Wednesday January 15: First thing this morning, I go out to take photos of the mountains and the cacti surrounding our campsite here at Cactus Forest, northwest of Tucson, Arizona. Clifford and I really like Cactus Forest, but we need to head on to Quartzsite, Arizona, for Quartzfest, the ham radio week-long gathering.
We travel northwest on I-10 to the junction with I-8, then west through the Sonoran Desert National Monument. We reminisce about our camping trip here four years ago, the first trip with our 30-year-old Terry travel trailer. That was an adventure, which I won’t go into here.
At Gila Bend we stop for gas, which is fun because of the pet dinosaurs and fun stuff to buy, and then continue north on highway 85 until we rejoin I-10 west of Phoenix. We had thought we might stop for the night at Buckeye Recreation Area along highway 85, but travel conditions have been favorable today and we are making good time, so travel all the way to Quartzsite.
At Quartzsite, we turn south on highway 95 and make our way to Roadrunner, the BLM camping area south of Quartzsite where Quartzfest is held. Driving into this dispersed desert camping area, we are pleased to find that the campsite we had at Christmas two years ago is available. We were here then with my cousin and his wife, and my brother Rollie. We are very happy to be here in this spot now as we set up and prepare for Quartzfest.
Saturday February 9: Kind of an overcast and chilly day here at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, where we are camped. Pretty sunrise color, but my phone won’t turn on and I don’t have time to dig out a camera before the color fades. With laptop and hotspot, I do some research on the phone situation, but nothing seems to fit. Bummer.
No long desert walk this morning, partly because of the cell not working, but also I want to be here when Clifford gets up. He has been in a lot of pain, very worrisome to me, but he has done research on gall stones, as he thinks that is what’s going on. He is feeling some better when he gets up, but not what he should be.
We cancel running into Quartzsite to get the right Mr. Buddy heater hose, but at least he is able to start the generator in the afternoon so I can charge my laptop and get some work done. He sleeps most of the afternoon, getting up when dinner is ready, but not feeling like eating much. My brother, Rollie, joins us and after dinner, he and I play cribbage before the evening cleanup and journal writing.
It was a weird off-day with Clifford being in pain and no cell phone.
Sunday February 10: Quite chilly in the night and windy all day. Clifford was restless and up in the night with the gall stone pain, so our sleep was disrupted. However, in the morning he tells me he thinks he passed the stones in the night and although he is weak, he is feeling better. That is certainly good news.
celebrating my birthday – an outing to Palm Canyon and pizza at
Silly Al’s Pizza – are put on hold, as he is not up to either,
but at least he is feeling better, which is the best birthday
I work on email, write a blog, and do some editing. Rollie and I do music in the afternoon, and I fix a good chicken dinner, followed by a game of cribbage. I start packing for my trip to visit my daughter, Becka, in Atlanta. For photos, the camera is bulky compared to the cell phone, but it will have to do. Very awkward to not have a cell phone when traveling, however.
In looking at the weather, we will have to move a day earlier than planned to avoid high winds. Rollie is leaving tomorrow and heading to Texas to visit our cousins, so guess it works out for all of us.
Monday February 11: Today is our last day here at La Posa South.
We say good-bye to Rollie once he is packed up and ready to head out.
We run errands in Quartzsite and then pack up as much as we can outside and in. We have enjoyed our time here in the desert, but now it’s time to move on to new venues.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
next several days at our camping area at LaPosa South, south of
Quartzsite are marked by lows in the 30’s and highs in the 60’s –
not bad for January, but generally too windy to spend much time
and evening walks in the desert happen almost daily for me, as I find
myself very drawn to the stillness. I like the openness without
barrenness, always finding interesting trees or rocks or flowers to
take photos of, but it is the ambiance that I wish most to share.
The morning “quiet time” routine of inspirational reading and
writing that I had established in Monticello is harder to maintain
here, so my quiet time is now walks in the desert.
After repairing his drone, Clifford takes it for a flight… and it gets away from him, becoming a smaller and smaller dot until it disappears.
Well, this is a bit discouraging, but Clifford knows by line-of-sight which direction it has gone. Clifford, Rollie, and I go look for it, with a starting point a couple of miles past LaPosa South. Rollie and I go one direction along the trajectory line, inquiring of campers if they have seen a drone, but no one has. We are hoping it didn’t crash into someone’s RV. Clifford goes the other direction along the trajectory, back toward our campsite. As he’s walking in the desert, using his binoculars to scout around, he comes across a couple of RVs a ways out from LaPosa South and he approaches a man who seems a bit unfriendly. Turns out Clifford is near the area of a nudist colony and the guy thinks Clifford has come to spy on the nudists. After a bit of conversation, the man is finally convinced that Clifford is indeed looking for a fly-away drone. The man’s cousin and husband who are camped nearby might have noticed a drone, and the fellow will inquire of them when they return from town. Clifford describes where we are camped without much hope that anything will come of. Keep in mind there are thousands of RVs camped in the desert south of Quartzsite.
The next day after plotting a distance as well as a trajectory, we plan to go search again, but before we leave, a pickup comes up our driveway (we are quite a ways out from the main part of LaPosa South). Turns out the couple in the pickup are the cousin and husband of the man Clifford talked to yesterday, and the drone had landed in their driveway. They had taken it inside, but the fellow Clifford talked to didn’t know that. He happened to mention talking to Clifford, and sure enough, they have the drone and set out to find us. So the drone is returned, none the worse off for its adventure.
Another not quite so fun adventure is our trip to Lake Havasu City, about 90 miles to the north. We are going there to buy a Mr. Buddy heater, with plans to stop for photos on the way back to Quartzsite and lunch at the casino near Parker.
The Lake Havasu City Walmart is on the north end of town, but before we get there, as Clifford steps on the gas to merge into the correct lane of traffic, the Suburban starts steaming, big time, with the heat gauge rapidly going up. We barely make it to the Walmart parking lot, coasting in and stopping at the outside edge.
Rollie and Clifford assess the problem and it appears that broken motor mounts allowed the engine to jump enough to break a housing that holds hoses to the radiator and heater. We check out the Walmart auto supply, but they don’t have the right part. A nearby Toyoto dealer orders the part for us and we have lunch at Subway while we wait for the part to be delivered. When the part arrives, it is the wrong size and won’t work. We are back to square one, but now it is mid-afternoon. After much searching and some ingenuity, we come up with a series of garden hose parts and clamps to jury-rig (thanks to Rollie) the hoses so as to be able to drive without overheating the engine. This has taken hours, many trips back and forth to Walmart auto and garden centers, and me taking Ninja for long walks. It is after dark and the guys are working by flashlights before it is all back together and we head to camp. No photos and no stopping at the casino for a meal.
Other than the drone adventure and Suburban misadventure, which both ended well, we continue our projects. I do more editing, look into starting a website for Ang, and write a couple of blogs. Rollie and I play music almost every day and cribbage after dinner.
Clifford is busy with CI research, ham radio, playing his dulcimer, and flying the drone when it is not too windy. And we all went to the New Christy Minstrel concert in Quartzsite one evening, which was good entertainment.