No plans lead to Slab City (1 Viewer)

babywavy

Rambler
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
20
Location
portland
left Santa Cruz with no destination in mind, just "South". It had been a cold, wet two weeks in Portland prior, and Cruz hadn't been much hotter; I was ready for socal heat. I had gotten a screaming deal on this baby blue 67 Econoline, the first generation. It's named Cast Iron, after itself. Its got a certain charisma, like you find in old travelers. Beaten but not whipped. The wideset headlight eyes are optimistic, in wonder. It's robot teeth grill eats bugs and spews white smoke from a shaking bottle when hot. Children press their face against the windows of their parents modern car while it overtakes me. I don't drive slow for lack of power. The backyard swapped 5.0 makes Iron confusingly press-you-back-in-your-torn-seat fast. It's scary to drive. the steerings got more slop than an heiress pig and that means even with my best vigilance, some, maybe a lot of lane sway is gonna happen. I only hit the rumbles a half dozen times, but I must have looked suspect. On top of that the speedometer indicates by pinging back and forth, sometimes violently. Your speed is roughly in the middle. 60 is in between 40 and 80. I got good at guessing speed, and waze helped confirm. She's a stick too, but a three on the tree. Ever shifted an automatic truck where the stalk is on the wheel? It's like that, except an H instead of an easy line, and a clutch, and 50 year old synchros. You're gonna need to get in 2nd before you can get back into 1st but 3rd is a smooth pull home.

The interior would feel at home in any Fallout game. It's rusty, and sunlight shines through numerous rust holes in the body. The presumably factory inside paint is a sterile white, standing stark against the irrepressible rust that covers almost as much surface area. I have painted leftover salmon house paint on to sections which were worst off, after some wirewheel rust removal. Welds have either come undone or rusted through completely on struts that hold the roof, and it rattles. I have shoved earplugs in the gap, and they work well enough to control the clamour. A section the size of magic Johnson's hand has rotted out just above the terminal tailpipe, allowing exhaust into the cabin, forcing me to open every window. the back doors don't lock, so I installed a hasp and combo lock, the rear window locks by chain I have superglued, cant lock the drivers door by key, hell, the beast has very few securities that I haven't beaten into it. It's got character and the character sucks. But it's not her fault. And you can't hate her for it. She's made it this far.

***

I started down highway 101. It's got a reputation as one of the best scenic drives in the country. It lives up to it, even compared to Blue Ridge Parkway in autumn, an admission no Virginian wants to make. The curves roll my antique at frightening angles, forcing use of what I learned from delivering pizzas in a Miata at 18. brake smoothly, go wide on the entry to curves and watch how the throttle upsets the rear. The damn thing rolls harder than the first night of Coachella, and is as comfortable as the third. What would have been a concern at 100 in my Miata was sweat-on-brow terrifying at the speed limit in Cast Iron.

I drove 55, people gave me a break. They saw what I was working with and I always used slow lanes and pulled over to let pass. I feel you BMW, I'm doing my best here. Go around, work your engine. Use your status symbol for something other than it's shiny paint.

My friend Benji had messaged me, seeing that I offered a ride down the coast. It wasn't too far off my non-existent route to pick him up, and I could use the company to comfort my dog, who was troubled by the noise and wind. He was used to trains, but this was a different, smellier beast. I picked Benji up, and asked where he was heading. Slab City he said. To say the name rang a bell would be an understatement. It sounded my memories like a goddamn cathedral, reminding me of being a highschool squirt with dreams of travel. I had seen documentaries on the "Last Free Place on Earth", and told myself I would go, if I had just had the money. I'd spent at least two nights awake, watching any kind of media about slabs I could years ago

But now I knew how to travel without money. I could go to Slab City.

"I'll take you all the way there"

We had 500 miles to go, and the van's temperature had turned from worrying to a problem. Instead of it's usual haunt at the lower line, it was creeping towards the middle, and smelling HOT. I stopped the van when it started to get about 2/3rds of the way to the the middle to let it cool, standing by the road smoking a joint while we waited the couple hours for it to stop steaming. Each boilover came sooner and sooner, making distance slow.

We drove like this for a couple days, swapping drivers. Benji had never driven a 3 on the tree, but he learned quickly and drove like a champ. We stopped to give my dogs his final round of shots before the slabs, about 100 miles away, and set off again on what we thought was the final stretch. The engine was heating up more than ever now, coolant having been replaced by water from the gallon jug I'm holding in the picture. Water doesn't hold heat like antifreeze, and we were stopping every 30 miles to cool off. We reached the point where we were so close, I decided we would push the rickety van to slabs on this stretch, engine be damned. While Benji drove, I opened the "Doghouse" covering to the engine, located right in between our seats and a flood of hot engine air rushed into the cabin. I reached to the carbeurator which, curiously had lean/rich adjustment knob and cranked the richness up. You see, more cool gas hits the cylinders, the more it saps heat, at the expense of gas mileage, a lot of it. Did I mention the gas gauge didn't work either? We had filled up till it was spilling out before this stretch, but god knows how far that would take us now. The temp needle was within millimeters of where I had marked the "stop the fuck now or it might blow" line, and hung there like a sword of Damocles, forcing me to check it more often than the radar-like speedometer. If the engine blew i'd be stranded, with no way to get anywhere, stuck with a boat anchor and a tow bill I would never pay. That would be the end of Cast Iron. But, with the richness adjusted as far up as comfortable, we were able to make it within 5 miles of slabs, before a stopped train blocked our route. It had hit a car, or a car had hit it, either way the cops told us it would be hours before the train could move. Benji navigated a route around, and I backed up, straight into a ditch, in front of the cops who offered no help at all, but didn't search my van like I would have guessed. I was able to drive it out with the help of my travelling compatriot outside the van, and we made it into Niland, the closest town to slabs, late at night by way of some slippery dirt roads I haven't found again. The tail of my very front heavy van fished controllably. "She got her dancing shoes on tonight". I guess the van is a she. We finally got Beal road, the main road in Slabs and I drove for a while until I found a spot that looked empty. It's where Scott is now.

When the sun rose I saw I had parked in the middle of a van graveyard of sorts, with a burned out Chevy Astro right near me, the skeleton of a burned out RV behind. When an RV burns out it leaves a sickly bow structure of framing steeI. I started driving around very soon after waking up. benji headed off on foot.I drove out towards enterance, and saw a group of kids my age waving. I waved back and drove past to the hot springs, where I put on a swimsuit and got in. The sign says clothing optional, but really, if youre not a fuckin prude you go in the nude. I swam for a bit, and headed back. I saw Benji walking with a very seasoned looking Traveller, with ridiculoiusly short shorts. That's Bo. He's a very interesting kind person, and the only one in the slabs with such booty shorts. Bo told us Doc Spenser had work and we headed there. I worked for a few hours, spreading hay and digging a hole for a post. The payoff was an amazing tuna sandwich, fresh vegetables soup (veggies are mouth wateringly rare in the slabs), and I find out what could have been some cash too, if we had asked. So it goes in the slabs, be a good haggler. I drove back towards the hot springs at the end of the day. I saw the same group of kids waving at me, more enthusiastically this time, so I stopped.

"Hey, I saw you waving at me!" I said. "We wave at everybody!". I felt a little deflated, but they were friendly enough and I decided to hang out with them. I ended up spending the whole day, getting to know them and the slab culture. The sun went down and a fire was lit in the heart shaped firepit and we gathered around.

A girl who was also new was being very disrespectful, bragging about her cash, acting better than everyone else. Her jokes made no sense, seemed like grasps at any strip of attention. A void in coversation was gobbled up, gentrified by her narcissistic nonsense. She mocked Moonshine and Raven, the founders of the camp, by addressing them sarcastically as "Shaman". "No need to be rude in my camp", Moonshine replied, inching towards aggression. Thats when I first heard the most sure fighting words in Slabs. "Your camp? I though slab city was free". If you hear this phrase, perk up. You might get a free show. Slab City is free, free from police presence, but that means you're free to get your ass kicked by everyone here too. I reminded her of this, clumsily, and she became more incensed, starting to buck up even more. "I hope you're not talking about me" she backlessly cautioned. "I am talking about you". This shut her up, a miracle, so the flustered girl went to Cliffy to ask for a shot of vodka, something she had never provided but asked for often. He told her that her "energy wasn't welcome here" and she straggled back to camp. Her aquaintence picked up on the vibe more quickly than her, and corralled the girl who was henceforth known as Stink Egg out of the camp, never to be seen again. From what I heard she had been in the camp for three days, slowly becoming a problem. I had come in at the end of things. What a time to be arriving. Moonshine thanked me for saying what we were all thinking, and we continued on free from Stink Egg's foul presence. I asked if I could set up camp next to them, and they were happy to let me. I would say this for the next few days, that I was just camping next to them, until I found myself an osmosised member of The Medicine Post.

I woke up the next morning to Cliffy doing donuts in the sand, still tripping from the night before. Cliffy is a 24 hour party person. Cliffys car is a 24hr party vehicle, which I have witnessed getting air several times.i hopped in my van and did my own donuts. I have a 5 liter; yeehaw. I bury it to the axles after a couple cookies, parallel to the main road entering slab city at such an angle it's almost a joke. I figure, this is a truck kinda place, and people who like trucks like to pull stuff with trucks, because pulling stuff with trucks is a cheap way to feel very powerful at the expense of nobody, which is normally not the case. I walked the 20 feet back to camp and saw Moonshine with a brown vial, dosing herself as she hadn't tripped the night before. I asked if I could trip with, and she agreed. Moonshine dropped the doses on both our palms, and we licked the sour, familiar liquid up.
 
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babywavy

Rambler
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
20
Location
portland
When I was driving it people approached me all the time with stories of nostalgic afternoons, dads who drove them in it, engines that stank just like mine. It's a vehicle of culture, thats for sure.
 

Faceplant

Mmmm . . . Taste the Ballast!
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
546
Location
Boulder Creek Ca
When I was driving it people approached me all the time with stories of nostalgic afternoons, dads who drove them in it, engines that stank just like mine. It's a vehicle of culture, thats for sure.

What became of your van? Some of the earliest memories I have were of my dad’s 64 Econoline window van he used as his work vehicle. I was about 5 or 6 at the time.
 

babywavy

Rambler
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
20
Location
portland
What became of your van? Some of the earliest memories I have were of my dad’s 64 Econoline window van he used as his work vehicle. I was about 5 or 6 at the time.


I stored it near slabs, only $15 a month and I can pay when I collect. I'm sure I can soange that up before next season. It's having engine issues that I couldn't resolve in time, and the steering so shit I only like to take it short trips now
 
D

Deleted member 25534

I deleted myself
I love those old Econolines, had a 2nd gen myself for awhile before the transmission went, had to ditch it unfortunately but I'd like to find another one someday. Driving those 60s vans is a skill all on their own. Great story!
 

LoisLane23

Newbie
Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
7
Location
On the Road
What a wonderful story! You're a great writer. Thanks for sharing, and for reminding me of past memories. I once lived in a Dodge van that also had a doghouse and faulty gas gauge.
 
D

Deleted member 25220

I deleted myself
left Santa Cruz with no destination in mind, just "South". It had been a cold, wet two weeks in Portland prior, and Cruz hadn't been much hotter; I was ready for socal heat. I had gotten a screaming deal on this baby blue 67 Econoline, the first generation. It's named Cast Iron, after itself. Its got a certain charisma, like you find in old travelers. Beaten but not whipped. The wideset headlight eyes are optimistic, in wonder. It's robot teeth grill eats bugs and spews white smoke from a shaking bottle when hot. Children press their face against the windows of their parents modern car while it overtakes me. I don't drive slow for lack of power. The backyard swapped 5.0 makes Iron confusingly press-you-back-in-your-torn-seat fast. It's scary to drive. the steerings got more slop than an heiress pig and that means even with my best vigilance, some, maybe a lot of lane sway is gonna happen. I only hit the rumbles a half dozen times, but I must have looked suspect. On top of that the speedometer indicates by pinging back and forth, sometimes violently. Your speed is roughly in the middle. 60 is in between 40 and 80. I got good at guessing speed, and waze helped confirm. She's a stick too, but a three on the tree. Ever shifted an automatic truck where the stalk is on the wheel? It's like that, except an H instead of an easy line, and a clutch, and 50 year old synchros. You're gonna need to get in 2nd before you can get back into 1st but 3rd is a smooth pull home.

The interior would feel at home in any Fallout game. It's rusty, and sunlight shines through numerous rust holes in the body. The presumably factory inside paint is a sterile white, standing stark against the irrepressible rust that covers almost as much surface area. I have painted leftover salmon house paint on to sections which were worst off, after some wirewheel rust removal. Welds have either come undone or rusted through completely on struts that hold the roof, and it rattles. I have shoved earplugs in the gap, and they work well enough to control the clamour. A section the size of magic Johnson's hand has rotted out just above the terminal tailpipe, allowing exhaust into the cabin, forcing me to open every window. the back doors don't lock, so I installed a hasp and combo lock, the rear window locks by chain I have superglued, cant lock the drivers door by key, hell, the beast has very few securities that I haven't beaten into it. It's got character and the character sucks. But it's not her fault. And you can't hate her for it. She's made it this far.

***

I started down highway 101. It's got a reputation as one of the best scenic drives in the country. It lives up to it, even compared to Blue Ridge Parkway in autumn, an admission no Virginian wants to make. The curves roll my antique at frightening angles, forcing use of what I learned from delivering pizzas in a Miata at 18. brake smoothly, go wide on the entry to curves and watch how the throttle upsets the rear. The damn thing rolls harder than the first night of Coachella, and is as comfortable as the third. What would have been a concern at 100 in my Miata was sweat-on-brow terrifying at the speed limit in Cast Iron.

I drove 55, people gave me a break. They saw what I was working with and I always used slow lanes and pulled over to let pass. I feel you BMW, I'm doing my best here. Go around, work your engine. Use your status symbol for something other than it's shiny paint.

My friend Benji had messaged me, seeing that I offered a ride down the coast. It wasn't too far off my non-existent route to pick him up, and I could use the company to comfort my dog, who was troubled by the noise and wind. He was used to trains, but this was a different, smellier beast. I picked Benji up, and asked where he was heading. Slab City he said. To say the name rang a bell would be an understatement. It sounded my memories like a goddamn cathedral, reminding me of being a highschool squirt with dreams of travel. I had seen documentaries on the "Last Free Place on Earth", and told myself I would go, if I had just had the money. I'd spent at least two nights awake, watching any kind of media about slabs I could years ago

But now I knew how to travel without money. I could go to Slab City.

"I'll take you all the way there"

We had 500 miles to go, and the van's temperature had turned from worrying to a problem. Instead of it's usual haunt at the lower line, it was creeping towards the middle, and smelling HOT. I stopped the van when it started to get about 2/3rds of the way to the the middle to let it cool, standing by the road smoking a joint while we waited the couple hours for it to stop steaming. Each boilover came sooner and sooner, making distance slow.

We drove like this for a couple days, swapping drivers. Benji had never driven a 3 on the tree, but he learned quickly and drove like a champ. We stopped to give my dogs his final round of shots before the slabs, about 100 miles away, and set off again on what we thought was the final stretch. The engine was heating up more than ever now, coolant having been replaced by water from the gallon jug I'm holding in the picture. Water doesn't hold heat like antifreeze, and we were stopping every 30 miles to cool off. We reached the point where we were so close, I decided we would push the rickety van to slabs on this stretch, engine be damned. While Benji drove, I opened the "Doghouse" covering to the engine, located right in between our seats and a flood of hot engine air rushed into the cabin. I reached to the carbeurator which, curiously had lean/rich adjustment knob and cranked the richness up. You see, more cool gas hits the cylinders, the more it saps heat, at the expense of gas mileage, a lot of it. Did I mention the gas gauge didn't work either? We had filled up till it was spilling out before this stretch, but god knows how far that would take us now. The temp needle was within millimeters of where I had marked the "stop the fuck now or it might blow" line, and hung there like a sword of Damocles, forcing me to check it more often than the radar-like speedometer. If the engine blew i'd be stranded, with no way to get anywhere, stuck with a boat anchor and a tow bill I would never pay. That would be the end of Cast Iron. But, with the richness adjusted as far up as comfortable, we were able to make it within 5 miles of slabs, before a stopped train blocked our route. It had hit a car, or a car had hit it, either way the cops told us it would be hours before the train could move. Benji navigated a route around, and I backed up, straight into a ditch, in front of the cops who offered no help at all, but didn't search my van like I would have guessed. I was able to drive it out with the help of my travelling compatriot outside the van, and we made it into Niland, the closest town to slabs, late at night by way of some slippery dirt roads I haven't found again. The tail of my very front heavy van fished controllably. "She got her dancing shoes on tonight". I guess the van is a she. We finally got Beal road, the main road in Slabs and I drove for a while until I found a spot that looked empty. It's where Scott is now.

When the sun rose I saw I had parked in the middle of a van graveyard of sorts, with a burned out Chevy Astro right near me, the skeleton of a burned out RV behind. When an RV burns out it leaves a sickly bow structure of framing steeI. I started driving around very soon after waking up. benji headed off on foot.I drove out towards enterance, and saw a group of kids my age waving. I waved back and drove past to the hot springs, where I put on a swimsuit and got in. The sign says clothing optional, but really, if youre not a fuckin prude you go in the nude. I swam for a bit, and headed back. I saw Benji walking with a very seasoned looking Traveller, with ridiculoiusly short shorts. That's Bo. He's a very interesting kind person, and the only one in the slabs with such booty shorts. Bo told us Doc Spenser had work and we headed there. I worked for a few hours, spreading hay and digging a hole for a post. The payoff was an amazing tuna sandwich, fresh vegetables soup (veggies are mouth wateringly rare in the slabs), and I find out what could have been some cash too, if we had asked. So it goes in the slabs, be a good haggler. I drove back towards the hot springs at the end of the day. I saw the same group of kids waving at me, more enthusiastically this time, so I stopped.

"Hey, I saw you waving at me!" I said. "We wave at everybody!". I felt a little deflated, but they were friendly enough and I decided to hang out with them. I ended up spending the whole day, getting to know them and the slab culture. The sun went down and a fire was lit in the heart shaped firepit and we gathered around.

A girl who was also new was being very disrespectful, bragging about her cash, acting better than everyone else. Her jokes made no sense, seemed like grasps at any strip of attention. A void in coversation was gobbled up, gentrified by her narcissistic nonsense. She mocked Moonshine and Raven, the founders of the camp, by addressing them sarcastically as "Shaman". "No need to be rude in my camp", Moonshine replied, inching towards aggression. Thats when I first heard the most sure fighting words in Slabs. "Your camp? I though slab city was free". If you hear this phrase, perk up. You might get a free show. Slab City is free, free from police presence, but that means you're free to get your ass kicked by everyone here too. I reminded her of this, clumsily, and she became more incensed, starting to buck up even more. "I hope you're not talking about me" she backlessly cautioned. "I am talking about you". This shut her up, a miracle, so the flustered girl went to Cliffy to ask for a shot of vodka, something she had never provided but asked for often. He told her that her "energy wasn't welcome here" and she straggled back to camp. Her aquaintence picked up on the vibe more quickly than her, and corralled the girl who was henceforth known as Stink Egg out of the camp, never to be seen again. From what I heard she had been in the camp for three days, slowly becoming a problem. I had come in at the end of things. What a time to be arriving. Moonshine thanked me for saying what we were all thinking, and we continued on free from Stink Egg's foul presence. I asked if I could set up camp next to them, and they were happy to let me. I would say this for the next few days, that I was just camping next to them, until I found myself an osmosised member of The Medicine Post.

I woke up the next morning to Cliffy doing donuts in the sand, still tripping from the night before. Cliffy is a 24 hour party person. Cliffys car is a 24hr party vehicle, which I have witnessed getting air several times.i hopped in my van and did my own donuts. I have a 5 liter; yeehaw. I bury it to the axles after a couple cookies, parallel to the main road entering slab city at such an angle it's almost a joke. I figure, this is a truck kinda place, and people who like trucks like to pull stuff with trucks, because pulling stuff with trucks is a cheap way to feel very powerful at the expense of nobody, which is normally not the case. I walked the 20 feet back to camp and saw Moonshine with a brown vial, dosing herself as she hadn't tripped the night before. I asked if I could trip with, and she agreed. Moonshine dropped the doses on both our palms, and we licked the sour, familiar liquid up.
I love this post. Not only am I able to see, hear, smell( prob not always great🤣) everything along the way
I feel as though I went to slab city with you through your ✍️ writing!
👍 well done
Where are you now
I sent you a response ab a tipi
Small chance I could gift it to you depending on its condition
It got left out this winter , as I was in a house and we could not physically pry the container it was in from the ground due to ice
I’m actually to arrive in Arizona tomorrow but can get people back “ him” to inspect the canvas
If it is in good shape obviously I’d like to recoup a little of what I payed
If it’s sustained too much moisture damage
You can have it
You’d just have to get to Maine!
In order to get it or I guess wire $ for it to be shipped to you greyhound
The canvas alone weighs a ton!!
Look up a company in Montana that makes tipis- that’s the maker
We bought it on Ebay
Fireman type jacket canvas coated
As I said
You’d have to source your poles after but..
It can be done
Happy trails
My
 

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