Sunday, December 27, 2015

Beginners Guide to Quartzsite

Plamosa Road, La Posa North, La Posa West, La Posa South, Tyson Wash, Dome Rock…..Known as the boondocking capital of the world, there are so many areas for good boondocking. So how does a first timer choose which one to stay at? This was the first decision we faced when planning our first winter stayover in the Quartzsite area. Our decision was first influenced by how long we planned on staying. As we planned on staying for at least 30 days, maybe as long as 90, Dome Rock and several others that have a 14 day limit were out. This left the La Posa and Tyson Wash Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA’s) but which one? One must consider how much privacy they want, proximity to fresh water and a dump station, proximity to town or friends……. For us the deciding factor was where some of our friends were going to be staying so we decided on La Posa South.

As this was our first time in the area we did not know the rules, regulations and etiquette. We pulled in and our first site was the check-in station. Although some of the boondocking areas on BLM land in this area are free, the LVTA’s do charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of garbage pickup, sewer dump stations and water. You have two choices when it comes to the fees; $40 for 14 days or $180 for 7 months starting September15th. We chose the latter as we plan on staying for a month or more and it is valid at the other LVTA’s in both Arizona and California.

Fee paid, registration stickers received, we set out to find the perfect site. With hundreds of acres of area to choose from and hundreds of RV’s scattered around we had no idea where to begin. Luckily, friends Steve and Dianne, were already in the area and Steve met us on his 4 wheeler and guided us to several spots he thought we might like. Thanks goodness….. we had no idea where to even start and the etiquette on how far away we should park from other rigs. Although some of the sites were obvious, others were not, but after a bit we were able to distinguish where some likely spots were. In the end we picked a spot about 75 yards from Steve and Dianne’s rig.

We dropped the trailer, parked the jeep and 4 wheeler and set out to mark our territory. No, I don’t mean running from bush to bush marking our spot! Here in Quartzsite people mark their areas with a row of rocks encircling their personal space. Weird I know, but when in Rome……

Stay Away!

This actually accomplished a couple of things; it deters (but does not prevent) people from setting up and driving through your area. For the most part people respect these boundaries but when it starts to get really packed all bets are off.
Sunsets from our rig are awesome!

Territory marked, we needed to learn the lay of the land; where to get gas, where to do laundry, groceries and other specifics one needs to learn when staying in an area for an extended period of time. Luckily, once again Steve and Dianne to the rescue! They took us on a tour of the town and pointed out some specifics. Although prices change regularly, here is where we found the best prices right now. Propane varies anywhere from $1.99 to $2.45/gallon. The best place we found was Fill-R-Up right from Main St. as you are driving south into town on 95 from Parker. I filled a 30#’er for just over $15.00. Even through it is a smaller town, fuel will vary by .30/gallon within a few miles. This week the best price we found was at the Arco on the east side of town ($2.09 unleaded, $2.07 Diesel) Your best bet on groceries is to get them before you get into town or drive to Parker to hit the Safeway or Walmart but if you have to get something in town, Roadrunner is probably your best bet but watch the expiration dates.

If you have a LTVA permit you can dump and fill with water at La Pasa South, if not, you will need to dump and get water at RV Pit Stop just north of Main on 95. Last but not least, if you are going to be down here for a month or more, you may want to get your mail. We have been told horror stories about the Quartzsite Post Office. In fact there is even T-shirts in town that state “I survived the Quartzsite Post Office”. Steve and Dianne have used and recommended a place called Quiet Times which for a nominal fee (usually $1-$2) will let you use their mailing address to receive packages.

Let’s not forget some of the food establishments in town…..Silly Al’s which has a great pizza and Beer Belly’s Adult Day Care is a great place to stop for a burger and a beer. Not only is Quartzsite known for it’s boondocking, but is also known for the 2 month Rock, Gem and Mineral Show starting January 1st and of course the RV Show January 16th-24th. During those times this place gets REALLY interesting....more to come next time on that but here is a little teaser......


These necessities aside, it was time for some fun! So what do you do in the middle of the desert for fun? Well, there is happy hour for one! We got together with Steve and Dianne a few times along with their friends Deb and Ray and fellow RV Dreamers Dale and Ruth.

Happy Hour with Ruth, Dianne Steve and Dale
There are hundreds of miles of jeep and 4 wheeler trails so we took the opportunity to do both. We hit the trails with Steve and Dianne one day where they showed us several abandoned mines, stone cabins and geocaches. I can see us spending a lot of time exploring areas looking for the thousands of geocaches in the area. The history of places like this are very interesting but I think the coolest thing we have seen so far were the mortar/grinding holes formed by the Indians when they ground grain.

Stopping to look for a geocache

Welcome to our home!

A fixer up'er

Dianne and Steve

Remnants of an old mine

Indian mortar holes

All in all it looks like it is going to be a good albeit interesting place to spend the winter!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Quartzsite Arizona!

We want to wish a very Merry Christmas to all our friends and family in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, California, North Dakota, Oregon Florida, Alaska and all of our RV friends scattered across the country. We are enjoying the warm weather in the desert but miss the snow and the company of our friends and family.

We are thinking of all and wish you nothing but the merriest of Christmas’ and a happy new year!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

And the Winner is..........

When we last left you I asked for your votes on three pictures which were taken at Zion during our Thanksgiving visit. One was taken by Shane, one by Forrest and one by me.
#1 Fall foliage on a foggy morning
#2 Mule deer buck with a "butte"iful background
#3....and the winner!
With 9 out of 11 votes the winner is…….Shane! with picture #3. It really does capture the essence of Zion. Forrest (picture #1) and I (picture #2) finished well behind. Thanks for your votes, it created some fun family rivalry.

The days since returning from Zion have been cool with highs in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s. We made the most of it spending as much time with the grandkids as possible. Jessica and I were also able to get out to the pistol range one day. Another day Forrest and I made it out to the desert where we flew the drone and shot pistols and shotguns (no, not at the drone).
Dead-eye Jessica
We were lucky enough to spend the last Christmas with the kids but this year we will be on our own. We decided earlier on that this year we would be further south at Christmas. The fact that we froze up last year pretty much “solidified” that decision. So on the 12th we said goodbye to the kids and while Barb drove the rig, I followed with the Jeep and 4 wheeler on a 5 hour drive south where we spent the night at Virgin River Recreation Area just south of St. George. At $8.00 a night, this is a great spot to stop for the night. The sites don’t have any hookups but they do have clean restrooms and you cannot beat the scenery.
Virgin River Rec. Area.... snow storm in the mountains!

The next day after a short 2 hour drive we pulled into an area the locals call “Poverty Flats” as it is a place where snowbirders come to boondock in the desert and wait out the winter. During the peak of winter there will be several hundred rigs here ranging from $500,000 rigs to $500 rigs. When we pulled in and set up there were probably only 20 rigs in the area so we pretty much had our pick of spots.
"Poverty Flats" wide open and barren

On our way through the town of Overton we noticed several rigs camping at the Overton Wildlife Management Area so after we got set up we went back to check it out. When we pulled in we saw that there was about 10 secluded camping sites, ducks and geese flying over and several groups of duck hunters in the parking lot getting ready to go out hunting. We talked to the ranger who said the camping sites were free, first come first serve and a max limit of 8 days. Ducks and free camping? This place was awesome! Why were we parked in the desert when we could be camping here? We headed back to the flats, hooked everything back up and within 30 minutes we were all set up in the WMA! Bad decision…….what they don’t tell you is that about 200 yards away is a silica sand pit that runs 24 hours a day….trains, trucks, dozers, you name it running all hours of the night and every time one of them backed up…..beep, beep, beep! We managed to get a good night sleep but decided that one night was enough.

Barb and Daisy in an Overton WMA duck blind waiting for some birds to come in!
We walked the WMA for a few hours in the morning, hooked up and headed into the Lake Mead National Park 80 miles south to Boulder Beach Campground. We had stayed here last year and really enjoyed the area and the campground (no hookups) at $10/night but the main reason we stopped by this area was to see our friends Steve and Joan who we had not seen since last spring. We spent several days together; went to a cookie exchange, Jeeped into the backcountry to explore an old mine, hiked, played cards and of course going out to eat. It was great seeing them again and catching up! 
Site #33 in Boulder Beach, Lake Mead in the background

This is an old mine we explored......those support beams look pretty sketchy!

This was a private residence in Boulder NV!
One morning Barb and I took a really cool hike within 5 minutes of our campground. The hike followed a wash up a canyon and eventually got narrower and narrower until it formed a slot canyon with high walls and only about 10-20 wide. Eventually it deadended at a 15' rock wall. But wait.....there is a rope hanging down from the top! Do we turn around and go back or go up?
You go up of course!
A few hundred yards further we encountered some rock scrambling areas and yet another rope climb......

 There was a total of 4 rope climbs, I would definitely recommend gloves if you are going to take this hike. The only wildlife we saw was a tarantula and the remains of a bighorn sheep.....oh and one lizard who was very camera shy!
See the mini arch in the background?
I HATE spiders!
After a few miles we came to an open valley amongst the peaks of the range, we could have kept going but it was time to turn around. If going up the ropes was a challenge I would say that going down was twice as hard. You really had to lean back and "walk" down the ledge.
This one was about 20"

Last one!

Walk'in down
A Lake Mead area visit would not be complete without heading over to Las Vegas to see the nightlife. That is exactly what we did with Steve and Joan on Saturday night. Let me tell you what we saw there is really hard to describe.....from very cool to bizarre. Most of the things I wanted to take pictures of were not "family friendly" If you are in the area, you have to walk Freemont St. at night to see the sights and the awesome light show on the canopy. Notice anything unusual or interesting in one of these two pictures?

It has been 6 months since we have been in the southwest and we saw a couple of SW oddities that we had not seen prior to first coming to this area. For the seasoned RV'er you probably see these things all the time but for those up north, I thought I would share two of these oddities... The first are these numbered signs in depressions along some roadways.
According to this Barb shrunk!

Any idea what they area? This one is actually pretty easy, they are foot indicators in water runoff areas. Flashfloods happen very quickly in this area so the water over the road can easily get 2,3,4 or more feet very quickly. Despite these warnings, people drive into the rushing water anyway.

This next one is a little more challenging....... You will see these fences in Lake Mead National Park, they are about 18 inches high and run for miles.

Give up? They are tortoise fences to keep the rare Desert Tortoise from crossing the roads. They all funnel to bridges or culverts so the turtles can cross under the road if they really want to.

Next up our first long term Quartzsite adventure!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Zion Thanksgiving with a Snow Canyon Kicker......

One of the biggest changes for us in this lifestyle is the lack of routine or the changing of annual traditions we have done for years. Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family, spending time with friends at deer camp and 4th of July celebrations at the lake. These are all things we have done for years and truly miss.
But for every door closed another one opens right? So with this new opportunity we are trying to start new traditions. This was our second Thanksgiving on the road and the second one we have been able to spend with the kids. This year we all traveled 4 hours south of Salt Lake to Watchman Campground in Zion National Park. Although it was a little cold there this year, it is a tradition I hope we can continue each year.

Each of the kids brought their own trailers (the maiden voyage for each) and we were able to set up fairly close to each other. Zion is a packed during this week but the ever-thinking Barb went on line and got our reservation last May.
Recognize this spot? It is the same site we stayed in last year!

After getting set up Barb, Daisy and I went for a long walk. The mule deer were plentiful and the views close to the campground incredible!

I may only have 1 antler but I still have a girlfriend!
The following afternoon Jessica and Shane with Dylan and baby Kendall arrived. (Forrest and Somer had to work on Wednesday and will be arriving tomorrow). We were excited to show them the sights of Zion.

After they got set up we went for a walk around the campground. Kendall was a trooper running around with a stumble/run that made you wonder how a 19 month little girl was able to stay on her feet. Dylan, like most 6 year olds was full of energy and was excited to see the deer. He did not understand why you could not pet and feed the deer like he did back home at the petting zoo. I thought he was going to find out when he got too close to a doe and she pinned her ears back like she was going to smack him on the head with her hoof! He learned more lessons that day like falling off your scooter on the pavement does damage to your palms and knees as well as running full speed through cactus infested brush is not a good idea. Ah, to have the energy of a 6 year old again!

Forrest, Somer and Lily arrived about noon on Thursday. After getting set up it was time to start cooking the turkey! We built a fire outside our rig, tuned the outdoor TV to the football game and had a great afternoon. We were going to deep fry two 12 pound birds as we wanted lots of left overs. This was our first time deep frying a bird, a quick review of google showed numerous opinions on what temperature to do it at. In the end we decided on 3 minutes/pound @350. At this temperature the bird was a little over cooked and the wings were like jerky but the skin was super crispy and was like eating bacon. We quickly dropped the next bird using the same method but at 250 instead of 350. The bird took a little longer and the skin did not crisp up but the entire bird was edible.

The rest of the day was spent doing dishes, watching football while sitting by the fire eating pie with a random hike up the hillside thrown in. Although the temps got down into the 30's we stuck it out until 1/2 time of the Packers/Bears game, watched them unveil Farve's number and called it a night.
Forrest and Somer getting ready to fry the bird
Friday was Somer's birthday and we celebrated that night by grilling some awesome ribeyes and a night by the fire. Over the next couple of days we hiked, visited and walked through town. None of them were as intense as our Angel's Landing hike last year. That is still the best and most intense hike we have done to date. If you have not seen our video from that hike, here is the link. This year we stuck to the "family friendly" hikes. Due to the busy holiday weekend everything was busy. The shuttles were packed, the hiking trails were like conga lines and town was crazy as there was an art festival going on. We only did one organized hike which was the Emerald Springs trail. Touted as an easy 2 mile family friendly hike it led to some hidden springs way and back at the end of a canyon. I think everyone else with kids had the same idea but we had a good time nonetheless.
The canyon walls were incredible!

Now, I love my grandkids but anyone who knows me knows that I am somewhat of a germaphobe. Who knows what form of hazards these little ones are carrying. Runny noses were constant dangers and no tissue needed they just use the palm of their hands. It is going to take several canisters of Clorox wipes and a case of Lysol spray to get the rig sanitized again. I think the cell phone, ipad and TV remotes suffered permanent damage.  
But those were not the scariest moments of the trip, as with any trip with small children you are bound to have a close call or two. It happened one morning as we were just finishing breakfast. Forrest and I were sitting on the couch and I was bouncing baby Kendall on my knee while she was chewing on a piece of waffle. Now, most of you probably already know what happened next, she started chocking right? Wrong, it was much much worse. It was a moment that I relive in my mind over and over again, it was like it happened in slow motion…..she sneezed! The projectile waffle/baby-goo was like a shotgun blast headed straight at Forrest and I. We both dove for cover and I think I was on the other side of the trailer before Kendall hit the ground. When she did hit the ground, she looked over at me confused and fired another round! Luckily the aim of a 1 ½ year old is not that good and I was able to dodge that one as well. It was a close call but thankfully Forrest and I got away unscathed.

She may look sweet and innocent but be afraid, be very afraid.........
 One another hike we found these boxes in the tent only area. We were able to convince the kids that they were "timeout boxes" for kids who misbehaved.
Mean Grandma!
The kids departed Sunday morning so while Barb disinfected the trailer I watched football and worked on the blog.
The next day we drove two hours west to Snow Canyon State Park just outside of St. George. They have a nice campground there but only two sites that would fit our rig and one of them was already taken. Be warned, there is a dip in one of the loops where the back end of a longer rigs is going to do some serious scrapping! We avoided this by driving out the wrong way when no one was looking.

Site #18 was one of two big rig friendly sites
We had heard about this park from our friends Steve & Joan and is known for it's red rock, white rock and lava hills. There is some absolutely beautiful scenery and good hiking. The first hike we went on was called Cinder Cone Trail which leads to one of two volcanic craters in the park. It is described as a difficult hike with steep slopes and loose lava rock. The hike up was not too bad, it was cool and we took several rest stops. On the way down we took "the alternate route"  lesser used trail that went pretty much went straight down. Would not have been a problem if it were not for the "loose lava rock" in the description. We ended up on our butts several times doing controlled (sometimes uncontrolled) slides. One time Barb went down so hard the water bottle in her back pocket exploded!
It was a good water bottle, it lived a good life but it was just no match......

The crater is 600' across and 100' deep
The water bottle survived this incident, next time......not so much
We also went on another hike where there were some pioneer names written on a rock wall with axle grease. Unfortunately someone else feels the need to put modern dates and names on it. There were some really cool formation in this area as well.
The perfect picture frame!

Trees will find the smallest crevice to grow

Pioneer Names on the Rock Wall

Every time you turn around there is such beautiful scenery. Forrest, Shane and I spent a lot of time taking pictures and have each submitted our favorites for your vote. The winner gets bragging rights over the other two so please vote for your favorite of the three pictures below through our comments.
Picture #1

Picture #2
Picture #3

You will notice a new link on the sidebar of our blog (email subscribers have to go to our actual website to see). Like many fulltime RV’er we have become affiliate members with Amazon so if you are an Amazon customer we would really appreciate you using our link for your searching and purchases! One other thing we have been thinking of doing is putting a “Donate Here” link on our blog. A couple of Barb’s friends ask how they could get her a gift card or buy her a cup of coffee (actually it was a Dairy Queen). There is a link we could create to do this but it seems a little self-serving/begging and are struggling with that. So for now, Barb will have to go without her DQ!