As we write this, it’s 86 outside in the afternoon sunshine. Inside, a wee bit warmer—94. Next week we’ll be pushing 100. We rue turning on the air conditioner, and the swamp cooler is still on its winter hiatus. This is the transitional period for Quartzsite as the off-season creeps in. It’s a stealthy kind of thing—the nights are comfortable, the days take turns being cool one day, then pretty warm on others. Eventually the season won’t play games. The swampy will run day and night until we give it up and head north for a few weeks of respite.
Proverbial desert town
At the end of the Big Show in January, streams of RVs blasted out of town. Some headed north, others east or west, but a huge outflow of RVers left town. That left the “shoulder season” folks. The BLM rangers turned a seeming blind eye to the “14-day limit” on the Short Term areas. We’ve seen some of the same rigs for far longer than two weeks. But by Tax Day, Quartzsite will look like the proverbial desert town. One or two serious die-hards will bake in the hundred-and-teens at the High Jolly Short Term Area. We’ll scratch our heads and wonder how they do it.
In just a few weeks, something wonderful happens that mostly locals behold. The saguaro cactus bloom will bust out. First little green knobs will appear in clusters on the cactus arms and tops. Then, the breakout that marks the start of the off-season shows: Brilliant white and yellow blooms will light up those green giants. No, they don’t really “open at night and wither in the morning.” Saguaro blooms are pretty hardy—some may last a couple of days, perhaps even longer. They’ll give us an eyeful, and the bee population will have plenty to do pollinating them.
The rattlers are back
Between now and then, the rattlesnakes will begin their peevish reappearance. When they first come back from their winter nap, they can be a bit snappish. Some of us humans are the same way while waiting for that first bite of breakfast. The local firefighters will make rounds with a “snake stick” and a five gallon pail, responding to calls from anxious locals. The “new guy” will operate the bucket lid, while his instructor will snag the reluctant reptiles by the neck and shove them in the bucket. Rumor has it that in the old days, the fire crews would drop them off near town hall. “Snakes and politicians are a good mix,” some wag would say. These days the snakes get a ride farther out in the non-occupied areas of the desert.
Watch paint dry?
What else happens in the off-season? Folks would joke about watching paint dry. In Quartzsite, that’s no fun. The paint’s practically dry as it comes off the brush. You could go down to the post office and jaw with Rueben behind the counter. There are plenty of hours when there’s practically nobody there—a far cry from the “wind around the box lobby” lines of December.
Want grub? Much success! Fast food is a major choice, as most of the sit-down joints close up. Off-season in Quartzsite doesn’t offer much in the way of crowds. Yes, you could practically hurl a fast ball down the B-10 and not hit anything at two in the afternoon. Save for a lot of dust devils. These characters roll off the desert floor and into town, raising Cain with anything not tied down, and a few things that are. We came back last September to find winds (or dust devils) had casually removed our carport and patio roof tarps.
You’re not forgotten
But don’t think snowbirds are forgotten. Somewhere, some vendor is sitting at his desk with a calculator, mulling over last season’s sales. What will he need this year? The folks down at the truck stops will think of you and chuckle. If only you were here now, and wanted to buy a cold shower. NOT! Off-season means turning off your water heater and using it for a “warm water reservoir.” Tap water on the “cold” side is too hot to shower in by evening. Early mornings are the only time to somewhat safely wash the dust off.
Come August, the watch begins. Who’ll be the first of the northerners to return after the off-season? Who’ll brave the hot September days and nights to be able to claim the choicest spots in the LTVAs? We’ll find out in a few months. We’ll let you know when we restart the Quartzsite Report. Meanwhile, stay safe and enjoy the road.
The weekly statistics
Half of our Quartzsite team was hospitalized between our two time periods. Our apologies to you (and the nursing staff!). So the comparisons aren’t spread out by a week, but by three weeks.
How many folks in Quartzsite? It’s impossible to accurately gauge. We’re using the census count from the Hi Jolly Short Term Visitor Area as a gauge.
|February 25||This Week||Change|
Fuel Costs (Average)
|February 25||This Week||Change|
|Gasoline (Regular)||3.653||4.646||27.2% increase
Best price, $3.56 Chevron (Main St. and Riggles Rd.)
Best price, $5.15 Mobile
Best price, 76 and Mobil—$2.95. Worst, Love’s— $4.60
Note: Motor fuel costs are based on credit card purchase price.
|February 25||This week|
|Verizon Mobile||2.09D/.072U 3:45 PM
1.05D/0.72U 9:59 PM
|7.5D/0.92U 1:29 PM
3.70D/0.65U 8:39 PM
|ATT Mobile||8.37D/10.32U 3:45 PM
1.89D/2.32U 9:59 PM
|30.4D/17.3U 1:30 PM
4.31D/8.00U 8:40 PM
Note, tested speeds are on 4G networks.
We’ve discontinued our health statistics. Should COVID (or some other dastardly bug) rear its nasty little head, we’ll resume our counts next season.
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