Actually I made it to the desert three days ago. First night near Quartzsite, second The Slabs and now I’m ready to explore Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. But first a day of relaxation and just being in the desert.
Trials and tribulations leaving Yarnell
After Wednesday night camping in my driveway I loaded a few final things and went to fill the fresh water tank. Hose wouldn’t quite reach so moved the truck but due to the recent rains our typically hard ground had turned to slippery mud. As the truck skidded around one side of the camper kissed a front corner of the 5th-wheel. No damage but it did take a while to get out of the mud and I began to wonder if I’d be stuck here all winter.
I took two unexpected cold showers that morning. First filling the fresh water tank with no one manning the spigot and trying to crimp a cold stiff hose. Then I went inside to make sure of no leaks, turned on the water pump and the cold water at the kitchen sink. Yes, water! When I turned it off I ended up with the handle in my hand and a fountain until I turned off the pump. I laughed while wiping down the walls and ceiling because what else could I do. And with broken part in hand left Yarnell about 2pm.
I forgot a pan in the fridge with mashed potatoes so hope Berta will go take care of that for me, please. She might be more enticed when I tell her I also left a slice of Tiramisu cake, now that I’ll miss.
Eagle Eye Peak of Agila (Eagle) Do you see it?
Familiar drive to Quartzsite
Once dropping off the Yarnell Hill I’m in the desert, a stunning landscape with an occasional saguaro and sun rays playing hide and seek with the clouds. Fuel up in Congress at $2.99/gal for diesel. I like that price. State Route 60 takes me past farm land, the mostly empty buildings of Agila, sleepy little Wenden, and Salome “where she danced”. Itty bitty Harcuvar now has a KOA as well as the old Desert Gem RV park. Vicksburg Junction is one of those round-a-bouts, Brenda’s Black Rock and Desert Gold RV parks looking pretty full of snowbirds already. The clouds are breaking and it’s 61F by 3pm.
Within a mile of Quartzsite’s first ramp south of the highway there’s scattered RVs boondocking in the desert. The town is only slightly busy instead of insanely busy, a few vendors set up and some of them even open. KB Supplies at Tyson Wells is open so I can pick some things up there the next day. I headed south on SR95 a few miles to BLM short-term La Posa, where you can camp up to 14-days free. Two people stopped me to say my right brake light was out. Something else to add to the list. Quiet and dark with a few RVs scattered around and a spectacular sunset complete with saguaros.
“Run around Sue”
10:15am and 56F. Heading into Quartzsite for some parts and pieces. Coming into town with a line up of cars like a city traffic jam. I think I’m beginning to enter ‘Slo-mo’. Pulled out of camp this morning just moseying at 40. Oops, it’s a 65/mph highway. I saw a hawk this morning which always makes me smile.
Kenny at KB very helpful and chatty. He’s from Idaho and likes the idea of forest camping at the North Rim. Bought four of those plastic lego-like levelers to use instead of heavy boards and a 7/8 wrench for propane tanks. Took the lens cover off to get bulb numbers and although I changed out a dull one didn’t help until I scrubbed off some corrosion on the ground connection. Another walk across the street to KB for the wire brush. They didn’t have the faucet part I need and recommended RV Lifestyles at the other end of town. They had a few more choices but not the one I need and sent me to Herbs Hardware. At least everybody knows what’s around town. Herbs had yet a larger selection but still not the one I need so they recommended Ace in Blyth having a large selection.
I finally left Quartzsite at 2:30p. Past Dome Rock Road which I think is another boondock site but don’t know if it’s long-term or not. A northwest wind buffets me around a little bit. Lots of truck traffic on I10. Crossing the not so mighty Colorado River and welcome to California with an Agriculture Inspection Station where I was waved right through. The Huge Ace Hardware in Blythe didn’t have the part either and they sent me down the road to Valley Palms RV but no luck. I may end up replacing the whole faucet but don’t relish the idea of crawling into the cupboard below the sink to get to it. I did gain an hour entering California’s Pacific time and good thing with all the time I wasted trying to find this part.
Back on the road to…
State Route 78 between Blyth and Brawley follows the squares of farm fields, first a right, then a left, now another right. I saw cotton and alfalfa, huge round bundles of the first covered with tarps and stacked bales of hay. By 2:30pm, again, I knew I wouldn’t get to Anza Borrego until after dark and be in an unknown situation so I headed for the closer and familiar Niland along roller-coaster roads lined with golden Tamarisk then an occasional Palo Verde tree but mostly creosote bush and rock. Sadly the banks along the roadside glitter with broken glass.
I’d hoped to stop at the Imperial Sand Dunes for some photos but there’s just no place to pull over and the crazy crowds of RV toyhaulers and trailers full of toys hell bent on tearing up the dunes doesn’t appeal to me. I see a sharp contrast between the north natural side of the dunes and the south side covered with ORV tracks everywhere. Glad some of it is spared.
As I continue west the haze increases and I don’t know if it’s clouds or Los Angeles pollution, or both. Feels about an hour later than it is because the sun’s so low. Damn daylight savings. The air stinks as I pass stock yards full of cattle crammed into small areas standing in their own slop. It’s enough to make me a vegetarian, almost.
17 years ago I found the Slabs via some ladies in the bathroom while camping at Salton Sea State Park. Anybody who’s boondocked in the American Southwest has probably heard of The Slabs, an unusual place in a vast desert. A home for the homeless and boondocking RVers with multi-million dollar motor homes parked near palm leaf palapas with solar panels, rusted buss frames and halfway put together illegal buildings. Sites marked occupied outlined with rusty cans, rocks or tires where a small community has arisen. Lots of no trespassing signs which is a joke as this is public land but they’ve made it their own. All kinds of little compounds. But it’s free parking under the big skies unless pollution from LA is blowing in. There are some really unusual set ups here. And of course Salvation Mountain, one man’s dream. The sad part is all the trash laying around.
I drive past the worst of it and find a place to park for the night. But now I have another problem as I see water dripping from the back of the camper near the outside spigot but not from it. So I drain the tank filling every available container I have of this precious water. Guess I’m back to juggin’ it for a while, not for the first time.
Saturday morning I stop at the Niland flea market, mostly for nostalgic reasons as I used to sell there many years ago. Then off to Brawley for water, back up ice cream and topped off at a ridiculous $3.49/gal. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park here I come.
From Salton City turned off onto S22, a lumpy, bumpy, bouncy road that thank goodness smoothed out for most of the 30 mile drive to the park’s visitor center. At first glance it’s just brown erosion, but in the canyons and mountains there are greens and oranges mixed with the shades of brown. Ocotillos rise like fountains, their marvelous twisted wood showing rows of shell-shaped leaves that appear briefly only after rain. Picked up a map and information about the many places to camp for free and at 3:30p parked off Rockhouse Road where I have a signal and big view. With 634,000 acres to explore I could be here for a while. Other RVs are in sight but not close, respecting each others privacy.
Sunday being the Winter Solstice I just hung out for the day. But I did have company and finally got to meet bloggers Lynda and Howard who brought me oranges from Bakersfield, and Nina stopped by. None of them are parked too far away. Reading the park brochure I anticipate some hiking and sightseeing. Mostly I just enjoyed a lazy afternoon with intermittent bright warming sun. I even took one layer off for a while and listened to the wind. I’m warmer at 50F nights and Monday it may go to 80F. I am a happy camper in the desert.
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