Sad news out of California this week. We have lost another legend. No, I don’t mean actress Shirley Temple Black, though she was a legend in her own right. I’m referring to Leonard Knight, who passed away Monday at a nursing home near San Diego at age 82.
Like most new fulltimers, in the early days of our RV adventure Terry and I were busy running around the country crossing things off our bucket list as fast as we could. Eventually we got tired of that and realized that no matter how fast we drove or how many miles we put on our motorhome, we’d still never live long enough to see it all because there’s just so darned much to see, and slowed down.
One of the places we visited during that marathon sightseeing session was Slab City, near Niland, California. For those of you who don’t know about Slab City, it’s an area once occupied by a World War II military base that was later razed, leaving just the concrete slabs the buildings stood on. Squatters live there year round in old school buses, junk cars and shanties, and a lot of RVers spend their winters dry camping there. It’s not uncommon to see high dollar Prevost bus conversions parked near homemade campers, and your neighbors might be retired professionals, burned out hippies, or down on their luck families just trying to hang on.
For 30 years or so, Salvation Mountain has been an installation at Slab City. Actually a two or three story tall collection of old hay bales, spare tires, and cast off lumber covered in homemade adobe with about a hundred layers of paint poured over it, then adorned with religious messages, Salvation Mountain is the creation of Leonard Knight.
Known simply as Leonard to his legions of friends and fans, Leonard never met a stranger and created his “mountain” as a testament to his faith. Using donated and scrounged materials, he lived simply, loved God, and loved to chat with anyone who came by. We met Leonard and interviewed him for the Gypsy Journal during that frantic first year on the road and he was a nice man, a gentle man, and a very unique individual.
Leonard Knight may be gone, but his legacy lives on. A board of trustees has been entrusted with the future of Salvation Mountain. Currently, two couples are living at the site and serving as caretakers, and monthly work parties of volunteers are maintaining what many have described as America’s largest piece of folk art. Rest in peace, gentle soul.
What day is it? Come on, what day is it??? That’s right, it’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins book So, You Want to be a Workamper? All you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
If you like reading science fiction and fantasy books, my friend Chris Ward’s The Tube Riders, the first book in his Tube Riders trilogy, is now free on Amazon. Do yourself a favor and download a copy, you’ll enjoy it.
Thought For The Day – I’ve learned so much from my mistakes that I’m thinking of making a few more.