Goodbye Slabs, Hello Open Spaces

January 30, Monday

Things have been going well in Slab City, CA. Today’s little field trip is out to the water tank near Salvation Mountain. An artist has drawn a self-portrait on the tank and some of the other concrete surfaces and it’s really well done.

There’s graffiti tags all over too. These people have a lot of talent.

I actually get the fire going in the evening, amazing! I guess second time’s the charm. If you think I live in a small rig, here’s Bertha and Cas side by side with Jackie’s Blue and TicTac.

February 1st, Wednesday

Yesterday I stuck around the rig and a group of us went to Ponderosa in the evening. It’s an Air BnB with spare trailers to serve as housing, the hosts take their clients for a tour of the Slabs during their stay. But on Tuesday evenings they also host an acoustic music night around a campfire, and $2 will buy you a heaping portion of that night’s meal, which happened to be chili this time around. Spaghetti is another common one. Turnout was good but as many people in the Slabs like their privacy and most of the event took place after dark, I didn’t take any pictures.

Today I’m moving on towards Los Algodones for my dental appointment on the 7th. I get a rather late start after Tai Chi class (you can find Yoga classes in the Slabs too) and poi lessons (which I did for two friends camping with our group).

From Slab City I take 111 down to Brawley for a Walmart stop and continue south to El Centro. From there I board I8 east. Exit 159 for Ogilby road goes north into BLM land, first into a fee area near the dunes. But if you keep driving north past the train tracks and turn east onto American Girl Mine Road, it’s 14-day free camping along there. Several attendees from the Xscapers convergence are out here and I join the party. Most of us have upcoming dentist appointments, this is a convenient place to camp near the border.

It’s the first quiet night I’ve had since Quartzsite, it feels good to get away from the crowds.

February 2, Thursday

I’ve parked Cas so that my front door points to the east where a broad wash keeps other campers from parking in my view and a line of mountains behind lend some variety and beauty to the desert scene. There are six other rigs (one couple, five solos) in our little group, but unlike at Quartzsite we’re more spread out.

This is my first experience with this kind of gathering but already I like it – a loose caravan with limited members and an open schedule. I can sit in my chair outside the rig without being bothered, and in the evenings can join the others around the central fire if I’m feeling like it. Or not, there’s no pressure. There is no time table, we don’t know exactly how long we’ll be here and there’s no obligation to arrive or leave on a certain day.

This evening I take a sunset walk alone across the wash.

This area is quite flat, and vegetation is sparse except in the washes. Ocotillo are quite plentiful though which makes me happy. They’re all leafed out after the rain and looking pretty.

I find my sunset subject: a tiny dormant plant only a few inches tall on a rocky stretch devoid of all other life. I plunk my butt down on the pebbly sand and rest my phone on the ground right behind it to capture the silhouette, contrails make for an interesting sky. There are bigger and more photogenic subjects around, but something about this tiny little weed holding its own in this harsh spot speaks to me, a message of resilience and hope. No matter the odds, life finds a way.

February 4, Saturday

Three of us take a trip up to Glamis and the dunes today. What was a difficult drive with the trailer a week ago in heavy winds is pleasant this morning with clear blue skies and only a whisper of a breeze. 78 is completely clear of sand and the hills are alive with the sound of OHVs.

Apparently, Glamis is something of a mecca for off-roading, and one of our number enjoys dirt biking and wants to check out the scene. There are places in Glamis to rent toys for playing on the sand but there is also camping along Gecko road on the western edge of the dunes and a lot of RVers are out here hauling their own toys. If you’re an ATVer I could definitely see the appeal of camping right at the dunes for the convenience factor. It being a weekend, the area definitely has a party feel today and I personally as a non-ATVer wouldn’t want to camp out here because of the noise.

There’s a dune at the end of Gecko road that has a reputation for being a challenging ride and tonight near dusk folks will gather to attempt it. We’ll already be gone by then, but I hear if you’re ever in the area it’s quite the spectacle. Instead we stop at the huge T. Osborne Lookout Park for an hour or so and lounge in the sand. It’s almost like being at the beach.

Yes that’s me down there. Drone photo credit: Mark Emrick

February 5, Sunday

Although none of the eight of us currently camping on American Girl Mine Road are big football fans, it would be a wasted opportunity not to have a Super Bowl party considering we’re all here with no other plans today and have access to an outdoor TV and a good signal. Food is procured, chairs are brought over to the rig with the outdoor TV, and we tune at 4 pm local time.

This is the first time I’ve ever watched a Super Bowl, it was worth it. Most of us stood around gabbing for the majority of the game but we all started paying attention in the last quarter when the score got close and it’s neat to be able to say that I got to watch the first Super Bowl in history that went into overtime.

* * *

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Pamelab on February 9, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    You are having adventures! Looks so pretty in the dunes. Always enjoy your blog.
    Attended a rally right near Big Bend National Park. Beautiful and vast!
    Happy Trails.

    • Becky on February 9, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      I sure am Pamela! Sounds like you are too, I hope you’re enjoying your Casita and traveling life. Take care!

  2. Jodee Gravel on February 8, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Good times! Spent many weekends camped on those dunes, playing all day on ATVs with family and friends. The weather looks perfect. Wonderful sunset – words and photo 🙂 Always fun to watch the game outdoors with fans.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Fun With Tombstone FriendsMy Profile

    • Becky on February 9, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Yes Jodee highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s, that’s my ideal RVing temperature. The last two days have been warmer though. Glad you enjoyed Glamis!

  3. Kathy Mutchler on February 8, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Becky, once again our paths cross in an unconventional way! Jackie and Tic Tac were just here at the Rio Bend Resort in El Centro. I’m sure you got to hear her sing. What a beautiful voice. You may have met her friend Kathy Lee who also travels with our group. Would have swung over to say hello, had we realized you were there, as I missed your last post. Drive safe until our paths cross once again!
    Kathy and Kathy Red

    • Becky on February 9, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      How funny Kathy! Yes Jackie did a bunch of singing and playing in the Slabs, she is very talented! I heard about her gig over there, that’s the second time she’s performed at that place.

      Yes, hopefully our paths will cross again soon.

  4. Rob on February 8, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Last winter I was with a loose group of people in the Quartzsite & down by the Colorado river in Ehrenberg. Visit or not during the day & a social time by the campfire in the evening. Good people.
    I enjoyed that a lot more than the spread out group of individual vandwellers I saw so often.

    • Becky on February 9, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Sounds like fun Rob!

  5. Jim on February 8, 2017 at 8:56 am

    That water tower art is spectacular. Thanks for the great pics!
    Jim recently posted..Just a bit of news…My Profile

    • Becky on February 9, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      You’re welcome Jim, and yes it sure is! What a talented artist.

  6. Vanholio! on February 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    I tried duning in my van a couple weeks ago. Did not end well. I’m gonna write about it soon. Makes me pine for an ATV, though! LOL

    Love the art at Slabs. Not sure I’m up for the “crowds,” such as they are. I like the idea of your little gathering much better.
    Vanholio! recently posted..Gila Cliff Dwellings – Native Survivalist FortressMy Profile

    • Becky on February 9, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      ATVing has never really interested me, other than as a way to sightsee. But it sure is popular out in Glamis! Hope you didn’t get hurt.

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