Thursday, December 29, 2011

INVENTING A NEW TRAVEL STYLE

ENOUGH WITH BYSTANDER JOURNALISM!  ENOUGH WITH "SPECTATORISM"----I WILL GO AND "DANCE" WITH THE LOCALS----I WILL GO AND "STIR" THE POT.  I INVITE 30 OF MY BOLDER FRIENDS TO GO WITH ME----TO THE INFAMOUS "SLABS". People here are a mite touchy about visitors who gawk and go---so I propose we dig in for a 10 day stay---stretch our imagination for ways to get up close and personal---to engage---learn---teach--appreciate.

We each arrive separately---having discovered the many disadvantages of caravaning.  Our advance man--George--has selected a suitable camping area and phoned its coordinates to us. Those not already acquainted with the slabs click here for a briefing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slab_City
A distance shot showing the barren nothingness that has become a world celebrated happening.
Early arrivers select an assembly spot and gather firewood. Behind my rig you can see rigs of another adventurous group --- the Boondockers and behind them is a mega club---the LOWs (Loners on Wheels) who camp at the Slabs all winter long.
We assemble---are entertained by two guitarist---then make plans to "get personal" with the locals.
We begin next morning with a new kind of hike--we will march in a line (greater visual effect) behind a "leader".  At each stop, the leader goes to the rear and the next person becomes leader and must choose a destination for us.  Sure enough---people noticed our "march" and out of curiosity (I suppose) were willing to engage us.
Leaving the famous "range" night club area---Trish leads us to our next stop.
And a great one it was---At another club called The Stage Door. (focuses on children)  This pretty lady told us all about their home schooling program and assorted ongoing projects such as movie night and a documentary on homelessness being filmed by their father.  Just days later her pretty face and story was featured on CBS nightly news.
Next, we are led to the Oasis club.
Where Linda invited us in for a 30 minute Q&A.  The takeaway for me was that really good, warm, community can be generated anywhere and a pretty good clubhouse can be built for about $500.
The spunky lady leading this nightime adventure is Joann---my co-host.  She is famous for her creative ideas.  This one we called a "spooky walk sing sing"----because we boldly marched into the spooky areas with candlelight---singing christmas carols to people living in bushes and other odd places.
We returned to the Stage door and serenaded these kids--who came bounding out of the bus they are living in.  Despite their circumstances, they seemed spirited and happy.  They too were featured on the CBS nightly news.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Oh sweet people--I've only begun to report this saga.  In part two I will report how we got seriously heart to heart with slab citizens. I will show you a remarkable walking stick that put really good shoes on all these kids.

9 comments:

Sondra said...

HOW exciting...I hope to visit the slabs next time I get out that way!!

Spork said...

Wow, you all are having too much fun Randy... Great story!

Jool said...

Incredible to read! I look forward to the next installment. What an interesting study in environment and humanity.
--Jool

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

We spent a couple weeks there last winter and loved it! Got friends out there that come every year. It's a place to be experienced and you can't describe it till you been there yourself.

We will be back!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard
http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/

Gracie said...

Slab City is a conglomeration of desert dwellers. It is an extraordinary community indeed. Some are permanent residents who live in shelters like old trailer shells or lean tos. The people are peaceful, helpful and self-sufficient. The key to the community is self-sufficiency.
Cities would love to get rid of their homeless and have them go to the Slabs, but the problem with that is – there’s limited space and zero amenities such as food, clothing, shelter. There’s no water or public restrooms. There are no sewage plants and no garbage pickup. It’s like camping in a junk yard.
It’s a myth that everything is free at the slabs. Don’t go there thinking about trying to beg, the Slabbers have nothing to give. Don’t go there without a place to stay, food and water.
It’s not Mecca. (Mecca’s up the road a peace.)

farmlady said...

This is so fascinating! I love the spirit with which your group came into the Slabs and established an immediate rapport.
Isn't this a better way... to invite yourselves into a different kind of lifestyle (that some of these folks didn't really choose) than be a zoo like observer?
I admire your decision to choose this "new travel style".

BlackSheep said...

Randy, I have to admire your being able to engage nearly anyone!! I have been in Q-zite exactly 1 month, and have been practicing your approach here on homeless, and it works!! Almost everyone wants to talk to somebody!! I have met some really interesting people here just by slowly engaging them!! Keep it up, you're making peoples lives a bit brighter!

Steve said...

I was just there visiting a friend yesterday and am sorry I missed seeing you guys. Next time perhaps.

katrina said...

great story, i can't wait for the next installment!