By Russ and Tiña De Maris
In their travels, RVers encounter many strange phenomenons. We’re not referring to the “UFO Highway” or even appearances of the Aurora Borealis. It’s more circumstances on the road that just seem to pop up that try our ability to adapt. It could be interstate traffic that’s “wall to wall and ten feet tall,” or something less subtle – say picking up a good case of foodborne illness while dining at “Ptomaine Betty’s Bar and Grill.”
In any event, adaptability is the key to continuing happiness. Witness the phenomenon of the “Quartzsite Crawl.”
Come November of every year, one of those events suitable for presentation in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” occurs in Quartzsite, Ariz. As the snowbirds begin their mass infusion into this desert oasis, it seems as if the Town Fathers are hell-bent for mischief. We emphasize “it seems,” because whether true or not, some swear street maintenance crews have changed out the speed signs from 35 mph to 15 mph on all the town’s arterials.
Not to be outdone, Uncle Sam’s helpers at the post office fall right into lockstep. The lines at the post office stretch out from the counter, clear into the lobby, and around the farthest corner away and down the back wall loaded with mail boxes. Wags coming out from the counter will tell recently arrived unfortunates, “There’s free beer at the other end of the line!”
Private industry joins in on the fun, too. Try and find ice or ketchup in their respective dispensers down at Burger King or McDonald’s. Sticking your appropriate ketchup container under the spout and pushing the button generally gives you – not “fire engine oi” – but rather, a noise that would make a bed-full of sleepover grade-school boys erupt in fits of giggles.
We have investigated this thoroughly. We have discovered that none of the conspiracy theories hold water. Other than occasional road construction on the B-10, the speed limits really haven’t changed. And although Harvey at the post office retired years ago, Reuben is faithfully at his spot at the counter every day, his arms practically invisible as they fly across his postal meter. And by carefully observing fast-food workers (when we would actually find a table to observe from), they really do refill dispensers.
These slowdowns are evidently not the result of some sort of Star Trekian time warp, nor part of a concerted labor slowdown in protest for greater pay. It seems it’s just the annual malaise that’s associated with the snowbird migration. It’s more to do with what happens when you dump literal tens of thousands of folks into a town more properly designed for, what, maybe 1,500? What’s an RVer to do?
We’re not Zen advocates, but a mindset change can help. It’s not difficult to discern between those who can, and do, and those who can’t – or just plain won’t. It’s most discernible out on the blacktop when folks get behind the wheel of their toad or tow vehicle. Those who can make the mindset change from “Big City” to “Quartzsite” are the ones who won’t be spitting out teeth from their dentures (which is related to high levels of jaw pressure). It’s true, the guys at the auto parts store report selling fewer horn buttons to those who down-shift their mental gearing.
Manifestations in physical health are clear. Look in the mirror: Can you laugh at the traffic snarls? Smile at elongated counter lines? Wait until later in the day (or week) to make your trips into town? If you do, you’ll probably see fewer facial wrinkles. It really does take fewer muscles to smile than to frown, and when you hit a certain age, those wrinkles are probably related to facial muscle usage.
Coming to Quartzsite? Already here? Want to extend your days? Reduce the need for blood pressure medicine? Prepare yourself – deep breathing exercises pay. Allow plenty of extra time to get to appointments – or better still – don’t make any appointments, at least not during daylight hours. Because at 4:00 p.m. when the post office lowers the flag and locks the counter area door, the traffic gods bless the streets with more pavement than cars.
Take laugh lessons. Load your favorite comedian on your iPad and when things get tough, crank up the volume. Think about getting your mail at Ehrenberg. Yeah, it’s 20 miles away, but sometimes it’s quicker to drive over, get the mail, and drive back. Camping on a Long Term Visitor Area? Dump your tanks or get fresh water late in the day – maybe after sunset.
And remember, it’ll all get better when Kenny rolls up the Big RV Show tent. When February rolls around and the temperatures head back to “T-shirts only,” the big crowds will have gone like fully-fed locusts. It’ll just be you – and the rest of the small number of smart folks.