We spent Christmas at a KOA campground owned by my sister (in-law, but heck, she’s still my sis) Roz
and her husband Cal
in the Colorado Desert near Niland, California. They call it “camping with a K,” and we had a nice cabin with indoor plumbing: my kind of kamping! We’d driven Linda’s dad all the way from Phoenix (4:15 without stopping, but we do stop…), and we’d enjoyed both the staff Christmas Eve party, and Christmas Day dinner, a spectacular service of ham, yam, taters, the best dinner rolls you’ve ever had, etc. If this is camping, I’m all for it! (Of course, the campground exists so that big recreational vehicles can stop, park, juice up, and – in this case at least – have a superb restaurant meal. Some people even live there.)
The Glamis North KOA is situated very close to, but not too close to, the famous Glamis sand dunes, where far too many drunk people roar over unscouted territory, pretending they’re BULLITT stunt drivers, in All-Terrain Vehicles. The Glamis North folks like their ATVs too, but they prefer to head out into the desert to explore. We did it ourselves last year. It’s tremendous fun.
Linda’s dad can’t ATV these days, so we asked our hosts to send us on a driving trip. Easy, they said: go to Slab City and Salvation Mountain! They asked us, “Have you seen INTO THE WILD?” And of course we had, but we’d never pegged the real locations. Slab City is the “last free place on Earth,” the concrete foundation of an abandoned WWII Marine barracks. There is no electricity, no water, no nothing. And no charge for any of this nothingness. So, well-off “snowbirds” park their RVs alongside impoverished squatters.
You get to Salvation Mountain just before Slab City. It was painted by a guy who loves his Jesus. His name is Leonard Knight, and that previous sentence doesn’t even begin to describe the ardor with which he has dressed this place. I went down and talked to him.
Let’s try some pix:
See if you can’t divine your own personal New Year’s message from these shots.
It’s up to you.
However you receive these heartfelt sentiments, please accept my very best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2011.