Many people wonder why my husband and I enjoy snowbirding at the Slabs, a boondocking area in the Southern California desert that evokes strong reactions of “love” and “hate” by RVers who’ve been there. And who can blame them for reacting the way they do, especially when you read another misrepresentation about the Slabs, or pull in and see sights like this:
Located on an abandoned military base, the concrete slabs like this are all that remains of the barracks. Today, the land is home to all types of snowbirds, drifters and vagabonds in tents, RVs and million-dollar rigs. Since the late 1970s, it’s been a haven for those who enjoy getting away from civilization, but still want a sense of community with like-minded people, many who also seek the simpler things in life.
Once your mind gets past the post-apocalyptic landscape, you’ll find that it doesn’t matter what kind of rig you do or don’t have, there’s an overall sense of equality among “Slabbers” that’s lacking in “Babylon,” which is what Slabbers refer to as the world beyond this gate guard station at the entrance.
Jim and I feel secure behind that guard station. We’ve never felt threatened or had any problems with crime.
Long-time Slabbers who’ve been visiting for decades all say the same thing:
The Slabs are safer than most people think.
Recently I was listening to an old Gershwin song from the play “Porgy and Bess,” and it perfectly sums up how we feel when we’re at the Slabs. It’s also a precise look at why the whole concept of living more with less can be so fulfilling:
“Plenty of Nothing”
by George Gershwin
I got plenty of nothing
And nothing is plenty for me.
I got no car,
Got no mule,
Got no misery
Folks with plenty of plenty
They got a lock on the door
Afraid somebody?s gonna rob them while
they’re out making more
I got no lock on the door
that’s no way to be
They can steal the rug
From the floor
that’s OK with me
Cause the things that I prize
Like the stars in the sky
Are all free
Say I’ve got plenty of nothing
And nothing is plenty for me.
I got my girl
Got my song,
Got heaven the whole daylong.
Some might think that it’s easy for someone like me to idealize simplicity. After all, I am a blessed human being and have a lot of things that many people don’t, like an income, a great husband, a nice RV and things to put inside it. And while I’m beyond grateful for these gifts, I also know that they can be gone in an instant. We’ve all heard stories about people who lost everything and wondered: “What if that was ME?”
If everything I ever knew and loved in this world disappeared, I need to know that I can go on. Living with less in a RV helps to give me that confidence, which is priceless. It wouldn’t be easy, but by making a conscious effort today to live within my means and do more with less, I have the tools to overcome great loss if I found myself in those circumstances.
Each year when we vacate our Slab City campsite, I feel a little nervous about re-entering Babylon. From that day forward until our return the following season, we’ll be bombarded with symbols of the default lifestyle like shopping, traffic and the frantic pace of urban living. I’ll compare my rig with others, I’ll want what I don’t have. That’s human nature.
I just have to do my best to remember what’s really important in this world: Full-time RVers really do have plenty of nothing.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.