What's Happening To The Last Free Place In America?

What's Happening To The Last Free Place In America?

A snippet of the what the last free place in America is all about.

640 acres of desert,140 miles East of San Diego lies the "last free place" in America. Slab City, CA.

What used to be an old, abandoned marine training base called Camp Dunlap, is now a squatter community. After the military left, the concrete slabs stayed, thus creating Slab City. Starting out as a campground to come to during the winter months where the population swells to about 4,000 people, a small portion of people stay year-round.

However, many are deterred from staying because of the extreme conditions. In the summer, temperatures can reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite most people leaving after the winter is over, the year-round population of roughly 200 people are free to do as they wish. Being separate from the government allows them to live without paying rent or having zoning laws. Even though this freedom may come free in terms of money, it is not free all around. There is no electricity, no water, and no sewer system. There could also be munitions and military waste buried in the soil. At which point the Federal government is looking into this.

In Slab City, there are no stop signs, the homes are made of a variety of makeshift shelters ranging from old school buses to tents made from pallets and blankets to make them sturdier. Not everything is this run down, there are more upscale "houses" which are nicer RV's, some even have solar panels. The community has made a church and a library as well.

Slab City not only serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world but also as a place to create art. In one section of Slab City called East Jesus, there are many creations of art that people have made over the years. The art is generally made out of trash, items that would have been sitting in a landfill are either repurposed or used to make pieces of art. For instance, one sculpture is of a mammoth made completely out of tires.

This piece of land is owned by the state of California and they have recently put it up for sale. Alarming the residents of Slab City, they have decided to make an effort to buy it. The community is worried that Slab City could be turned into a geothermal energy or solar energy plant, destroying the last free place in America.

At the moment, Slab City's future is uncertain due to the fact that many of the residents live off government aid and Social Security. They need to raise approximately $500,000 in order to have enough money to buy the land for themselves. Right now, they have not come up with the $5,000 needed for the application deposit.

If you feel like this is the place for you, here are directions for getting you there. I bid you farewell and safe travels. Simply drive towards Niland on Highway 111, turn east on the street by United Grocery. Then travel for 3.5 miles to the city. The Salvation Mountain marks the entrance.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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Why You Should Visit New Orleans

There's more to the city than just Mardi Gras

For my last Spring Break, I decided to do something a little special and venture outside of New Jersey for the week. My friend and I packed our bags, but instead of heading to Florida like many college students, we headed to the Big Easy. While NOLA may not have a beach of its own, there's plenty of other reasons why this trip was so memorable and amazing.

1. The food was amazing!

From gumbo and jambalaya to Caribbean taquerias, New Orleans has so much to offer in the way of flavor and food. And much to my surprise, they had plenty of options for vegetarian, vegan, an gluten free diets.

2. The architecture was beautiful.

The unique architecture of the city will pull your eye in and make it really hard to look away. Picturesque and gorgeous homes litter the streets of the city, especially in the Garden District.

3. Cemeteries

Since the city is mostly below the water table, and due to the influence of the Spanish, many cemeteries in New Orleans feature the unique concept of above ground burials. You can visit the tomb of Marie Laveau and the tomb purchased by actor Nicholas Cage (who is notoriously obsessed with New Orleans).

4. Voodoo and Hauntings

Speaking of Marie Laveau, New Orleans is special because you can explore the world of voodoo in an area where Caribbean and Catholic influences alike contributed to this unique culture. Visiting one of the most haunted cities in America opens up doors for lovers of all that is creepy-- you can go on ghost tours and visit the sites of some of the most gruesome murders and notoriously haunted establishments.

5. Drinking on Bourbon Street

Walking up and down Bourbon Street is an experience in and of itself. The only rule about carrying alcohol on the streets of New Orleans is no glass bottles. Other than that, its open range for walking the streets with the crazy cocktails Bourbon Street has to offer.

6. Jazz on Frenchmen Street

Jazz is one of the first things I think of when I think of New Orleans. Its hard to walk around the city without hearing the soulful sound of a saxophone or trombone. On Frenchmen Street, you'll find more of a local vibe where bars have open doors and jazz bands playing almost 24/7.

7. Shopping at the French Market

Although a bit overwhelming, you'll find almost anything you could need from trinkets to food to cocktails from the various vendors in the French Market.

8. Steamboat tours on the Mississippi

One of the best ways to tour the city is on the Mighty Mississippi. Grab a cocktail, some authentic Creole food, and watch the sights pass you by.

9. A Huge Casino (with a nightclub).

Enough said. Central to many areas of the city is a Harrah's Casino with their own nightclub, Masquerade. If you aren't afraid of your wallet being mad at you, go spend an evening at the casino.

10. Festivals and Parades.

I was lucky enough to catch the Top Taco Festival during my visit, and it was one of the best nights of the trip. A ticket got me endless tacos, tequila, and cocktail tasters, and the vendors were very accommodating to the fact that I was vegetarian.

11. Beignets and Cafe Au Lait

If you didn't get Beignets and Cafe Au Lait at Cafe Du Monde, did you even go to New Orleans? And don't you dare say it is the same as donuts and coffee, because it just isn't. If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further.

12. The Restaurants and Shops on Magazine Street

A little different and more laid back than the French Market, this is a must visit area of New Orleans. The Rum House has some of the best cocktails and tacos you'll ever eat, and its worth the wait for a table.

13. Explore a city with a very rich history.

I was blown away by the amount there was to see and learn during the day in New Orleans. From French rule to Spanish rule, to the Louisiana purchase that made New Orleans part of America, the city has seen the influence of many different cultures as well as the impact of natural disasters such as fires, floods, and Hurricane Katrina.

14. National Parks, Museums, and Art Galleries

If art, nature, or history is your thing, you will love the Big Easy. With plenty of art all around the city, Museums on Mardi Gras and World War II (just to name a few), and plenty of gorgeous parks to stroll through.

15. You'll remember it forever!

Because of all of the things listed above, New Orleans will be a place that I will never forget, and only hope I get to visit again.

Cover Image Credit: Rachel Kleinwaks

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The 5 Stages Of Leaving Spring Break

2. Anger

The week you've been looking forward too all year has come and gone all too soon. Here are the stages that you'll go through while leaving your vacation

1. Denial

This week will never end and I will never have to see snow or go to class again.

2. Anger

It's not fair that I have to go home!

3. Bargaining

Just one more day and I'll leave in peace

4. Depression

I don't want to go home. I'll never be happy again.

5. Acceptance

There's always next year!

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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