ignite any actual flames.

About that Dollar

For the record, I am not taking sides on this issue. While I do believe seasonal snowbird slabbers like me do have an interest in whatever happens, I also understand how full-time residents of The Slabs have much more at stake regarding the results.

That’s why I paid my dollar to speak at the SCCG inaugural meeting. OK, it wasn’t my dollar. But I wanted to ask a couple procedural ensure this group was being founded legally and they were playing by the rules—Robert’s Rules of Order, that is. And they were. But I didn’t have any cash on me, and one had to be a member to address the interim board. the annual membership fee is one dollar. A kind slabber paid my buck for me. Then Rene suggested I maintain a lower profile.

Epilogue

What if the Slabbers do buy the Slabs? Great! But do they know what they’re getting into? And will they share the details with their entire membership in a timely manner as their bylaws dictate? Let’s hope so.

If the State does grant the land to some organization, it may only be doing so to release itself of liability and place responsibility for said land on such a group. What’s to keep them from turning around and insisting the area be cleaned up? Or worse yet, regulated. Can you imagine Slab City Homeowners Assoociation rules of conduct?

If there is no deal, and the State moves forward with an auction of BLM Section 36, will anyone buy it? Nobody has jumped at that chance for 50 years so far.

What do you think? Better yet, what do you know?

UPDATES:

02/15/14: An objective and detailed update on the state of affairs from the Imperial Valley Press

Residents of America’s “last free place” divided over future

 

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An audible murmur hovers over Slab City as residents and snowbirds alike chatter about big changes that are about to occur.

No, it’s not about this week’s ginormous full moon.

slabfullmoon

And it’s not Peter‘s new Fitness Center.

slabfitness

Or even Turtle’s exciting Lizard Tree Library renovations.

Lizard Tree Library Renovation Project

It’s about major decisions and dealings that were made without involving the tough and spirited people who live here all year long.

I know little of what’s about to occur, so I won’t say anything more until after this Sunday’s big announcement at the Range.

There’s never a dull moment here at Slab City USA.

 

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