After saying goodbye to our friends at Quartzsite, we drove all of 20 miles west to Blythe, California. The KOA was right next to the Colorado River that looked pretty shallow, but still had a fast current in the middle. It was chore day – groceries, shopping and uploading and posting our blogs.
This trip is a little different; we don’t have much of an itinerary, and so I try to figure out where we’re going right before we go there. Since we were headed to Slab City (not an well-known locale, to be sure), we got two, slightly differing GPS locations for it. I also got a more general direction, 3 miles northeast of Niland. We were good to go.
The 120-mile drive from Blythe to Niland was pleasant. We traveled past many farms, watered by the Colorado, no doubt and had lunch at Algodones Sand Dunes. We reached Niland, and sailed through town, following the instructions on our Garmin. Nine miles north of town, we reached a Border Patrol checkpoint. While cameras recorded our rig, an agent and his dog sniffed around. Another agent had a desultory conversation with us. She asked where we had come from and I said “Quartzsite, Arizona”. “What were you doing there?” she asked. As it turned out, she claimed she had never heard of the huge crowd of RVers there. It seemed strange to me, but maybe she was just messing with us. Before we departed, I asked her how far up Slab City was. “You passed it. You need to go west on Main Street in Niland to get there.” So we turned around, with the Garmin stating “Recalculating, recalculating” and eventually found Slab City. As it turned out, both GSP locations given to us were fairly close to where we ended up camping, but the Garmin still thought we should go north for 14 miles or so. We can’t figure out how it could be so wrong.
We found a relatively secluded spot in the scrubby desert. There’s not much to Slab City – a meeting hall, a stage with old sofas for patrons, and a whole lot of old, decrepit motorhomes spread all over. There are also a lot of newer rigs camped out all over the place. The weather is warm and the camping is free. Good enough.
Today we visited Salvation Mountain, created by Leonard Knight, a folk artist who has been working on his labor of love for 30 years. Leonard is 79 now and is having trouble taking care of his mountain. He’s hoping to obtain an $80,000 grant from Congress and to make sure that Salvation Mountain is maintained forever. It should be. His message is simple: God loves everyone. We asked him what inspired him to create this enormous testament to faith and he replied “God spanked me hard fifty years ago. It was the most beautiful spanking in the world.” An amazing man with a spectacular work of art.
We also visited the Imperial Wildlife Area, a marshy area on the edge of the Salton Sea. We did see a few Egrets, and lots of gulls and other birds we couldn’t identify because we always forget to bring the Sibley Bird Guide with us. There were a couple of buildings moldering in the salt, so we couldn’t resist photographing them. We saw a Lazy Daze parked near the shore and after Max, the Chihuahua, permitted us to, said hello to the lady there. Her husband was hunting and she was relaxing with the dogs.