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.

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.

slab city community meeting

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.

slab city meeting at the range

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!

slab city meeting agenda

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.

slab city burned out rv

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.

military helicopter over the slabs

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.

blah art east jesus slab city

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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Can there be such a thing as too much fun?

Here in dry, dusty Borrego Springs we’re testing that theory with NuRVers.

Since our New Year’s Eve convergence the fun’s been winning out and our work is taking a back seat to fun things like the Trailer Trash Hash.

All that work getting put off makes me nervous, so tomorrow we’re headed to the Slabs for a few days to hide out with the fugitives and get some projects done.

Stay tuned for crazy tales from the desert, coming soon . . .

 

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In November, Jim and I made a pilgrimage back to the place in which we started our permanent road trip; Eureka California, home to the biggest trees in the world and a legendary reputation for the growing the best homegrown pot in the world.

Highway 101 South Garberville, CA

The first time I ever laid eyes on a redwood tree, back in the stone ages of my high school years, I was hooked on Humboldt County. I knew that someday I would return and spend time in that lush Northern California rainforest.

When Jim and I married and looked for cheap real estate and affordable business start-up space, it was a given that moving “behind the Redwood Curtain” was the answer.

Redwood State Parks California North Coast

But let’s get one thing straight: we didn’t reside in Humboldt County for 10 years because we were laid-back, pot-smoking hippies. No, we went up there for a $108,000 house on a  half-acre, spectacular coastal scenery and a budding (no pun intended) tech community built by urban refugees like us.

Unfortunately, seven years after we left, it seems that the tech economy that we worked so hard to create has taken a back-seat to the only real natural resource left in the county: dope.

The irony of all of the pro-cannabis legislation that’s happened in the last few years is that it’s brought more crime, transients and total economic reliance on an illegal commodity.

The hippie kids still come up in droves, either to panhandle or make a fast buck trimming pot plants during the harvest.

Hippies Hitchhiking Garberville, CA

But so do the drug cartels and accompanying murders, not to mention widespread damage to forests and rivers by growers.

We were talking about all of this to an authentic old hippie friend of ours who’s lived in Humboldt since the ’70s. I assumed he would be happy about the mainstream acceptance of pot use and growing in the area. But instead, he went on a rant about how much it’s all gone from peace, love and pot to crime, bums and guns.

“I don’t want it here! I wish they would all leave! We would be so much better off if they just went away!” he said.

It’s amazing what can happen in seven years. I’ve never left Humboldt feeling more certain that we’ll never return for good.

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