The Real People of Slab City

Nancy and Bob Unden started coming to Slab City 28 years ago. Photo Credit: Rene Agredano
We all know that looks can be deceiving, but when you’re a full-time RVer that realization can happen with amazing frequency, and it can even enhance your life. I was reminded of that last winter when I finally met my camping neighbors of the last seven years, Bob Unden, 88, and his wife, Nancy, 85, two longtime winter snowbirds of Slab City, California.
If you were to meet Bob and Nancy in their hometown near San Diego, you’d never dream that they preferred to spend winters at the Slabs. They are respectable looking people and not the stereotypical “Slabbers” portrayed by mainstream media. Over the last several years, reporters have done a great job painting an ominous picture of the Unden’s winter home, located on an abandoned military base on the eastern side of California’s Salton Sea. Everyone from the New York Times to NBC News has portrayed this state-owned, free boondocking land as a lawless haven filled with shiftless drifters, criminals and transients squatting in a post-Apocalyptic refuge from society. But stick around awhile and you’ll learn that the media has it wrong. The Undens and many other Slab City residents like them don’t fit that description at all.
I’ll admit there’s a little truth to what the media says. Some Slabs encampments are places you want to stay away from, but the majority of campers are law-abiding people like Bob, Nancy, my husband and myself. With plentiful free camping, weekly air shows by Navy fighter planes at the adjacent bombing range, and a Saturday talent show by traveling musicians, there’s enough fun to keep snowbirds like us coming back.
When you arrive you’ll see that the Slabs have good areas with nice folks, and shady neighborhoods

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