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The lure of Slab City

February 14, 2010|By BROOKE RUTH, Digital Media News Editor
  • FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO A view from the home of &#8220
FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO
A view from the home of “

NILAND — Off and on for three months Clint Slaughenhaupt has lived in an abandoned trailer in Slab City.

When he hasn’t been at the Slabs he has been traveling in San Diego, Virginia and New York City. Slaughenhaupt is originally from Colorado.

Despite all of the places he has visited he has found none like Slab City.

“It’s definitely the last place of its kind,” he said.

Slab City, which is by no means an actual city, is a former military base that is now a free camping area utilized by snowbirds, wanderers and others.

The reasons for living in the area are as varied as the characters that live there. The lack of authority, the cheap living, the distance from society and the quietness of the desert are just a few that were named by those who reside there.

A woman that declined to give her name and has lived at the Slabs year-round for a year and four months said she came to the Slabs to see what it and the people that lived there were like. She also wanted to know if she could live somewhere, like the Slabs, that has no electricity or running water.

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Getting away from family in Washington was another reason, she said. But now she says she is ready to return to her home state to get away from the theft in the area.

But, others, like the Queen of the Slabs, as she is best known, never plan to leave.

She has lived in the Slabs for the past 17 to 18 years. She keeps busy by growing various plants and decorating the yard that is as big as she desires. She also spends time watching her television and talking on her CB radio, both of which are powered by solar panels.

Like the woman that declined to give her name, she too, came to get away from family — her adult children. She moved to the area from Delano when she was in her 50s. She is now 74.

Others wander in and get stuck, like Justin Davis, who has lived at the Slabs for four years. He first came when a Slab City resident picked him up when he was hitchhiking. He has been there since.

It’s the sense of community that keeps him there, he said.

Tony Grigley, who first came to the Slabs when he played bass at one of the weekly outdoor concerts, returned Monday on his motor home travels.

What struck him on his first visit to the area and brought him back for a second time was “the freedom of people living and really doing what they want,” he said.

>> Digital Media News Editor Brooke Ruth can be reached at 760-335-4665 or bruth@ivpressonline.com

FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO
A view from the home of “One Can” is shown with a stream of glass bottles and ceramic pottery decorating her patch of property Feb. 5 at Slab City near Niland.
FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO
“One Can”, 74, known as “Queen of the Slabs,” talks about what brought her to live and remain in the Slabs for 18 years ago, on Feb. 5.
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