Hidden Desert Treasures
I was recently introduced to a wonderful book called Into the Wild, written by Jon Krakauer. This book was written about a young man by the name of Christopher Johnson McCandless. Chris was a young man who was extremely against conforming to the norms of todays society. He spent the majority of his time with his head buried in books filled with tales of adventure and life on the road. Christopher left his home and family after college to follow his own desire for adventure. His ultimate dream was to make it to Alaska for his greatest adventure of all. During Chris’s trek across America he meets fascinating people and travels to many beautiful places. Reading the stories of such strange and beautiful places inspired me to explore some of the odd and out of the way places in my surrounding desert environment that most travelers are not aware of.
The first place I was interested in researching was mentioned in the Jon Krakauer book Into the Wild. This is a place known to the locals as the slabs, or slab city. Slab city is actually the abandon Camp Dunlap Marine Training Facility. It is located three miles east of Niland, California. This 640 acre compound is located 120 feet below sea level in the desert near the Salton Sea (SlabCityOrg.). The compound was an active military traing ground for U.S. troops during World War II. It beagn operating in 1942, and operations ceased in 1946. Soon after the buildings were dismantled and sold leaving only the foundations in their place, thus providing the name the slab city. After the compound closed down a few service men remained and the are has been inhabited every since (slabcity.org )
Every November as the weather turns cold across the rest of the country, some five thousand Snowbirds, drifters and sundry vagabonds congregate in this otherworldly setting to live on the cheap under the sun. The slabs functions as the seasonal capital of a teeming itinerant society (Krakauer...