Groups mark their territories and gather in the desert
Whiling away the morning making music in the desert.
"Rowdy" of Cutler's Bull & Donkey Show
characters of all kinds....
....no dress code required.
People come from all over, any way they can.
I heard a noise and looked out the window to see this
plane land a few feet from our trailer!
The desert pilots fly all manner of craft, but they have
nothing on the natural airborne essence of the
Classic Sonoran Desert scenery at the White Tanks
mountains west of Phoenix.
The small cholla cactus applaud the silent, serene
performance of the Saguaros.
And here it is, about 200 yards from the rock sign that the
December, 2008 and January 2009 - After Yuma, we stopped in Quartzsite en route to Phoenix for the holidays. This became the
first of a delightful string of reunions with friends and family that filled our winter months, and we returned again in January. As we
first settled into the strange desert living that characterizes boondocking in the Quartzsite BLM land, winter arrived with a
vengeance. The land is ideal for RVs - flat, level, and hard-packed, as if it were paved. But it is very exposed, with only some low
desert scrub brush and the rare saguaro cactus and hummingbird as company. When the wind decides to blow the trailer rocks!
We camped next to our friends Bob & Donna Lea whose 20 years of
experience with winter camping in Arizona's deserts was invaluable as we
tackled the project of installing a new heater. Their warm company made
the chilly, grey days pass very quickly, and we had a chance to compare
our solar setups (see notes at bottom of that page).
Each January, when it plays host to a series of gem shows and the
annual RV show, Quartzsite swells from a truck stop with a few homes
stores to a 120
from the north
country. RVers gather in groups of all kinds, marking their territory with
signs. "Loners on Wheels," "The Gadabouts," "Escapees Boondockers,"
and manufacturers' rallies fill the desert for miles in every direction. A
paper plate with a couple's names on it and an arrow is enough to signal
friends to a gathering location. There is no reservation system and no
management of these crazed senior citizens, so if you arrive and your
favorite spot is taken, you find another spot.
This year the Montana Owners' rally was the most impressive, even
though they took our friends' preferred spot by their favorite saguaro. The
group drew an enormous circle in the desert floor, and as each rig arrived
it was carefully parked in a spoke pattern around the circle. Some 50
Montana fifth wheels showed up, and
they formed a perfect circle around their
Quartzsite is filled with unusual
characters. As we walked one morning
we passed a couple making music
outside a rig. He had been a
professional musician in his day, and
she was enjoying his pointers and
accompaniment. Another day we were greeted by a
couple that puts on an animal show with their farm
animals in nearby Bouse. They were doing rig-to-rig
advertising as they drove their animals through the
desert and invited people to their show.
Sightings of "rare birds" is common in Quartzsite, and
people watching is great entertainment for everyone.
We visited Paul's Oassis Books
bookstore again, and he was
dressed in his holiday finest.
Seeing Quartzsite out of
season makes you wonder
what would ever draw anyone
to visit this desolate, dusty,
shabby town. But in January
from all over,
and the town
We are accustomed to seeing hummingbirds at our trailer window's
feeder, but where else would you peek out your window to see a small
plane land just a few feet away? We got a wave from the pilot when he
took off again!
culture but its
skies come alive
evening as well.
I loved the way
the whole desert
reflected in the
rear window of
we stopped in
in the White
west of the city.
One hike goes to a waterfall that runs
only after a torrential downpour. We were lucky and got a downpour and the waterfall was still
running when we hiked in. I was fascinated to see a rock covered with petroglyphs showing
squiggly horizontal lines. Clearly, the people who lived there a thousand or more years ago
noted the occasional presence of water by pecking out the universally recognized symbol of
water on the rock face.
After the holidays we
snuck back to San Diego
for the January sailboat