RVing Quartzsite
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quiet Spot Not Far From Quartzsite--2 Weeks Free

"I tell you guys," crowed our friend Mike, "I found my spot. It's like a whole different place--it's like the Painted Desert!" Mike and his wife had been out exploring, looking for a place to "get away" for a little while with their new travel trailer. And not far out of Quartzsite, they found it.

We couldn't hold off checking out the find, so "over the hill," we went, looking for the 'Painted Desert.' Well, admittedly, Mike doesn't get out a whole lot, but it was truthfully a whole different place. Sure, there were plenty of the familiar ocotillo, saguaro, cholla, and Palo Verde, but the feel of the place was entirely different. Maybe it's a change from the "flat" of the LaPaz Valley environ to something a little more rugged, seasoned with a topography that just seems a long way from civilization.

Where is this promised land? Well, take Highway 95 north out of downtown Quartzsite to milepost 12. Here you'll find the Plomosa Road, and one of the ever-popular BLM "short term" areas. But instead of pulling in and immediately dropping the hook with the rest of the big snowbird crowds, keep the RPMs up as you travel east along the blacktop, clear on out of the 14-day short term area, and on "over the hill." Once you make it over the pass, you'll feel the difference, believe us.

By my reckoning (with a little help from a DeLorme GPS unit) the western edge of the next 14-day free camping area begins in the neighborhood of N33.49.4195 by W114.3.5437, give or take. You'll see the BLM signs indicating available camping, and on both sides of the road are inviting offshoot roads that can lead you way "off in the brush." Is it quiet? Does the President wish he could run for another term? Heavenly day, it's so quiet that this old bird could clearly hear the ringing in his ears, until finally (blessedly) a little breeze puffed up and rattled the ocotillos.

When we went through the Plomosa Short Term area on the western side of the pass, there were plenty of folks already marking their wintering territory, but on the eastern side, we saw maybe four rigs in an area of many, many square miles. Will that wide open space continue as wide open? Don't know. Never been before. But you can be assured that when the folks on the Quartzsite side are shoehorning space for their solar panels, there'll still be plenty of room for coyotes to prowl around the rigs on the Bouse side. Just do us a favor: Don't tell Mike we told you so.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Fiberglass RV Owners Plan QZ Gathering

A specialized RV owners group is planning a little convocation for the Quartzsite area for the first of February. Members of the Molded Lightweight Fiberglass RV organization are planning to get out of the cold and into the warmth on February 1st and 2nd.

We've heard of all kinds of RV groups, but this is the first time we've heard of a group tied into molded fiberglass. Maybe you're not familar with the rigs--but you've no doubt seen them. Bearing names like "Boler," and "Burro," and "Scamp" these cute little rigs have a following all their own. Fact is, the group has a web site dedicated to these critters at www.fiberglassrv.com. To learn more about the gathering, visit the group's forum entry on the matter here.

Photo: fiberglassrv.com

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Name Arizona's Second Largest Tourist Attraction

If you said Quartzsite, the RV Mecca, you could be close. But rather, if statistics are truthful, the second (only to the Grand Canyon) is London Bridge--at Lake Havasu City. Yep, nearly two and half million people visit the London Bridge every year, and therein lies a tale.

When the fairer-sexed editor of this blog's father was alive, he used to laugh himself nearly sick about, "The fellow who bought the London Bridge." My father-in-law thought he'd met a lot of fools in his life, but he figured that Robert McCulloch had to be somewhere near the top of the list. 'Yes sir, the man bought the London Bridge, and now he's gonna use it cross the desert!' McCulloch was as crazy as the proverbial fox. His purchase of the London Bridge for less than $2.5 million became legend. Not all of the bridge came to America--some stayed behind in Jolly England to cover taxes, but the rest was carefully dismantled and the pieces numbered.

After McCulloch reconstructed The London Bridge across a small spit of land near the Colorado River, he cleverly engineered a minor feat: Over a million cubic yards of dredge was removed, and a diversion of a portion of the waterway ran under his new bridge.

A largely empty spot on the Arizona desert became one of the hottest attractions on Arizona's "West Coast," and today plenty of folks flock to this winter paradise. Lake Havasu City has more attractions that just the bridge, and a lot of smart doctors who make their living practicing on the ailments of old folks have relocated there. It's a short trip, less than an hour and half following Arizona Highway 95 north from Quartzsite through Parker. The route itself is scenic, allow time to stop and admire the Bill Williams Wildlife Reservoir north of Parker.

Construction photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Boondocking Quartzsite for the First Time?

Folks new to the "boondocking" or dry camping scene often wonder how we do it. Here's a tip on how to get fresh water to your rig quickly and easily--and a pointer on where to get the equipment in Quartzsite to do it. Visit our sister blog, Low Tech RVing.

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Quartzsite: Recalled to Life

While the town council tries to make Quartzsite a "year around town," RVing is what brings life to this big little town each winter. And like the old gold rush days, there are plenty of vendors to supply the every need of those who come to this little town in the West. If the Old Prospector were to poke his head out the window and look down into LaPaz Valley, he'd see that things are coming back to life.

While there aren't "scads" of RVers yet, the support groups are getting plenty ready for them. Restaurants who hang out the "closed for the season sign" are cleaning the silverware: The Quail Cafe up on Moon Mountain is already dishing up food, as is the Palo Verde and La Casa Mi Rancho on Highway 95. Year-around outfits like Taco Mio and Janet's Kitchen are now serving their Friday fish specials. Noticeably absent from the line up? Sweet Darlene's is still closed up tight, but the rumor mill has it they're planning a new facade for their store.

Down at the other end of town, the future of the Stagecoach is questionable--at least in our opinion. "No Trespassing" and "Not for Lease" signs blanket the windows. What's the deal? One local source tells us that the outfit that owns the place isn't willing to offer up anything more to potential restaurateurs other than a month-to-month rental on the feed lot. With that kind of an offer, who really wants to invest the time and energy into opening the place up with the potential of getting skidded out the door on your fryer grease? Since the location is the weekly meeting place of the Escapees RV club, who knows what the future holds for coffee and gab for SKPs.

Other popular RV haunts are reviving: K&B Tools has the tent up and running. The Gambler appears to be dusting off his stock. The produce palace across the street from the post office began moving in last week, and the local "dent tents" for low priced groceries are geared up. Of course, the RV Pit Stop has been open all year, and Charlie is looking forward to seeing to it his customers have plenty of LP, fresh R.O. water, and ice at a buck a bag.

Come on down!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Steel Yourself: B-10 Project in Progress

RVers coming into Quartzsite by way of Interstate 10 exit 17 prepare yourselves: The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is "at work" doing a major widening project. From the Tyson Wash crossing west to the freeway access road, heavy equipment, barricades, and slow moving vehicles (and maybe some workers) are the order of the day. Traffic is limited to one lane each direction through the work zone, and the posted speed limit is now 25. Of course, for those who've experienced the Quartzsite phenomenon at high season will recognize that 25 miles per hour on the "B-10" would be a dream come true.

The end result, according to town pundits, will be a dream come true. Five lanes of blacktop will whisk semi trucker and RVer to their destination in record time. And says ADOT, it should only take eight short months for the project start to finish. Since it all got rolling in April, the promise is that the dust, noise, and urban renewal will all be vanished by the time the big shows start. We can only hope the reality is the same as the promise.

Meantime, if you're looking to avoid congestion and don't need to visit the Pilot for a refuel, avoid that end of town. Getting off the freeway at exit 17 and heading south, to say Love's is still quick and easy. But you can bet yer brand new sewer hose that when the traffic starts to build, folks will be bottle necking the off ramps and even heading south from 17 will be a great exercise in self-control.

Our suggestion? Skip exit 17 altogether. If you're headed to any of the LTVA areas, take exit 19 and head south to Kuhen Road, take it west to Highway 95 and turn left. Want to access the 14 day areas east or north of town? Exit 19 is the answer: For the north end short-term areas, take the B-10 past "Sweet Darlene's" and make a quick right turn at the next intersection--Plymouth. Follow Plymouth north to the "L" and make a left, thence out to Highway 95 and a right turn. For Scadden Wash short term, head south as if heading to the LTVAs, but turn left on Kuhen. And for Dome Rock short term? Take the Dome Rock exit--number 11, west of town off I-10. You'll save yourselves miles of frustration.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Purveyor Pokes Pinholes in Pizza Paucity

What many RVers have missed in Quartzsite might well be taken care of: Good pizza--delivered.

A little electric car is now flitting about Quartzsite, delivering those Italian wheels, gooey with cheese, and flowing with fragrance. Did you meet Otis last year, when he was down by the Quartzsite Yacht Club? Don't look for him there this year: Pizza Wheel has moved location and spiffed up in the Quartzsite General Store parking lot. Here's a spot where you can cruise in, bring your own soda (or buy one of his) and sit under the shade of a new pizza tent. Or, for some, even better, pick up that cell phone and dial in for delivery: Yep, Otis will now bring your pizza to you for just a buck additional.

If you're not familiar with the Pizza Wheel's offerings think of "The Fifty Pounder." Yeah, 50 pounds would be a lot of pizza, but we'll reveal the "secret:" 50 slices of pepperoni plus a full pound of cheese. A 20 incher that will feed 5 or 10 folks. I dunno, my taste buds turn over just dreaming of the Supreme: sausage, sweet peppers, onions--and I'll add a bit of those optional pineapple bits. Could I mow my way through 14" of Supreme for $11.99? Time will tell.

Otis' Pizza Wheel offers four varieties of pizza in three different sizes--it's his specialty. But don't let your guard down: Already the pizza is proving priceless--two times already (before the season is rolling) Otis has run out of dough: "When it's gone, it's gone," Otis shrugs. There's only so much room in the pizzeria.

Pizza Wheel at 410 East Main Street--the Old B-10--open 11AM to 7PM, but closed Tuesdays. Give 'em a call for in-town delivery at (928) 927-5339.

And beware: It's presumed prodigal pepperoni purchases will propagate your paunch.

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