January 18, 2016
The first major stop on my trip was Quartzsite, Arizona, the town in Arizona’s southwest desert of about 3500 people that mushrooms into almost a million in the winter.
Three phenomena happen to encourage such a wild jump in population. First, in the winter, it’s warm! Snowbirds from all over the US and Canada head south for the winter. Second, although there are probably almost 100 RV parks in Quartzsite, there are also vast BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands. Anyone can camp free for up to 14 days in one spot before moving to another spot, or up to six months for a nominal fee in one of the several Long Term Visitor Areas. Lastly, there’s the HUGE RV show the last two weeks of January every year. Every imaginable RV club or specialized RV group, even a great number of RV bloggers plan a get together for those two weeks; hundreds of vendors selling everything appealing to the traveling lifestyle are available to “encourage” you to purchase their product. It’s quite a production.
My drive from Holbrook, Arizona was slower than I thought, and so, with the early sunset, I broke my first cardinal rule: Never Arrive After Dark. But I was at the point of no return, and I was SOOO close. So I ventured on. I had the GPS coordinates, so no problem.
It’s funny that I never noticed how quickly evening moves from dusk to darkness.. It went from dusk to total darkness very quickly. The voice of my GPS program, CoPilot Maps commanded that I exit at Gold Nugget Road, so I exited, even though I was aware that the name of the exit didn’t sound quite like the one I vaguely remembered. I knew that I would be traversing dirt/gravel roads, so I didn’t let that phase me. I continued, over hill and down dale, around curves to the right and curves to the left, throwing up HUGE amounts of dust behind me. Did I say that it was very dark? I kept switching between high beam and low beam, but there was so much dust reflecting the lights, that neither one was extremely helpful. Finally another confident command, “Turn right at the next intersection.” INTERSECTION!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? “Small fork in the road” would be an exaggeration. As I approached the turn off, I saw a sign that said, “Danger! Unmaintained Road. Use extreme caution! Enter at your own risk.” Alrighty then….Now I may be adventuresome, and I already had made a stupid decision to travel after dark, but I am not that stupid! No way was I going to take my lumbering 35′ RV down that road!
You may not be aware that you cannot successfully back-up an RV when you are driving a 35′ motorhome and towing a vehicle behind you. “Time to assess the situation” I said to myself. So, flashlight in hand I hopped out to look for a wide spot in the road where I could unhook the car, and try several small backing and turning moves to turn the RV around. Amazingly, just a bit down the road was a huge wide flat area just off to the left of the road. “Ah, I’m not the only dumb fool that’s been in this predicament before,” I muttered to myself. No need to take the car off at all. Funny how, even in adverse circumstances, when a moment of better luck falls in your lap, you are buoyed up as if you just won the lottery! “Hot Damn! I’m out of here!”
Before I got back on Interstate 8, I pulled out all my printed documents to review the instructions. I had exited at Exit 20, following the advice of my GPS program, when the written directions said to use Exit 19, one exit further west. I committed the directions to memory (what an old fashioned concept!) instead of trusting that durned GPS, and soon I was bouncing down another very bumpy small dirt road. Ah! A sign and an arrow: “Boomerville” (arrow pointing right). The group I was to camp with for the next two weeks calls themselves the Boomers. They are a sub-group of the Escapees RV club. More over hill and down dale, around curves to the right and curves to the left, throwing up HUGE amounts of dust behind me, ensued. It seemed like I was driving for a half-hour, but it actually was just a mile or two, because I was driving about 10 miles an hour. I noticed a group of RV’s with their inside lights on, camped off to the right. Knowing I was the only one out there in the middle of the night with my RV, I came to a stop in the middle of the road and hiked over and knocked on a door. “Hi, I’m Little Red Riding Hood and I’m looking for my Grandmother’s house” was what I contemplated saying when the door opened. Silly woman, this is no time to act senile! Instead I simply asked if they were the Boomers group. No, but they were up the road a bit. “Just keep going. You’ll see it”
Back to driving on the dirt road for what seemed like a very long time (actually it was just a minute or two) I see someone with a backback walking down the road. That’s strange, I thought. Was he an hallucination? But, letting nothing stop me, I slowed down, opened the window and asked if he knew where the Boomers were camped. “You’ll almost there. Just keep going. You’ll see it.” I’ve heard that before…. “There’s a sign on the right just after a curve.” Wow—a sign! Amazing!
Sure enough, around the curve and there was a Boomerville! sign in an orange 5 gallon bucket. I turned in and then, what to my wondering eyes did I see, but a camp full of RVs, all in a row (sort of).
Whew! I made it!
To be continued!