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.

Carnicom Brothers – February 2019

Most mornings I walk in the desert at sunrise, as I love the quiet ambiance and the glow of first light.

More flowers are blooming, which is quite delightful.

The short saguaro family

It is during these early days of February that the Carnicom Brothers Reunion is held in Parker, Arizona, about 30 miles north of Quartzsite. We first all meet in Quartzsite at Silly Al’s pizza, as brothers Jim and Frank arrive from California, and brother Gene with his wife Clare arrive from Texas. Clifford and I are close at hand, being camped at LaPosa South, just a few miles south of Quartzsite. We are seated at a big hexagonal table and have the best pizza ever, as well as really good service.

Carnicom brothers gather: Clifford, Frank, Jim, Gene and his wife Clare

The next day, we all gather at the motel in Parker where Gene and Clare are staying, and set up in a small lobby area to watch the Superbowl, with big screen, snacks and all. I am not too interested in the Superbowl, but I am really liking the power and free wifi – downloading photos from the “cloud” and preparing blogs. It is fun to see all the brothers, and I especially enjoy having time to visit with Clare during the couple of days of the gathering.

Frank, Jim, Clifford

Another big deal is that my daughter, Becka, has purchased a ticket for me to fly to Atlanta later this month to visit her there for the first time. That is very exciting and plans are made for a fun visit.

Besides the desert walks and the gathering of the brothers, the other usual activities continue: ham radio, dulcimer, and CI projects for Clifford; editing, blog writing, meals and domestic chores for me. Rollie and I do music most days, outside when we can, and he joins Clifford and me for dinner and a game of cribbage every evening.

I catch the sunset when I can.

Sunset in the desert

Last Days of January at La Posa South – January 2019

Although I think calling one day January and the next day February is artificial, merely a construct for the convenience of convention, like calling one mile Utah and the next mile Arizona when really the flow is continuous …. this blog is called Last Days of January. Usually blogs are based on the number of photos I want to share, not a certain set of days, but today I will honor “January,” and this blog will wrap up January 2019.

Waiting for sunrise

Almost every morning, I walk in the desert at sunrise and the day I got up too late, Clifford and I went over to Rollie’s place for a morning campfire.

Walking in the desert at sunrise
The sun peeks through
Morning in the desert

Every day I write in my journal, sometimes taking it with me on the morning walks, sometimes writing when I get back, sometimes finding a spare moment during the day. My favorite is taking it with me on the morning walks and finding a place to sit and write in the desert. And I visit “rose” on my way back to camp.

Journal writing in the desert
Good morning “Rose”

Almost every day I work on projects that involve the laptop: editing books, blog writing/posting, editing photos, agent research, and this week I completed and emailed nearly a dozen agent queries for Ang’s novel Princes and Priests. It’s all good and fine as long as the sun shines and the cell signal is strong enough for the hotspot to work.

Some days I walk in the desert at mid-day, most especially to visit the “rose ” that is not a rose, as I am able to see the tiny blossoms open at mid-day. I think it is actually some desert variety of globe mallow. And I find other little flowers along the way.

Almost every day Rollie and I play music with Clifford as our audience, although this week our sessions were short because Rollie has injured his shoulder. Every day Clifford works with his ham radios, plays his dulcimer, and works on CI projects.

The two things that are different this week: we go to the RV Show, which is a BIG deal in Quartzsite, drawing thousands of people, but it is winding down now and isn’t too crowded. We have time to walk the aisles of the Big Tent. Rollie gets a couple of things for himself, I buy a pair of silver-looking earrings, Clifford purchases a flag pole to use as part of his antenna set up. There are hundreds of vendors with a lot of interesting and useful stuff here and it is fun to look.

The other not-so-fun thing this week is that, after telling Clifford and Rollie how much I love taking photos with my cell phone, I am having problems accessing the photos and editing them. Big bummer. Online research does not come up with answers, but then the phone starts working again. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it was just a fluke and continue taking photos.

Every evening I make dinner for the three of us, Rollie and I play cribbage, and then I do dishes.

Sunset in the desert

Almost every evening I go to bed later than I really think I should, but there is so much I want to do, I squeeze in whatever I can.

Quartzfest Week – January 2019

Sunday January 20: As most days here at La Posa South, my day starts with a walk in the desert, and my thoughts today are of Mary Oliver and her connection to nature so elegantly expressed in her poetry.

Sunrise in the desert

Today I work on a website for my daughter Ang and get some basics in place, but it is slow going, as the net is not great here. The usual evening routine of dinner, cribbage, and dishes finishes the day.

Monday January 21: It is really windy this morning, but I go for a desert walk anyway, visiting Grandmother Saguaro and the rose-bud looking blossom in the arroyo.

The “rose” that is not a rose
Grandmother Saguaro

Clifford and I go for an outing to Quartzfest at nearby Roadrunner BLM camping area, as today is the first day of classes and events for the week-long ham radio festival. Other years we have camped onsite, but this year we are staying at La Posa South, as it is easier to not pack up and move. Then we go to Quartzsite, visiting a funky bookstore, Family Dollar, and the market.

A funky bookstore

Tonight Clifford has a call with his brothers after dinner, while Rollie and I play a game of cribbage.

Tuesday January 22: Desert walk at sunrise, still windy, but better looking sky than yesterday.

Today Rollie works on the Suburban, replacing garden hose parts with the real deal parts purchased from a Chevy dealer. We have an early dinner then head to town for MacDougal West concert – the Peter, Paul, and Mary Trio clone. They are quite good and we enjoy the concert. Bed late.

Wednesday January 23: I go for a longer walk in the desert this morning – my quiet time.

In the afternoon we go to the Outdoor Survival class at Quartzfest. Back at camp, I post a tribute to Mary Oliver with one of her poems and one of my photos.

Thursday January 24: Today is the Quartzfest Trail Ride, which Rollie and I are participating in. Nearly 60 vehicles are in the lineup this year.

Trail Ride

We follow the leader, Frank, down Pipeline Road to Tyson Wash and down the wash to Tyson Well. Using our 2-meter radios, Frank points out the petroglyphs and gives us a history of Tyson Well, an important stop for desert travelers. We are here long enough to climb to the hilltop above the well.

Tyson Well

Cone’ cabin and studio and Coombs cabin are other historical sites where we stop as the journey takes us on back roads through the desert.

Rollie uses binoculars to look over the desert
Back country

Following Tyson Wash, the caravan heads to the Hi Jolly Monument on the edge of Quartzsite. Plaques detail the history of the camel experiment.

Back at camp, I am experiencing problems with the net, making it hard to send my entries to the Quartzfest photo contest and I am limited to photos taken today and the “rose,” which had been previously downloaded to the laptop. Very frustrating. In the evening we drive back over to Quartzfest to attend the Hootenanny for awhile. It was a very full day and midnight by time I head to bed.

Friday January 25: Words and not even photos come close to the experience of being in the desert at sunrise. The ambiance is more than the fresh air and the smell and sounds of birds. I find a perfect seat in the wash to sit and write in the journal, and visit Grandmother Saguaro, “rose,” and desert marigold before heading back to camp.

Smoothie, new kombucha tea, texts with photos, and preparing a blog from early September fill the morning until time to head to Quartzfest for the Antenna Walkabout. Looking at the bulletin board, I see four of my photos have made it to the finals.

New kombucha

Saturday January 26: For the desert walk this morning, I go to my sitting spot by Top-knot Saguaro, with coffee and journal.

A place to sit and write in the journal

Winter field day starts for Clifford, but is interrupted when we go to the Quartzfest closing. Lots of prizes are given out, and the photo contest is one of the highlights. I am delighted to take 1st in General, 1st in Pets, and 1st in Nature, as well as the Grand Prize. Needless to say, I am quite pleased to have done so well.

Subtle evening colors

Back at camp, Clifford continues with Winter Field Day, making radio contacts through the evening, while Rollie and I play cribbage after dinner. And as always, whether I win or lose, I am the one who does the dishes. And so ends Quartzfest week – 2019.

Desert Walks at La Posa South – January 2019

Sunrise in the desert

I begin each day with walking in the desert here at La Posa South, the long-term BLM camping area south of Quartzsite, Arizona. Clifford and I, and my brother Rollie, are camped a couple miles in from US highway 95, and there are not nearly so many RV’s out here as compared to the area closer to the highway.

Sunrise in the desert

We are camped along a wide wash, and it is an easy matter to cross the wash and walk out into the uninhabited desert or just follow the wash. Most days I head toward the closest mountain, which I call Shale Mountain, since when Clifford and I hiked there, we found that it was just that – a mountain made of shale. The stillness of the desert appeals to me and I find it easy to be there, sometimes finding a place to sit on the trunk of a fallen dead tree.

Palo Verde golden in the first rays of the sun

Some days I make a thermos of coffee to take with me, as well as my journal, and always my cell phone for taking photos. The sky has been mucked up with jet trails almost every day, which is a very grievous environmental issue, but one I won’t go into detail here, other than to say it makes taking photos much more of a challenge.

Ocotillo in bloom on a blue-sky day is a treat to see

I am not afraid of getting lost, as I have landmarks on the surrounding mountain ranges, as well as the immediate landmarks of certain saguaros, such as the one I call Grandmother, as it is one of the larger and more stately saguaros in this area.

Portraits of Grandmother Saguaro

It is always a delight to me to find wildflowers blooming, most often a clump of desert marigold, but one particular bush has small red buds that look like rose buds, though the plant is definitely not a rose.

Desert marigold

As I wander in the desert, I feel connected to the earth and the poems of Mary Oliver, and I am saddened to learn that this great soul has passed on.

At the laundromat, we meet a fellow musician, Daniel, who comes out and camps next to us for a day so we can all play music together. It is always fun to add another musician to the bluegrass get-togethers that Rollie and I have almost every day.

Daniel’s camper door

Rollie is going to the bluegrass festival at Blythe, California, this weekend, as is Daniel. I watch Ninja, who is quite a good companion on desert walks, which are more like desert runs. He is patient when I stop to take photos, and then on we run.

Desert runs with Ninja

One day Rollie makes a door into the storage compartment under the bench in our RV, allowing access to the portion that was previously out of reach. It is great to have a place for canned good; storage area in RV’s is always a precious commodity. In the evenings after dinner, we play cribbage, which is fun for us.

On Clifford’s birthday, he and I go to Parker, partly business and partly for fun, having lunch at the Blue Water Casino. It might not have been the most exciting birthday ever, but we are happy to be well and to spend the day together.

Sunset at La Posa South

Rain in the Desert – January 2019

Cougar and Rollie’s rig in the rain

Tuesday January 15: It is raining this morning where Clifford and I are camped at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. This is a big deal in the desert. I go walking, taking photos of the water in the washes and arroyos. Where it has been dry sand, rocks, and gravel on previous days, there are now rivers and streams. It is lovely and peaceful walking by myself in the rain.

Other than the rain, today is a day with many of the usual activities: editing, blog writing, and music with Rollie. There is now a domain and website platform in place for Ang. It will be up to me to populate the website with information and photos. Sounds like an interesting project except for the fact that I don’t know how to do it! Might be a steep learning curve….

Clifford at work

No drone-flying for Clifford today, but research continues.

Evening in the desert

After dinner, Rollie and I play cribbage before I tackle the dishes, and then I write in the journal before heading to bed.

Arizona, We Have Arrived – January 2019

Tuesday January 1 – New Year’s Day!

Western Arizona Landscape

It is about 23 degrees this morning at the Love’s truck stop at the junction of I-40 and highway 95 south of Kingman in western Arizona. In spite of the chill morning, Clifford and I are happy to be out of the snow that is hitting northern Arizona. We have a quick breakfast before heading out on the next leg of the journey.

Western Arizona Landscape
Colorado River makes its appearance

We stop for supplies in Lake Havasu City, which is situated alongside the Colorado River, then continue southward. The dammed up river is a blue contrast to the harsh, but usually interesting, desert landscape.

Colorado River adds a splash of color to the landscape
Continuing south, a painterly version of the mountains ahead

Between Parker and Quartzsite, there is quite a lot of BLM land, some of it accessible for boondocking, but the land here doesn’t really appeal to me that much.

South of Quartzsite, we reach our destination at La Posa South long-term camping area by mid-afternoon. We head out to where we were camped last year, as my brother Rollie is already there and has fixed up a nice camping area. We find a spot near him and start getting set up, the bitter cold wind making it not so fun to be outdoors, but we are grateful to see a blue sky.

Brother Rollie in the Class A; Carol and Clifford in the Cougar

Even though I’m not totally in love with the spot we have chosen, I do like the area. We are not far from the wash, which is quite wide with lots of trees and shrubs, and beyond that is wild natural desert with more washes and many kinds of cacti and other desert vegetation. I am looking forward to desert outings.

Sonoran type desert surrounds us

I make dinner for all of us and after dinner Rollie beats me at a game of cribbage. Dishes and writing in the journal wrap up the day for me. We are happy to be here, a great way to start our new year.

Wednesday January 2: I begin my day with the morning routine that I enjoy – making a good cup of French press coffee, reading a poem by Mary Oliver, writing in my journals. I have a Gratitude Journal that is expressly for writing five things that I am grateful for every day and the diary-type journal that keeps me from forgetting what I’ve done with my day-to-day life.

Then I run out to take photos at sunrise. I’m discovering that the cell phone doesn’t take great sunrise photos, as it can’t handle the light of the rising sun, but other than that, I’m enjoying using it for photos that are going to be used via the internet or cell phone.

Today is our settling in day; I organize stuff inside and out, while Clifford gets his ham radios set up. In the afternoon Rollie and I play bluegrass music, with Rollie on mandolin and guitar, and me playing fiddle music on the viola, reading cello music.

Rollie on the mandolin with Ninja for support

We have dinner together, then Rollie and I play a game of cribbage. After dishes, I want to work on a blog, but I’m just too tired and head to bed instead.

Hiking to Rim Overlook: Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Sunday October 28: Clifford and I are camped at the Dead Horse Point Utah State Park, thanks to our Colorado friends who are in the site next to us. First thing this morning I call my daughter Katie to wish her Happy Birthday and then head out to Rim Overlook on the west rim trail. I hike by myself, enjoying the solitude and beauty of my surroundings this morning.

The trail to the Rim Overlook

Back at camp, I continue editing Emperors and Exiles, eat left-over pizza for lunch– not my usual, but sure tasty. In the later afternoon, we – Clifford, our friends, and I – hike to the same Rim Overlook where I was this morning. It does feel different hiking with others, with companionship replacing solitude.

Hiking with friends

Later, Clifford and I join our friends for dinner at their camp. Afterward, Dave and Clifford go out to use the night vision goggles, which is a lot of fun for them. We ladies are ready to turn in; I write in my planner and then head to bed, feeling a bit weary from the day’s activities, and knowing that tomorrow is another travel day. Only 3 1/2 months on the road this time, but it seems like a long time ago that we left for Montana and here we are, nearly back to our home-base in Monticello, Utah.

Hiking in Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Saturday October 27: Today Clifford and I hike with our Colorado friends who are camped next to us at Dead Horse Point Utah State Park. We start from the Visitor Center and walk the canyon east rim trail out to the point that gives the park its name. The story is that wild mustangs were corralled here at the point, the best picked out to be kept as riding stock, and the rest turned loose, except for the time that they were left corralled and died of thirst. Not a pretty story, but the name remains.

It is a scenic hike with deep canyons on all sides and the Colorado River far below. Back at camp, we all rest up a bit and then head to Moab to have dinner together at Eddie McStiff’s. This is a fun outing for us and after we return to the park, we have tea and visit until midnight.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah – October 2018

Thursday October 25: I take photos as soon as I get up, watching the play of sunlight on the desert scene. This is our last morning here on Mineral Point Road outside Canyonlands National Park. After breakfast, we begin packing up for our move to nearby Dead Horse Point State Park, where we are meeting Colorado Friends.

Desert view from Mineral Point Road
Beneficial soil microbe colonies

The spot reserved for us at the state park is small, and although not quite as challenging as our set-up on Mineral Point Road, it is tricky because of a culvert that does not allow for an adequate turning radius to back into the small site. But eventually we are set up and have 110 electricity for the first time since leaving Monticello in July. That certainly is a convenience! And we did save some time and trouble not having to set up the solar panel.

Our site at Dead Horse Point State Park

Now the odd thing about being here is that, while the electricity and the nearby flush toilets are quite the treat, we have gone from being surround by acres and acres of sage brush with seldom another camper or person in sight to being in a fishbowl surrounded by campers and people in every direction. I guess that is fine; it just sort of feels weird to me.

Our friends arrive and set up in the site next to us, which makes it easy to visit. We haven’t seen them for awhile and enjoy their company, so end up going to bed quite late.

Friday October 26: Frost on the grass this morning. Looks like fall is upon us.

This morning, I walk to the new campground, which is not far way, to check it out for future reference. It is flat and much more suited to RV’s, but not nearly as pretty.

Walking to the new campground

Back at camp, Clifford is up, but still in his pj’s. I sit outside in the sunshine to write in the journal with my little thermos of French press coffee.

Clifford in his pj’s

A half-mile trail takes me from the campground to the Visitor Center where I look at the displays and follow the nearby Nature Trail. There is no cell service at the campground, but I can send texts to kids and siblings from the Visitor Center.

A view of the La Sal Mountains from the trail to the Visitor Center
Walking on the Nature Trail at the Visitor Center
Nature Trail as seen from the Visitor Center

Back at camp, after lunch, I do more editing of Emperors and Exiles, my daughter Ang’s epic fantasy. Clifford works on his projects, also. When our friends return from their Moab outing, we all walk down to the Visitor Center again before dinner and more visiting.

Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center
Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center

Later, by time I finish my bedtime routine, it is nearly midnight – way past my bedtime.