2/16/2014 – Desert Rats

We are currently in Quartzite, Arizona, apparent RV center of the universe.  The population is somewhere around 4 or 5000 permanent souls (read: people who stay here year-round) but, come winter, I’d guess that population doubles at least.  You gotta wonder why.  I mean, granted, it’s nice and warm here.  It reached 92 degrees inside the camper yesterday and right now, at 7:45, I’m sitting outside in a t-shirt and shorts as I type.  This is the first morning since we left Oregon that I wouldn’t even consider firing up the furnace to at least take the chill off.  There’s just no chill to take off.  According to what I read, the area around here is mecca for rockhounds so that’s undoubtedly part of it as well.  It’s certainly not proximity to shopping as the closest supermarket (Safeway) or big box (Walmart) are in Parker, 35 miles north.  Most of the shopping, as near as we can tell, takes place in roadside tents.  There are booth after booth of cheap tools, jewelry, RV parts, more jewelry, Indian artwork, miscellaneous junk and more jewelry.  Amazingly, there are even a couple of tents selling groceries.

On the  north side of I-10, there are a huge bunch of people selling whatever kind of junk you’d find at any garage sale anywhere, just a LOT more of it.  These are the desert rats.  These guys manning the booths all look like they come from some old western movie.  Grizzled, prospector types. Sunburned skin, whiskers (usually white), and a big cowboy hat or sombrero.  From what I could gather listening, they’ll start packing up here around the end of the month and head up to Utah and then Colorado and continue to ply their wares before returning here next fall.

Many, if not most, of the RV parks here close down long about the end of March.  This place must look completely different in the summer.  If you wanted to see for yourself, you sure couldn’t find a much cheaper place to live.  We saw one RV park here that advertised $25/night or $176/month or $998/year.  According to my calculations, that means you could park your rig here for about $83/month.  I assume that electricity and maybe water is on top of that but it would be in a house as well.  Of course, if you really wanted to save dough, you could do like lots and lots of folks down here do and just boondock out in the desert.  It’s best not to ask how they handle their holding tanks because I’m pretty sure it’s illegal, environmentally unfriendly, and probably kind of yucky.  Something about digging a hole in the ground and running their discharge pipe to it.  Hmmm.  Sounds sketchy.

The campground we’re in right now is the B-10 Campground.  They close up on March 31.  I’m sitting in the central outdoor pavilion because the wifi is stronger here than at the rig.  There is a “liars’ circle” of campers sitting around a campfire shooting the breeze.  They have coffee and donuts for anyone who wants them.  Not sure if this is a daily ritual or just a Sunday one but I suspect it’s daily.  Very friendly place.  There is everything from a little dome tent with an improbable amount of stuff laying alongside, to a tiny tent trailer, a double dome tent setup, a little Dolphin minimotorhome (that’d be us) and then, every size rig you can imagine all the way up to the million dollar megabuses.

Today, we’re going to have to hit an interstate as, going east, I-10 is the only game in town.  However, we’ll only be on it for about 2 hours as we’re only going as far as Gila Bend.  The next day we’ll hit highway 85 and drive down through Ajo to Lukeville where we’ll spend our last night in the US.  The next day we’ll cross into Mexico at Sonoyta and meet up with our friends, Bill and Ellie, at their condo in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.  So, we’re looking forward to 3 very easy travel days.

Did I mention the weather?  It’s supposed to be 83 today and 50 tonight but I suspect it’ll be a wee bit warmer even than that.  Ahhhhhhh…….  I could be a desert rat.  Already have the grizzled prospector look going.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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6 Responses to 2/16/2014 – Desert Rats

  1. Kit says:

    Oh boy , you are correct on Quartzite! When we had the rv we would come down from Parker and Lake Havasu to head east towards Phoenix too. It just amazed us all of the rv’s out in the middle of nowhere! They do have ” pumper services’ for water and sewage though, well most do! You guys are real close to where we “winter” , we live in Maricopa , Az. now. Have a safe trip south and enjoy the sunshine. Take care, Kit and Mike

    • sryoder says:

      Hi Kit,

      I just looked up Maricopa on the map and it really is close to us. I can certainly understand “wintering” in this area. The weather is great and the desert is growing on me the longer I’m in it. Thanks for the comment. It’s fun to find out who’s out there reading.

  2. jamesdane says:

    Organ Pipe National Monument is just north of Lukeville and is one of the hidden jewels in the park system. There are no hookups, but there is a dump station and water. If you have Verizon you will have cell service and 3G, otherwise it is a phone and wifi dead area. The Ajo Golf course also had some camping when we went thru there about a week ago with an interesting fiddle contest if you like that kind of music. Enjoy the nice weather and stay safe.

  3. Don Strong says:

    Ah Sonoyta! Its been 45 years since my last crossing at Sonoyta.

  4. parrot17 says:

    So glad to hear you are heading back to Penasco. What day(s) will you be here? The suggestion above about Organ Pipe is an excellent one, and the entrance is only about 10 minutes north of the border. If you need full hook-up, though, stop in Ajo.

    Just a head’s up: since you last entered Mexico, they have been sticklers for produce and most especially meat products. If you are stopped at the line, chances are very good they will embargo all your beef, chicken, etc… They are anything but thorough, but if it is in an ice chest or refrigerator you can probably wave goodbye to it. Then again, you can do what we do and hide it.

    Do you still have a Mexico cell phone? If so, what is the number. Safe travels, and enjoy Gila Bend (hahahahaha)…. Kevin

    • sryoder says:

      Hey Kevin. We’ll be in PP Wednesday and Thursday for sure. Thanks for the heads-up re: meat and produce. We don’t have much but we do have some. Guess we’ll be eating it the next 2 nights.

      RE: Mexican cell phone. Yes we do have one but I have no idea what the number is. I’ll check and get back to you directly at the next wifi spot.

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