Friday, December 31, 2010

Slab City

I'm in Slab City, California (near the Salton Sea).  It's been weeks since I could get onto a computer.  I'm not sure when I can do Internet again, so don't expect comments or replies from me.

Isaac, Jen, and I didn't have much success finding a boat to Hawaii.  Yachts & sailboats rarely go to Hawaii this time of year, and port security for freighters is way too high to even get near a port much less into it to even ask people.  Everybody we talked to was pretty clueless.  It's probably worth trying again in warmer months.

Both Isaac's and Jen's families wanted them home for Christmas, so both families bought them round trip plane tickets back to Illinois.  They want to return to San D after the holidays and, this time, hitch south to Costa Rica (and maybe hookup with our friend Aaron on his farm there).  I don't like San D and didn't want to wait around there, plus I feel the risk of hitching without ID, much less passport, past the border just isn't worth it right now.

So I started walking east, through miles upon miles of mcmansions in Chula Vista (a SD burb).  I thought I'd see if I could make it back to my parents' by Christmas.  But the rains and wind hit, and I hunkered down in a baseball field bathroom "foyer" for 3 days until the rain sort of passed.  The next day I started walking and came to Lower Otay Lake.  I was absolutely overjoyed to finally be out of the city and hit the beautiful countryside.  But it started raining again.  Border patrols were everywhere, and a man and woman stopped to see why in the world I was walking in the middle of nowhere in the rain, 4 miles from the Mexican border.  The woman seemed way too serious, but the man was friendly.  He seemed like a classic, young, idealistic military type.  He said he thought my living without money was "cool".  They told me where a campground was miles up the road, and took off.  Then they screeched a u-y and came back.  The man asked if I wanted a ride to the campsite, and the woman seemed annoyed at him.  He told me there were hot showers there.  There was a shelter there which I stayed in until the rain subsided.  Then I found a tree outside the ground and set up my hammock high in its branches.  And I went into the campsite and took a hot shower.  Thought I was in heaven.  It rained all night and I got kind of wet, but stayed warm.

I walked further until I found a creek and a bridge.  I camped under the bridge.  The sun finally came out so I could dry my bag and wash my clothes.  Border patrols were everywhere, watching my every move.  But they were all super friendly with me.

I decided to hitch up Honey Springs road, more away from the border, than Highway 78,  A man picked me up right away.  I asked him what day it was and was surprised to learn it was Christmas Eve.  He was really kind and took me way out of his way to I-5.  He gave me a burrito, too.  Very few cars were going east on 5.  One man with "Jesus" and a big fish on his TShirt stopped and handed me $10.  I then decided it would be better to hitch the road crossing under I-5, and found out it was highway 78.  It was the road going north to 79, which heads to the Salton Sea.  I had had it in my mind days before to go that way anyway, so this was working out!  I'd heard Slab City was that way, so maybe I could check it out.

Hundreds of cars passed me by.  People have more important things to do on Christmas Eve than practice the teachings of the one who's birth they celebrate.  Finally a couple Jehovah's Witnesses (who don't celebrate Christmas) stopped and gave me a ride, going way out of their way to the town of Julian, but preaching my ear off in the process.  I was told it was going to rain again, and my tarps were leaky, so I hunkered down at an awning at an elementary school.  I found lots of apples in Julian, and lots of good food thrown away at the school.  The sheriff kept watching me, but didn't seem to be bothered I was staying around the school.  It rained crazy that night.  But the sun came out on Chrismas and I started hitching again.  Hundreds of cars passed me by that day until a 70-something man named Fred stopped.  He said he thought I was a Pacific Trail hiker.  He asked me what I did, and seemed extremely irritated that I lived without money.  I actually appreciated finally meeting somebody willing to tell me that to my face.  Hundreds do it anonymously on the Internet, but few to my face.  That's what I like about old people, they often speak their heart.  Anyway, we discussed it and went round and round with my philosophies until he started getting what I was saying and doing.  He then got really friendly and we enjoyed each others' company thoroughly.  He told me about Slab City and Salvation Mountain and Leonard Knight (who created the mountain).  He took me all the way to Brawley.

I dumpstered some food there, and a couple stopped and handed me a delicious Chinese dinner-to-go.  I started walking up hiway 111 toward Slab City.  There were lots of feral date trees, and a fig tree, so I stocked up their fruits.  I found an abandoned warehouse and slept there in my hammock.  The next morning I got a ride right away from a woman named Helen.  She took me to her home town of Nyland.  I started walking to Slab City from there, and a super nice Slab resident named Evergreen gave me a ride in, and introduced me to some folks.  A woman named Karen showed me a place to camp near here little trailer.  We've quickly become good friends.  I've met some good people here so far, and am glad I'm here.  It's nice to rest.  I'm clueless how long I'll be here.  Maybe until the winter passes.  I had no plans to be here, but here I am.  It's a strange, funny place, and it's growing on me.  I met Leonard Knight and his Salvation Mountain, too.  A beautiful spirit he is. 

For days I felt really lost and disconcerted.  But, deep down, this is state of mind I so wanted to experience.  It's a beautiful thing, believe me, to find yourself in a position of being totally lost, discouraged, and full of doubt - ready to throw in the towel on everything; but, then, to take those feelings and sit with them.  Find out where they're coming from.  Hand them over to God, if you want to use that lingo.  Then watch the infinite Peace come.  It's absolutely splendid.  I've been getting into the Baghavad Gita again, and seeing again its shining splendor.  For me, it shines light on Christianity, revealing it's deeper mysteries, rather than diminishes it. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I admire your willingness and determination to follow a path so few dare travel. It reinforces my belief that anything is possible and that we each have our unique path to follow.

    I think I have an idea of what it feels like to be filled (or so it seems) with doubt and wonder if what you're doing even makes sense to you any more, let alone others. (BTW if it's any consolation, it absolutely does, to this one person on the other side of the ocean)

    It's the point (in equivalent experiences of mine) when I remember that if it's effort-full, it's inefficient and not in alignment with nature's poignantly effortless and elegant ways.

    That's when losing the effort and yielding completely to the experience of 'being' is the best thing I can do.

    This is not meant as advice. Just sharing what is true for me with you.

    I wish you everything your heart desires this new year. For what it's worth, you are held fondly in this person's heart :)

    Thanks for being here/there :)

  2. Dear Suelo, I've never commented before, but I have been checking in with your blog regularly for years now. I'm not moneyless (maybe "money less and less" hehe). And I just want you to know how much your blog and your journey is a source of light in the darkness for me. Thank you!

  3. I just started following you as I've always been annoyed with money and wished i didn't have to deal with it. so, the U said, OK, you don't have to deal with it anymore and the government came and took everything, including my driver license. well, it's turned out to be the biggest blessing, i've grown spiritually, become more compassionate (although i'm still a smart-ass) and wrote amazing music. i'm a woman but i have done my share of hitchhiking in my life and never had a bad experience. everything i need comes at the right time and now my music is worldwide.

    i asked the small still voice that's been guiding me ~ why? it said, "because you agreed to this." OK :) i don't hitchhike anymore but i still wander, with no money stream, only when the voice tells me to go. i just left Mt. Shasta to be with my newly widowed mom. now, it's telling me to go to SF and get my eletrik scooter. i was willing to let it go but that's not what's happening.

    i'm having fun...i thought you would understand :)

  4. Incredible! God Bless you and your Message. I've let the VanDweller's community know you're at the Slabs, on Yahoo Groups VanDwellers. Hopefully they'll treat you nice. : )

  5. Yes, the vandwellers will treat you right. Good people all! Good moneyless Fortune to you in oh11!

  6. Sounds like a great path. Enjoy. I sure do.

  7. I've wanted to visit Slab City for a long time. I keep the idea of it tucked away for my future.

  8. You need a theme song and this is it:)

  9. Suelo! So good to hear from you. Thanks for your open book! If you ever feel like coming back to LA, we're here...
    I think I will be traveling with the twins again, come summer. Wanna go to Rainbow with us?

  10. Daniel... I used to live in Julian, for 9 months after graduating CU, at Camp Stevens, which is about a mile out of town on the way toward the Anza Borrego. Great place! If you find yourself back there, call me! I've still got close friends there. Looking forward to more posts from Slab City! Damian

  11. Dan! I saw a documentary once on the Salton sea and the people at Slab city. pretty amazing place. just the place for you, an amazing guy!

  12. Daniel, you're right about the Bhagavad Gita. It reveals a deeper truth within the gospels.

  13. Daniel,I am glad you have found your way to happiness once again. While at the slabs,ask around for a guy by the name of Tumbleweed from Montana; if ya meet him,he's good people,tell him Rob from Facebook and Rainbow Family said howdy! have a great time brother!

  14. My job doesn't even pay a sustaining wage and is continually putting irrational demands on me. The older I get the less I can justify putting up with such irrational and selfish demands with absolutely NOTHING to show for it. Daniel is a brave man for refusing to comply with such a vile and decadent money based system.

  15. thinking about you right now and hoping all is well. can't wait for a catch up post. be safe.

  16. Hey Daniel, glad to hear you are alive and kicking ^_^ Kinda bummed I wasn't able to make it out to meet up with you, Isaac, & Jen in Colorado before you headed to Cali. But seems luck (or fate) is smilling on me :) Me and a bud have made up our minds come hell or high water we are meeting up in March, gonna head to Washington and hike the PCT. I've got no plans after that and we will prob end up going our on ways, any way I still would love to meet up. I think it would be a fun and fruitful time. Would be nice to share some conversations. Any how I threw you an email from my gmail account so whenever you get a chance bud Im looking forward to hearing from you.
    Much love to you & may peace bless your journey.

  17. I just cannot get this place out of my head. I have made plans when I retire (2-3- rs) to sell everything and move to slab city where I can be and find my true self. I just cannot get enough information on it. I have fallen in love with a place I have never been with no water or electric, just peace and solitude