January 19, Tuesday
With the initial burst of social activities and chores now behind, I find myself with a reasonable chunk of free time and no set plan. Some exploring is in order.
Behind camp, the dirt road ends in large wash which is the end of the line for RVers. ATVs however were made for this kind of driving. They can climb the steep bank on the other side of the wash and their trail makes a decent hiking path.
Up on higher ground again and looking back towards the Xscampment (as the Xscapers have christened our little area), it’s easy to see that we’re not as alone as it seems. Our camping area is on lower ground, so the interstate and other RVers are hidden from view by the slope of the land. It’s great to have that kind of privacy in a place like Quartzsite.
The ATV track parallels the hills (and mountains farther behind them) to the west of camp. As it’s already later in the afternoon, the sun makes getting photos of them hard. Maybe I can curve around behind the closer hills for better lighting, and just to see what’s there. It requires leaving the ATV track behind.
An interesting thing I’m learning about the desert, you don’t really need a trail. There’s so little brush and obstacles that you can pretty much just pick a direction and start walking. Just make sure you know how to get back!
Even back here, there are signs of humanity. A full-sized couch is tipped upside down on a bare patch of gravel. Judging by the fading and wear on the upholstery and the rusted state of the springs, it’s been here a while. One small wash is littered with spent cartridge shells, I do wish people would pick up after themselves. When you get away from the garbage though, the land looks remarkably untouched and wild. It’s so hot in the summer that I bet most of the year this area is untouched.
Compared to my last camp on the east side of town, there are more ocotillo here, and they’re fun to photograph. One of them has a few orange leaves on the ends, from what I’ve heard they’re really beautiful in spring when they bloom… the whole desert really. I’m hoping to still be boondocking around the southwest when spring comes.
Over the mountains the wispy clouds are congealing into a dark mass that is slowly creeping over the sun. It looks menacing, but there is no rain in them. If you look closely at the hills, you’ll see roads zig-zagging up some of them. There are a lot of abandoned mines around here and a lot of those roads end in mine shafts. I’ll have to check that out sometime.
I’ve found another ATV track, leading right up the nearest hill. I bet there’ll be a good view from up there.
To the south, the valley rolls on for miles. Two areas speckled with white denote habitation, whether it’s RVers or buildings is hard to say. The mountains far in the distance look quite jagged. I bet that range is tall enough to have a name.
To the north, I10 stretches from horizon to horizon and along it runs Dome Rock Road and prime boondocking territory.
To the west, a rounded peak dominates the skyline. I thought that would be Dome Rock, but am later told by folks at camp that they believe it’s called Sugarloaf. It does have at least one mine.
And down below, to the northeast, lies the Xscampment. It looks like we have 20 rigs right now, I’ve circled Cas and Bertha.
What a fun hike, and it only took about an hour of slow meandering to do! A couple hours later on a short evening hike with other Xscapers, the sky turns pink and those clouds that came in make a magnificent canvas for another great desert sunset.
January 20, Wednesday
A trip to Quartzsite would hardly be complete without a visit to the Big Tent. Open from the 16th to the 24th this year, the big tent show is housed, yes, in a very large tent. Inside are hundreds of vendor booths selling just about any RV related gear or gadget you could think of alongside more traditional fair-type knick-knacks and products.
To get to the big tent, one must traverse a gamut of RVs lined up around the tent, there are no fewer than 12 entrances and most have concession stands outside. It’s quite a maze. Luckily, porta potties are also in abundance.
I’m tempted by a leather purse for $15 with a long strap that goes over the shoulder, but I’m not sure it’d be big enough to hold my Kindle, so I don’t make the purchase. I actually don’t spend a dime in the big tent, but I do spend $12 on products at the booths outside the big tent. $1 for a new soup ladle (mine got lost somehow), $1 for a package of eight black tank liquifyer/deodorizers, and $10 for three tubes of the Pro-Flex RV caulk I love so much. To compare, one tube of Pro-Flex costs $16 at Camping World.
In the evening, I spend an hour and a half beating myself up with bags on the end of strings. Cherie is giving a lesson on poi spinning and I’m always up for learning new things. I have a lot of fun, but lets just say it’ll be a while before it’d be safe for me to try it with fire.
For being theoretically out in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do, my days are surprising full and rich.
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