Fiery Sunsets and Interesting Folks in the Arizona Desert

Groups mark their territories and gather in the desert

in Quartzsite.

Whiling away the morning making music in the desert.

"Rowdy" of Cutler's Bull & Donkey Show

Quartzsite welcomes

characters of all kinds.... 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.

Water !!

And here it is, about 200 yards from the rock sign that the

ancients carved.

Arizona Deserts

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

and small

stores to a 120

square mile

parking lot

filled with

retired RVers

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

mammoth campfire.

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

people arrive

from all over,

and the town

comes alive.

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!

Not just


culture but its

skies come alive

morning and

evening as well.

We were

blessed with

several stunning

sunrises and


I loved the way

the whole desert

sunset scene

would be

reflected in the

rear window of

our trailer.

Between visits

to Quartzsite,

we stopped in

Phoenix for

Christmas.  We

took several

wonderful hikes

in the White

Tank mountains

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






























































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