Saturday, February 7, 2009

Quartzsite and Back to Yuma

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Quartzsite during the Big Tent is a zoo

The Big Tent is now the size of three football fields. The aisles are wider so it can accommodate more people but there doesn’t appear to be any more vendors. If anything, there may have been fewer vendors. Certainly there were lots of visitors to the tent but they tend to look rather than buy. There are three shows held in the tent. The RV show is the biggest, then the Arts and Craft Show and finally the Classic Cars.
The traffic was horrendous (as usual) and the 14 day BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Visitor Areas were packed beyond belief. In all our times visiting Quartzsite, we have never experienced so many people on the 14 day free areas but we did have a lizard who came to visit regularly.

We stayed at the High Jolly area so that I could scoot back and forth to the signings at the Reader’s Oasis Books place via the back road and avoid some of the traffic.

We never do sit still. Even at Quartzsite we tour around and often travel west on Highway 10 to Blythe, in California to do our grocery shopping and check out the citrus crops.

Wrong book – wrong venue!

It didn’t take me long to realize that I was not going to sell many books at the Reader’s Oasis Books place. People came in for two reasons: to find a particular book they were looking for (at a reasonable price) and have their pictures taken with Paul (the owner who wears a thong and a hat). In the total time I was there, Paul bought two books (wholesale), I traded books with another author there and I sold one book to a customer. BUT – a great bunch of writers (authors) and we did enjoy each others company.

Trading seems to be the way to relieve the RV of some of the weight of all those books. I now have a tin-man (that sits outside the RV when we’re parked); a magnetic anklet that guarantees it will help sooth your arthritis (which I don’t have); a jar of special moisturizing cream (that will keep your skin young and vibrant – doesn’t say anything about the rest of your body); two new T-shirts and four new visors.
We lasted a couple of weeks in Quartzsite and then migrated down to Yuma again. Our plan was to dry camp at the Cocopah Casino but the RV area was full; there were umpteen dozen RVs waiting in the parking lot to move in; and Security came around and more or less kicked us out – they told us we couldn’t stay in the parking lot. Well, like so many of our plans, we went on to plan B and called to see if we could rent a site in the Foothills.
The Foothills is primarily a residential area adjacent to Yuma. Every lot is surrounded by a 'Mexican brick' fence and most of the lots are set up to accommodate two units – some have gorgeous adobe homes - others smaller RVs. The folks we met around six years ago who 'took care of us' when Fred got sick, live in the Foothills and we were able to rent a site next door to them for a couple of weeks – AND we can hook-up with the WiFi – ah-h-h my world is feeling so much better!
As I told one of our friends, we probably know Yuma better than we know Lethbridge; we’ve been here so often.

The Desert has Lakes!

It’s fun when you find folks to explore new places with and Chuck and Sheila are just that type of a couple. Our first excursion was out to the Alamo Lake State Park. The trip out was more interesting than the Lake itself (although it is reputed to be the 5th largest lake in Arizona and a great fishing place).
The first place we stopped was at an old run-down set of buildings that sported a sign saying Garage Sale. Chuck described the fellow that ran the place as “the ugliest man I’ve ever seen”. He wouldn’t let me take his picture – that should tell you something – but I did get a couple of pictures of the building and the signs.

The next stop along the road was a For Sale Ranch. Now, for sale signs are not unusual anywhere in Arizona, but this place had some interesting paraphernalia gracing the fence and the stink it eluded was indescribable!

And then there was the back road we took back through Wickenburg! It started out not too bad gravel but the further we went the worse it got.
The terrain was fascinating with groves of Joshua Trees and huge many-armed Saguaro but when we finally reached the pavement at Hwy 93, we looked back at the sign that told us this road was no longer maintained. By this point – we knew that.

And, of course, when in Yuma, a trip to Algodones, Mexico is a inevitable. Algodones is south of Highway 10 from California but less than ½ an hour from Yuma and is one big Medical Center. Every street is lined with pharmacies, dentists, optical offices, doctors interspersed with vendors selling mostly leather, jewellery, and such.
Needless to say most visitors go down there to take advantage of the reasonable prices. As you walk down the street, you are inundated with hawkers who telling you everything is almost free and considering the price of drugs and medical services in the US, it could seem like that.
I got my teeth cleaned ($15.00 USD) and Sheila is getting new hearing aides for less than ½ what she would have to pay in Canada. We have never heard anyone complain about the dental work they have had done down there – all the way from cleaning to implants.
There are usually a number of Mexican Indians (Mayan) who peddle or beg on the street but this is the first year I have seen anyone with very different merchandise from Chiapas. Their goods are all hand-made and very colourful.

No visit to the Yuma area is complete without a visit to a date farm and a date shake. This is what a date farm looks like! The dates grow in bunches near the top of the trees and usually harvested mechanically. The fields need to be flooded to encourage germination. They usually ripen right on the trees but some are picked before they ripen and are sun-dried. Basically they are sent off to a packing plant and washed; fumigated; sorted; packed and sold or made into sweet type things. Good medicinal-type qualities! The farms around here grow 'Medjool' dates that grow and keep well.

We’ll be leaving Yuma next week and are planning to go east – south probably to somewhere around Ajo and Why, AZ. But you know us – plans could change.