Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Boomtown Called Quartzsite

As I write this post over several days, I feel like we are in a media blackout. Why is it taking several days you ask? Well because of the amount of people in this area, internet service is nearly non existent. We have learned to get up early to take care of business and by 8 o'clock it becomes terrible. Downloading or uploading a picture takes what seems like forever. 5-10 minutes in a world used to instant gratification seems like a lifetime.

Quartzsite Arizona is a small little town on the western edge of Arizona near the California border on Interstate 10. The Interstate runs right through the town making it a great stop as you are traveling through on your way to California or east to Phoenix. Population in the summer according to the 2017 census is 3694 permanent residences here. The town sits in the desert and has very mild winters. Making it a favorite wintering spot for snowbirds.

According to an article from the "The Daily Universe", they say that nearly 2 million snowbirds pass through or stay in this area. For anyone who has been out here during the winter months knows how slow the internet can be with that many people all trying to get on it. The system is overwhelmed and it is near impossible to work, search, post or video chat with relatives back home.

There are a few small business' here year round. A pizza place, hardware store, a couple of small grocery stores and many campgrounds. Not enough business' to accomodate 2 million visitors though. So what happens at the beginning of the season is that a tent city starts arising. First one or two here and there and then as each week goes, more and more tents arrive. These tents carry anything a person could need and they know their customers. You have hardware tents, houseware tents, clothing, groceries, food vendors, rock tents and the most popular one is Beer Bellies, a bar.
Tents and RV's as far as you can see.

The big RV show has started now and that is the climax of things going on here. They set up a tent the size of a football field or bigger right in the middle. Inside they pack it full things related to RV's such as parts, gadgets of all kinds, campground deals and many other things as they try to separate you from your money. Outside the tent are more vendors highlighting their newest products and of course food. It is really like a carnival atmosphere around here and it will continue for 9 days.

If you are wondering where all of these people stay while they are here or if you are planning a trip here for next years event, don't worry, there's plenty of room. I think there are at least 10 campgrounds in town that can accommodate many many RV's. If you like the modern conveniences of full hookups, water, sewer and electricity.

The majority of the people will stay out in the desert boondocking. The BLM controls all of the land around Quartzsite and you can camp here all season (7 months) for 180 dollars. Or you can stay in 2 week increments for 40 dollars. A single dump station, water and garbage is available. These Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA's) are huge. There are 4 south of town. La Posa North, West, South and Tyson Wash. We are in La Posa South because that is where the dump and fill station is. These areas can hold thousands and thousands of campers so don't worry about not being able to find a spot.

And if that isn't enough room for people there are also places farther away from town, the 14 day free areas. There are areas north of town and south of town. And farther south of town is the KOFA wildlife refuge where you can camp for free also.
Looking towards the big tent.

This area becomes the largest campground in the world. It is really amazing to see it first hand and if you are an RVer, you should experience it at least once. I know people that have been coming back for many years now. This is our second visit to Quartzsite. Our first visit 4 years ago we missed the show, coming in in February. So this year we wanted to get here before the big show. It is interesting to see this place transform.
Wall to wall people at the show.

After the show, people and tents will start to filter out and then it will get smaller and smaller. They close the BLM area after April 15th because it gets too hot to live out there in RV's. Things will get back to normal for this dusty little town. They will have a break until next fall when the snowbirds start to make their annual migration south again. I guess we follow the seasons also but I don't think of us as snowbirds. We are still young so to speak. I think we shall call ourselves snowchicks.

On a more personal note. Our BFF's, as Sue put it have sold their fifthwheel and have driven back north to South Dakota to their new home they are building. Jim and Barb came down here specifically for that mission and we are glad that it worked out for them and didn't take very long to get it sold. They were here a month and we packed a lot of fun times in that short amount of time. When the day came for them to leave, it was sad to see them drive away. Leaving their rig in front of us for the new owner to pick it up.
Bye! We will never see you again. Thanks for the chairs!

On another personal note. Our garage in Minnesota is done for the most part anyways. The building is up.
The concrete will be done in the spring. We are anxious to see it. I am already planning the decorations for my man cave. My "guyrage".
First decoration for the wall.
Now the battle will begin over who owns the garage.

"Glady's! We should start thinking about leaving. I have too much dust in my lungs. Cough, Cough.".

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Inside a Genius's Mind

I don't claim to be a genius. Not in public anyways. But I find that as the more beer I may consume in an evening the better my brain works. I feel that I have come up with some great ideas sitting out in the desert. Attending many, many "Happy Hours". Not by choice. They have been forced upon me.

One great idea is the "Stool Bus". I have blogged a couple of times about that now and I am still in the Beta testing stages. Tweaking that daily and working out the kinks so that I will be ready to mass produce it in a factory in China. It will probably cost $19.99 even though I have already sunk in $66 on the proto type alone.
As I have to run to the dumper every other day, it is giving me ample opportunities to work on it. It has crashed now 3 times on its own. I may have to get a crash dummy for future tests.

My next great idea came to me on our Alaska trip. Deep inside of bear country with grizzlies lurking behind every bush I came up with this genius idea. It was so simple and I amazed that no one else has ever thought of it. As Lisa and I were enjoying cocktails, we would hear something in the bush behind us. We would both jump up, wet ourselves a little, to just see a squirrel or something.

I call this "Bear Chairs". I want to fasten two chairs together like that so that you never have to worry about a bear sneaking up on you. For the record, it does work best with 2 people. 

Finally my third inspiration. Since I am at the dump station so often, you wouldn't believe what I see going on there. People will actually dump their blue boys without using a hose. They just dump it on the ground hoping to hit the hole. It is gross and disgusting for the person behind them as there is fecal matter all over the ground. So my next invention is call "Poop Shoes". Or the technical term would be "Fecal footwear".
I found these in the dumpster not long after Jim and Barb left. I can wear these wading through the fecal pool and never have to bring them inside. Brilliant!

Until next time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Wreck of the Stool Bus

As I sit here and go over the horrible details of the event, I can't help but wonder how much worse it could have been. As you read about "The Wreck of the Stool Bus", in the back of your mind you can silently hum "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Or not.

It started as any other day. There was a quad ride scheduled for 10 AM that morning. Meaning I didn't have time to do the double dump and pump during the usual time I do it. Double dump and pump means I had to dump our black and grey tanks, which is 2 trips to the Sanidump in the Stool Bus. Also to fill our 55 gallon water tank with freshwater and then transfer it to our fresh water tank in the camper. All in all it takes about 2 hours to get all of that done. So I decided to go on the quad ride first and then dump and pump after.

The ride was fun and very dusty. So before I started the nasty work I stopped by Jim and Barb's. Soon as I turned off the Ranger, he stuffed a ice cold beer in my hand. Although against my better judgement I drank it as to not offend him. I will admit that it tasted very good and washed the dust down my throat. I politely told him I had to get my chores done and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for the beer. Before I could leave and before I knew it, Barb jumped on my lap to hold me down and Jim shoved another ice cold beer into my clenched fist.

"You can't leave until you finish that!" he said to me.

"Okay sir. If you insist. But after that I really must go before it gets dark." I said sheepishly. I had one more sip  left and I was ready to go. Before I could even finish that he shoved forcefully another can of ice cold beer into my hand. What was I supposed to do. I knew it was all about the beer with him.

Case in point. He said "Let's go to Lake Havasu City. There's some breweries I want to go to. So we drive the 2 hours to Lake Havasu and go to one brewery. Mudsharks it was called.
Here Lisa and I are posing with a homeless lady we picked up. So we go in have a beer and lunch and leave. Go to the next one, Hanger 24. Have a beer and leave. Drive back the 2 hours in my truck getting 18 miles to the gallon. I could have had 2 beers at home and saved the 100 bucks for the day. One time in South Dakota, we drove 3 hours to a brewery for one beer. If we are driving that far for a beer, I want to get shit faced. 

Oops. I got off point. So I had almost finished my second beer when again he just forcefully puts another ice cold beer in my hand. Again, against my better judgement and not to offend him by refusing his hospitality I accepted it. Thankfully Jim has a small bladder and as he left to go use the bathroom, I knocked Barb off my lap and escaped to my camper to start my chores. Crisis averted.

The first dumping went without a hitch. Which is good because the first one is the black tank. I get back to our rig and dump the grey tank. I hook it up to the Ranger.
And proceed to go to the sanidump for the second load. The first sanidump was busy so I head off to the second one a mile away. There is a slight turn. Apparently I took the turn too fast (Must have been the alcohol) and it tipped right over and I drug it about 20 feet. I jump out of the Ranger expecting it to be leaking all over but I lucked out.Just some minor road rash.
I tipped it back up on its wheels and headed off to the sanidump. I am driving along and look in the rear view mirror and notice that there is a lot of dust following me. I stop again and look at the stool bus. What I see is that one of the straps has come off, wrapped itself around the wheel, completely locking up the wheel. It was dragging like that for sometime because it really chewed up the tire.
So as I was stranded by the side of the road trying to untangle the strap around the wheel, people would just drive by and look. I ended up cutting the strap away and very gingerly continued my trip to the sanidump. The stool bus just hobbled along making weird thumping noises. I dumped and then threw the stool bus into the back of the Ranger and went home. All-in-all I should blame Jim for all of that. Making me get a DWI. Dumping While Intoxicated.

So if you run the numbers and let me tell you that Lisa has done it dailly and won't let me forget it.
The cart was $36 dollars but they took off $6 because it was the floor model. So $30. One wheel was about to burst because of the rocky terrain. So I replaced it with a new one. $12 dollars. Then the other tire was showing signs of failure. So another $12. Then the wreck came. Another tire. $12 dollars again. So I have spent $66 dollars to haul our crap literally across the desert. I still have 10 more dumpings before we leave. I hope the stool bus makes it.

On a more personal note. Jim and Barb said to us. "Drive us to Yuma! It will be fun!" So we did and that day became the day I refer to as The Sushi Incident.  Or also the day I almost starved to death. You can read about it here if you haven't heard about it. Which I think everyone has.

I am too traumatized to relate all of the gory details. We have been busy with lots of quad rides and other day trips which I will have to write about later because I feel a cramp coming on.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Nothing but Quad Rides

I am going to just post some pictures of some of the quad runs I have been on. The first one is a run to the Deere Run Resort. Deep in the heart of the Dome Mountains. We gathered at Earl and Allison's camper. I think there was a group of eight of us. Me being the only American. Everyone else is from Canada and they are such a nice group to be running around in the desert with. We started heading over to the dome mountains but as we were crossing a housing development called Rainbow Acres, Earl spotted a desert Christmas tree.
As we all stopped for a photo op, Boscoe, Jim and Cec's black lab decided to leave his own gift under the tree, er, cactus.
Jim quickly took care of it as I was having a good laugh about it. Back in the quads we headed into the mountains. The trail became very rocky and washed out due to some past rains. Since my co-pilot has abandoned me, I can not getting any trail pictures as I drive. We made it to the resort.

It wasn't the nicest resort I have been to. In fact it is just a concrete slab with junk on it. People haul out stuff like recliners and tables and other things to decorate it. It is just mainly a destination to go to. We had lunch and then someone spotted the Goodyear Blimp as it did a flyby.
I took the opportunity take a few photos of the giants of the desert. The Saguaro cactus.

These were easily 25-30 feet tall.We loaded up and made our way back to our campers. It was a fun ride and there were some challenging areas which I like. I am gaining confidence in the Ranger as I drive it more over rougher terrain.

The next ride was going to be to Lazarus Tank. A watering hole out in the desert for wildlife. We again met at Earl's for the ride.Once gathered we headed out into the desert. This was going to be a longer ride. We stopped to stretch our legs and I took some pictures of a forest of Cholla (Teddy Bear) cactus's.

You don't want to get too close to these little cactus. They look furry but they will stick to anything. In fact some say that the little tops jump off at you. I had one stuck in my tire. To get it off, Steve said the best way was to use a comb. Then you need a pliers to remove the barbs. On the way to Lazarus tank we went by Guadalupe Mountain. It is a tall mountain near Quartzsite with an array of radio and cell towers on it. 
It doesn't look that bad from the bottom and from miles away. As you get closer it gets bigger. The road to the top is full of switchbacks and drop offs. Again no pictures going up.
Here we are at the top. The views were spectacular.
This is part of the road near the top. It was a little nerve wracking with just the Ranger but they actually drive propane trucks up here to run the generators or something. 

What goes up must come down. The drive down was a little nerve wracking also. I was hoping the brakes would make it to the bottom because of all of the switchbacks. You would go right over the edge is you missed the turn. We then crossed the interstate and headed to Lazarus tank.

The tank is a natural watering hole set in the mountains. I guess in the summer the DNR will pump water into it for the wildlife. There are many tanks and watering holes set up in the desert for all of the little critters.
I was hiking to the tank and turned around to take a picture of the group. There is a pipeline on the ground where they pump water from trucks up into the tank. For some reason I forgot to take a picture of the tank. My bad. Here is a picture of the Lone Ranger though.

On a more personal note. I borrowed a picture from Jim and Barb. He sent his drone up and took a picture of our neighborhood.
If you could take a picture from a high flying plane, you would see 1000's of campers out here and more and more are coming in each day. January is the busiest month here. We are looking forward to the big show.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 is a Wrap

The end to a very busy year. We have been places. 80 places in fact. Our new truck has 38,000 miles on it in one year.We have seen people. Many people.
Our travel map speaks for itself. What does 2020 bring? We don't know yet but are willing to find out.

Happy New Year everyone. If you see us on the road, get the hell out of our way!