A Word About Quartzsite – February 2019

Tuesday Feb 5: Real clouds and chilly wind this morning. I make coffee by candlelight and lanterns this morning, then head out for a walk in the desert. I find a place to sit and write in the journal, but the wind is too chilly to stay out long.

Morning in the desert
Ocotillo in bloom
A nice place to sit

Back at camp, after making smoothies for Clifford and myself, I get the journal caught up, take care of emails, send query submissions for Princes & Priests, send photos/texts to siblings and kids, hearing back that Montana is being hammered with blizzards. We have an early dinner, then go to Quartzsite for the Hardshell Harmony bluegrass concert, which was fun. Then back to camp and soon to bed.

Wednesday Feb 6: Chilly morning, only 38 degrees. I go for a walk in the desert, but don’t take time to journal there as we are headed to Parker today.

Sunrise in the desert
The sunflowers have made their appearance

The spaghetti special at the Blue Water casino at Parker, Arizona, about 30 miles north, is a big draw for Clifford. At Walmart we get groceries and I find the perfect backpack for my trip to Atlanta. I will be flying there later this month to visit Becka.

Thursday Feb 7: It is 30 degrees outdoors when I get up and not much warmer inside. When I light the stove and turn on the furnace, the propane goes out and I don’t get it switched to the other tank in time. With fussing around trying to get heat going, I miss the morning walk at sunrise, but go for a walk a little later. I end up in the wrong wash and disturb the camper up the wash from us by alarming his dog when I get too close. Oh well, no damage done.

A new color in the desert

It is after I get back that Clifford has a severe gall stone attack, which is quite alarming. Ultrasound helps and after he rests, he and my brother Rollie work on installing a Mr. Buddy heater for auxiliary heat. Once everything is in place, we discover that the hose that was purchased is the wrong type. We try Mr. Buddy out with a small propane bottle, finding it to be warm and quiet. We have a light dinner, but Clifford doesn’t eat much, as he is not feeling very well. We both go to bed early.

Friday Feb 8: It is even chillier this morning, 29 degrees outside. I don’t go for a sunrise walk, as I want to see how Clifford is doing when he gets up. Not better, not worse, so I go for a longer walk, taking photos of sunflowers and the desert rose (that is not a rose), and stopping at the topknot saguaro sitting spot for journal and coffee. My son Matt calls, so I chat with him as I walk back to camp.

“Rose” that is not a rose

Today we go to Quartzsite for a different hose for Mr. Buddy. Then on the way back to camp, we stop at the Tyson Wells market to buy t-shirts — 3/$10, finding that they are of good quality and well worth the money. Back at camp, we discover that we still wrong hose for Mr. Buddy, so we will have to go back again, but not today.

A word about Quartzsite: The town of Quartzsite, Arizona, at the crossroads of I-10 and US highway 95 has a resident population of less than 2,000 people, with infrastructure accordingly. However, during the winter months, especially January and February with the Gem Show and the RV Show, there are a million visitors, most of whom are camped in RVs in the BLM land surrounding Quartzsite. Take a grocery market for a town of 2,000 and expect it to handle the million visitors – you get an idea of how well that works. Same with the post office. There aren’t that many eateries in Quartzsite, considering the influx of visitors, but Silly Al’s Pizza, if you don’t mind the wait, is the best pizza ever with great service. Most of the town, as it is seen driving through or from above on I-10, is one giant flea market, with row upon row of white canopies housing every sort of merchandise imaginable. During the RV Show, the BIG TENT is set up, with hundreds of vendors selling their wares, while in the outdoor parking area hundreds of RVs are for sale. This year we did visit the BIG TENT during the last days of the RV Show (mentioned in a previous blog), and this week we went to one section of the flea market conglomeration known as Tyson Wells, mentioned above. Later we found out that there are booths that sell marked down canned and dry goods at a great price. One just has to get to know the place.

To me, Quartzsite and the surrounding BLM land seem like going to another country, not a 3rd world country with poverty and disease, but a way of life different than any other place I’ve been. Even though many of the motorhomes seen in the desert are valued at several hundred thousand dollars, the life-style is more down-to-earth. People sit out in lawn chairs watching the sunset, sand under their feet and a light breeze cooling the warmth of the afternoon, same as the folks in the simple 20’ camper trailer next to them. It seems to be understood that we are each and all merely sojourners in this land.

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