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Thursday, March 10, 2011

VACATION– Tour De Slabs (Chili Bob style)

(this post is about Wednesday, March 9, 2011)


Woke up to warmth, sunshine and good folks….  sipped our coffee a bit with Goofy Mary and Rich, and I assisted Seanny Boy with a little wrenching on his satellite dish.  I held it while he wrenched.   Steve and Rich did some configuring on his battery situation and then it was time for….. Tour De Slabs (Chili Bob style)

Chili Bob is Official Tour Guide and knows all the stops and starts, backroads and cow paths, here's and there's around The Slabs and the surrounding communities.  He’s been coming here for 5 or 6 years now, and besides the natural wonders, he also knows the best places to stop for donuts and coffee!~


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He escorted us about in his vehicle, showing us the pet cemetery, the canal, and the library.  Many full time travelers who lose their pets don’t have a place to bury their ashes or remains.  So there is a sad little part of The Slabs where they are laid to rest.  It is said some of the owners ashes are brought back here too….

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The canal leads alongside the eastern shore of the Slabs, and is now fenced in, but further down the fences are not surrounding it.  This is used for irrigation of crops in the Imperial Valley.  The lush green fields around this area grow a large variety of produce, all handled by irrigation canals like this.

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This is the Library… started by a gal named Peggy, who is now buried at the front door.  Totally on your honor to take out books, return books, donate books or just look around.  We got so busy inside looking at titles that I forgot to take anymore pics!   Someone is doing some destruction to a portion of it, and hope they return it back to usable condition, with the water fountain and other items that I had seen in photos in the past.

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From there we went to the golf course…  Yes, there is a Golf Course here.  Called Gopher Flats.  It is just about all “in the rough” when you play here, but what can you expect for the desert?  Again, the honor system for you green fees.  They also have a box of clubs available if you forgot yours.  And a rake to take care of the “greens”.   (Please repair and of your divots you may make, in courtesy of the next player)

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From there, we went on over to two huge holding tanks from when The Slabs was a Naval base.  They have now been decorated with artistic expressions of creativity.  I saw Mike and Heidi of The VanTramps names noted in a heart.  Hey… I know them from their blog!   http://www.vantramps.com


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Now it was time to head over to the natural hot springs, making a “hot tub” of sorts.  A few patrons were there, in the raw, so I was kind to not take any photos of them au natural.   On the other side of the springs is a diverted area that dumps the water down into a cement chamber which serves as a shower for some of the folks here at the Slabs.   The water used to be warmer and flow faster before someone has channeled off some for a few nearby trailers.  But it still serves the purpose to allow a body to get a layer of dust off.

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Now we toured over the Mud Pots… burbling up mounds of slimy grey mud from geothermal action underground.  There are a number of geothermal plants in the area, harnessing the energy for electricity production, and new ones being built every day.  Stevio, of course, had to stick his finger in some of the bloop bloop blooping up mud!

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The stuff comes burping out the top like slow-moving volcanoes…  and kinda stinky sulfur smell….

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Now it was time to tour some of the lush green agriculture of the Imperial Valley.  Here is a shot of fields of Romaine lettuce being harvested.  The workers ride out to the fields in a bus, that tows portable outhouses and hand washing stations behind each bus.  No doubt to prevent any ecoli from infesting the produce.  Workers gotta go pee too, right?   I am sure in the past, before all the ecoli scares, they would just go in the fields, next to the food you and I eat every day.  No wonder, huh?  You are miles and miles from any town or plumbing while you are at work in the fields.   So the portable bathrooms are a sense of prevention?

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Now Chili Bob took us to the Salton Sea….  This was slated to be a huge resort area back in the 60’s and was built up to start attracting tourists.  Some things have happened to the water table, and something about the pesticides from surrounding runoff has caused issues with the plant life and oxygen in the waters.  Fish have been planted and it’s become a huge reserve for migrating birds too.  Sonny Bono has a big nature preserve area here.  But the tourists have not caught on, and future development of the area is questionable.


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We saw this posted at the Library, so I took a shot of it….

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From there, Chili Bob brought us up around a campground and picnic area.  They had been doing digging there for road beds and riprock along the water’s edge.  Obsidian black stones were abundant so he gathered some up for us!  He wanted to send back a 100 pound rock like his did for his daughter, but we said “No thanks” with images of Lucy in the movie The Long Long Trailer came to mind!  LOL

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We did a little stop in Calipatria, the next town to the south.  There is a flagpole there noting the depth of the sea level.  Yes, up at the TOP is sea level.  This whole valley is BELOW sea level.  

Go figger! 184 feet to be exact.


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Now it was time for a coffee break… with a free donut!  Yes, Chili Bob knows all the good places, and this one little restaurant/bakery place would give you a free donut if you bought a cup of coffee.   They were very good, so we bought 2 boxes of them to bring back to The Slabs for breakfast with the others on Thursday morning.  At only 2.50 a box, they were a bargain!

Back up the road to Niland, the town closest to The Slabs.  There is plaque there on a cornerstone with information about The Slabs, which had been known as Camp Dunlap.

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Now we had to stop in a newly opened restaurant in town, called The Buckshot for lunch!   The food was very good and we enjoyed a break from all our touring.  It was a way to say Thank You to Chili Bob for all his great tour guiding travels that morning. 

Once we got back to The Slabs, we did drive through Poverty Flats ---  yes, there are some messy and depressed areas out there.  Folks don’t bother to pick up.  They live in some crappy trailers.  But to each their own.  Sure beats living in a homeless shelter or a cardboard box by a railroad track.  Right?


Now we stopped by the Oasis Club.  A high stakes poker game was in action, and a few of our buddies were reaping in the winnings!   I think the top pot was $18?   Wheeeeeeee  Good for Goofy Mary and Rich!

The tarped off area to the left is a new rock garden someone has been working on, and we also toured another Library, put together by Earl and Cookie.  It is out the back area of the Oasis Club.

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When we got back to our camping spaces, we saw that Seanny, the Canuckie Boyscout, had collected more pallets to be cut up for firewood.  Always be prepared.   So he “supervised” while Steveio and Rich unloaded his truck.  Heh heh

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As night fell, we gathered around the campfire again

And so it goes, another day at The Slabs…..

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  1. great tour of the slabs..looks like you saw all the 'sights'!..thanks for the 'ride a long'

  2. Great tour, don't know if I'm ready for crawling down into the shower though, looks like there is a lot to see and do. Hope you are enjoying your stay. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

  3. What a wonderful tour of the slabs. Many people write about and post pictures of a small part of it, but you seem to have covered more than I've ever seen! I hope you have a great stay there.

    By the way, remember when the big farmers in CA didn't even provide porta-potties for any of the workers, and no privacy for the women? The workers were treated worse than animals. Thank God for Cesar Chavez! I boycotted lettuce in Cincinnati during that time.

  4. Best tour I've read of the Slabs. Thank you. Loved all the pictures. Glad you took a picture of the Salton Sea sign, very interesting. I grew up in So. Cal. and visited the Salton Sea as a young child but I don't remember much. I'm sure it has changed. Long, long trailer movie...one of my favorites. Glad you left the 100# rock behind!!

  5. Hey Karen & Stevio, Say "hi" to Chilli Bob for us if you get another chance :) He is a great guy! It has been a few years since we were there, very surprised our "heart" is still on the water tank! Very cool that it was and you saw it though! The slabs is quite a place! I can't see myself ever going back there though, last time ended with me in the hospital on a ventilator for a week(month long hospital stay). Apparently I don't do well with the air quality in that valley! It's a shame, as there are some very interesting things to see there.

    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"

  6. What a grand tourguide you are for us, Karen. Thank you. Enjoyed the tour. Lessie (TARDIS)

  7. Great posting on "The Slabs". Have been there many times. Hope you have a chance to visit Joshua Tree National Park. I live four miles from the 29 Palms entrance and play there a couple of times a week. Great camping. Enjoy.


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