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.