On Friday, a few friends and I headed out to the desert to visit Niland, California. At first glance, Niland doesn't look like much. There's a laundromat, a small grocery store and a restaurant/bar in the main part of town.. not a place that most people would think to make a vacation spot.. but hiding just off of the main strip of town are two national treasures - Salvation Mountain and Slab City. I've visited Niland a few times, but I always take something new away every time that I visit. Salvation Mountain was built by folk artist Leonard Knight as an outward declaration of his faith to God. He built the entire mountain by hand using adobe clay and straw. It's such an awesome place to visit.
Just down the road from Salvation Mountain is Slab City - what's been called the last free place to live in America. People from all over the country and world go to Slab City with their trailers and RVs and live on cement slabs. The slabs are all the remains of Camp Dunlap - a WWII Marine barrack. It's a quirky community.. made up all sorts of people. My friends and I spoke with one guy who had moved out to Slab City after losing his job with a traveling carnival. He now spends his days converting an abandoned swimming pool into a skate park for the community.
Every Saturday night in Slab City, the residents hold a open mic at an open-air venue called "The Range". A man by the name of Builder Bill started up the show a few years back and people come from all over to perform there. When I went out to Slab City back in September with Roadtrip Nation's Roadie tour, we gave Builder Bill one of our RV bumper stickers. I was really excited when I noticed that it had been put up on one of the walls at The Range!
Bill was kind enough to grace us with his singing talents. He played a song that he performs at the opening of open mic each week. Here's a little taste of that!
I definitely want to camp out to Slab City soon with my trailer. Maybe I can talk a few friends into coming along and performing at The Range one Saturday night!