I spent my first day in Slab City with a man named Dave. Dave and a friend where riding out of town on mountain bikes to pick up supplies in Niland. In a classic show of Californian sentiment(Actually he was from Minnesota, but the atitude is infectious), he advised me that Slab City isn't necessarily safe for a woman alone, and invited me to his camp. He seemed like a nice sort, though, and I don't know what the etiquette is on claiming a spot. Can't hurt to stay with a local and learn a bit. Dave's camp turned out to be one of the first within whatever constituted 'inside' slab city, with two fifth wheels and a mostly intact mobile home. "The druggies live down that way. We're all good people here", he told me, gesturing down the street. Then he continued on to Niland, leaving me to settle in.
I paced around a bit, feeling somewhat ill at ease - not threatened, though - then chilled outand heated up some soup. I found a van seat to perch on, wrapped up in my long suffering fleece blanket, and watched folks coming and going until Dave came back. He introduced me to a couple living nearby, and we peeled potatoes for a meal. He asked me to put the peelings under one of his trees, to feed it. "Anything I can, I feed to the tree. It helps out", he explained. While we peeled potatoes and cleaned onions, he told me he was going to DC to build a space ship. Not really a space ship - just a prop for now. He wants funding to build a better safety system for space shuttles and moon landings. His plan is to get a friend to fly him up in a helicopter and he'll test his 'spaceship' by throwing it off the copter with himself inside. Then he'll get the president to look at it. I'm just saying what he said. The man seemed fairly knowledgeable about engineering - maybe it just seems nuts because I don't understand the technicalities?
By the time we finished the big sack of potatoes, it was dark, cold, and I was more tired than hungry. He gave me the key to the big mobile home, and I dragged a mattress into the kitchen to sleep on(The bedroom carpet was pretty awful, and the floor appeared to be giving out in the living room). I'd rather be outside, but Dave's camp is a little too uneven and rocky to sleep comfortably on the ground. Tomorrow I'll go find my own spot.