Leaving Quartzsite, I went to Gila Bend to attend my initiation to the Elks and spent a couple of days camping in their parking lot. This is a strange little city, at a crossroads between major highways and a road to the Mexican border. Then on to Casa Grande to attend the Gourd Show with Shar. I kicked myself for not taking my camera to the show, because some of the gourd creations were absolutely amazing. Beautiful and inspiring. The only thing I bought was a lovely small painted carving of dragonflies.
While at the SKP park, Marv Braun, who installed my solar panels last winter, put a 12-volt outlet in my dining area. This will make working at the table much more convenient. He assured me that since my solar panels charge the coach batteries to 100% most days, even when it’s cloudy, and I rarely (never) go below at least 80% charge, then apparently I have adequate panels and batteries “to suit my lifestyle”. That’s good to hear.
Next stop was Ajo, where I stayed again at an Elks lodge, in a very convenient location. This is a nice little town that’s quiet and very pleasant for walking. In the central plaza, which is all blazing white, a small gift shop even sells my friend Toni’s pressed flower prints. I had thought I might camp in the free BLM area of the desert behind the mines, but this is so much better, and is adjacent to a good path with bridge over the dry creek next to my campsite.
I decided to keep driving south to Organ Pipe National Monument and check out the border crossing. I still wasn’t sure if I would continue to Mexico, but the next day I decided to go for it. I was surprised when both the U.S. and Mexican border guards just waved me through. Perhaps it made a difference that I still have the 10-year permit for travel in Mexico on my motor home. I had heard that some of the Solos were camping at Concha del Mar RV Park on the beach at Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), so I decided to stop there. It’s only an hour and a half south of the border and I hadn’t been to this place for more than 25 years. I wasn’t very impressed then, but who knows? Unfortunately I wasn’t aware that the city streets were all under construction, and it was an adventure finding the RV site, with much turning around and misdirection, and even for the first time having to disconnect the car to get turned around on a narrow street that was being paved (no warning signs, of course). Finally I found some American campers to lead me through the maze of streets, but then I followed them as they drove through a red light and I got stopped by a local policeman for the first time ever in Mexico. My guide turned around and the policeman wanted us both to go to the police station to pay a fine, but he understood that I would have to disconnect the motor home and leave it first. So he followed us to the Playa Bonita park where they were camping and by the time I came out of the office the guy was paying the policeman $30 off the record, and he happily went on his way. It was a relief to find the right campground and settle at my own patch of sand near the beach to rest and recuperate.
I have spent three weeks next to the Sea of Cortez in a big open sandy lot. There were a couple dozen WIN members here over the first week, but I’m not part of their group. There are other non-joiners from the U.S. and Canada and it’s fun getting to know them. Shar finally decided to come down here too, for a while, although she was scared to death about traveling in Mexico. I finally emailed her that I would keep driving south if she wasn’t coming, and suddenly she showed up. This town is very Americanized, as I remembered from before, but it’s full of nice local people and the weather has been perfect. There’s lots of shopping, people-watching, and places to walk.
Shrimper boats are working right offshore in the bay every day, there are many opportunities to go fishing and the seafood is wonderful. Restaurants are everywhere, some are really good.
Many RVers were getting cleaning, painting, repairs, and other work done at low prices, so I asked about refinishing the scratches I got at the Live Oak gathering in California. Antonio did the job by himself for only $80, and it was a kick to see him mixing the paint in a coke bottle, adding tint a drop at a time, and testing it with his finger. He did a good job and I took many pictures of the day’s work.
I was so ready to get on the road again! Alaska weather had warmed up in January which means the snow was melting and then it started raining, with the result that everyplace outdoors became a glare of ice. People were worried about falling down and it was easier to stay inside and watch the snow melting and then the ice being frozen solid again every morning. I looked forward to camping somewhere warm, in the sunshine, meeting old and new friends, and traveling with my dog again.
Since I am determined to downsize my life and get rid of possessions, I had told my son Grey that I would try to bring my last two rifles with me on the plane. It’s been a long time since I checked a firearm as baggage, and as it turned out some of the information I got from the airlines wasn’t exactly what TSA required. There was a scary half-hour while checking in at Kenai, since the agent decided I would need two more padlocks on the hard case before they would take it. Fortunately the kindest cab driver in the world was at the airport and she raced over to Walmart, ran in and spent her own money to get two little luggage locks and sped back to the airport to deliver them to me in time to get everything onto the plane! I had to claim the gun case and re-check it with TSA in Anchorage, but there was no problem. At no time did anybody even open the case to inspect anything, which surprised me.
After that excitement, surviving the stress and then the relief, the flight down to Las Vegas was good, and I was surprised to fly directly over the long stretches of Nevada desert for the first time, to see how empty it all looks from the air. I enjoyed spending a couple of nights with Grey before driving my car back to Blythe to pick up the motor home. We needed my new Christmas air compressor to put air in both driver’s side tires on the Acura, and it worked slow but did the job just fine. Nearly two weeks later there have been no more leaks. My Lazy Daze “home” seemed okay after being parked for a month, and I made it to Quartzsite just after noon on Tuesday after stopping at the Arizona border to get gas. I was delighted to find that Grey was right, the generator had no problem starting up as soon as I had more than a quarter tank of gas in the motor home engine. So I have learned something new again.
There were more than 20 Lazy Dazes at our parking area on the BLM land at the long term visitors area (LTVA) where we pay $40 for 14 days. There had been as many as 35 rigs during the past two weeks, but I was somewhat late getting there. Our site is very convenient, only about a mile from the middle of town and the Big Tent RV Show. Our friend Kathy had experienced a terrifying disaster when her towed vehicle brakes had been partially locked, so the tread tore off its front tires, the brake lines got destroyed, and she was lucky not to have the whole thing burn up on the highway! As a result many of the RV owners were buying and installing tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Another woman in our group had her grey water tank actually fall off on the road! So everyone was also busy tightening all the bolts under their rigs. These are only two of the many improvements and maintenance items that were discussed at the afternoon Happy Hours and evening campfires.
I hurried over to the “Boomerville” camp the day after my arrival, to attend their busy day of activities. I had joined the Boomers a year ago, but this was the first time I visited their group, and it was really a fun day. They had a bread-baking contest (yummy!), a presentation from “Mac the Fire Guy” that included an actual demonstration escape from an RV, and then a slideshow and discussion of RVing in Europe. I was especially interested to hear Joyce and Larry Space talk about their motor home travels around Scandinavia, through Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Their pictures were inspiring and it was great to hear how they designed their travel van and then shipped it overseas. What nice people!
During the week, I also visited some of the “solo” groups of single RVers — the SKP Solos, the WINs (wandering individuals network), and the LOWs (loners on wheels). As my friend Andrea says, I haven’t exactly found my “RVing Tribe” yet, but it’s nice to know groups with whom you can camp, travel, and visit. I particularly enjoy the gatherings of the Lazy Daze group, always see people I know, meet new friends, and learn more about my own motor home. It’s fun to see the improvements that have been made for new ideas, and to learn how different models compare.
While in “Q” I met the infamous Naked Bookseller, Paul Winer, and attended his boogie-woogie and blues concert at the community center. Paul is a lifelong nudist and has run a bookstore in this town for more than 20 years. He does wear a little g-string pouch, as agreed with the city, but was dressed for the concert and changed outfits several times. It was quite fun and entertaining.
Another day I went with the Solos group out to the completely off-the-grid Desert Bar, about 50 miles away past the city of Parker in the hills above the Colorado River on a really terrible road. The bar is big, runs completely on solar power, is open only on weekends, and has good food with live music and dancing. Another fun adventure!
I have especially enjoyed these last days with the few people who have stayed until everyone else was gone. It’s quieter and more personal, easy to be sociable or not, and to have more time to get to know each other. I like to collect pictures of solo women hooking up their tow rigs, and will eventually put an album online. Here is my friend Kathy with her complicated hookup system, and us together in front of my motor home.
My next stop will be just two hours away at Gila Bend, for the big RVers installation to their Elks Lodge, then to Casa Grande to meet up again with Shar, my friend from Seward for the Gourd show. After that I plan to go to the Lake Havasu “Winter Blast” pyrotechnic fireworks show with the Boomers. I adore fireworks, so this will be amazing!