Currently: Gila Bend AZ 52 degrees F and sunny morning
We are traveling east on I-8, between Gila Bend and Tucson, Arizona. The interstate on this stretch is butter smooth, smooth enough that I can type away on the laptop while Mo cruises down the road. Gotta love that. So few stretches of Interstate in California are like this, and Oregon isn’t much better. Does Arizona have a lot more money for road taxes? Just wondering what the difference is between states that have great highways and those that don’t, especially when they are nationally funded roads, at least I think the interstates are nationally funded. Who knows anymore how anything gets paid for anyway.
We pulled out of Desert Hot Springs yesterday right around 9am as planned, filled up at Costco at LaQuinta for just 3.37 per gallon. Looking forward to cheaper fuel as we continue east, with Tucson prices now hovering around the $3. mark for regular. We are not a diesel rig, obviously.
Last night turned out to be a surprise. Originally I planned for a night at the Military Family Camp at Gila Bend, but with recent renovations, there weren’t even any hookups available. Why pay to boondock in a gravel parking lot with no amenities? So we then thought we might push hard to get all the way to Tucson, just 388 miles or so, and we can do that if we want to.
But then, not long after we left the Coachella Valley, the signs for Quartzite started showing up, and Mo said, “Maybe we could take a little break.” Is there an RVr out there who doesn’t know about Quartzite? I read somewhere that 20 percent of all registered RV vehicles in the United States can be in the area at one time. Not to mention the Canadians. Boondocking there is a fine tuned art, and we passed the Dome Rock exit where RV Sue hung out a bit back, and saw the folks who like a bit of space between their rig and the next one scattered across the desert below the rocky hills.
As we got closer to town, the long term and short term BLM parking areas were visible with their more closely spaced rigs, and then in town I was quite surprised at all the “real” RV parks with hookups that were lining the highway adjacent to the freeway. I first camped in Quartzite in a tent back in 1988, selling my flowers at a booth at the Tyson Wells Show for ten days. I mostly remember the wind and the dust. Mo and I parked in La Posa one year for an overnight, but in spite of the nice invitations from fellow rvrs, we have declined returning.
Except for the tools. Mo wanted to walk around a bit and look for little tooly things, and there is certainly no better place to do that. Things are still fairly quiet, and we parked the rig easily at the Pilot station in town for our walkabout. Somehow this photo of baseball caps reminds me of all things Quartzite. Kinda crazy I guess.
However, there was a new addition since I was here last, a giant box store called the Gem Store. It was HUGE, and I walked inside and was completely overwhelmed. Filled wall to wall with all the “stuff” that is sold at little gift shops all over the country for very high prices, the store seemed to cater most to wholesale buyers. Still, there were rows and rows of beads and jewelry findings, boxes and bags for packaging jewelry, and it was filled with people with little heavy metal carts lined up at the registers spending a LOT of money.
I couldn’t resist, and called daughter Deborah, who likes to do beadwork. I bought a bunch of 1 pound bags of seed beads for $4 bucks each for her. Birthday girl coming up soon and this was a perfect shopping moment. Yes, Deborah reads the blog, and yes, she already knows I got the beads for her. There were so many choices I had no clue what to get without asking her.
By the time we left town it was already 3:30 in the afternoon. How the heck did that happen?? UhOh. Time change in Arizona, and we completely forgot about that . Gila Bend was already looking better than Tucson for our night. But then, what about all that great BLM land around us? We didn’t want to stay too close to Quartzite, but as we turned south on highway 85 toward Gila Bend, it seems there was a lot of flat cropland and no sign of BLM land. I looked up boondocking in the area and most of the information led us back west from Gila Bend, and we didn’t want to do that.
Surprise! Just 8 miles south of I-10, on Highway 85 is the expansive Maricopa County regional park called Buckeye Hills. There is a shooting range and a sheriff training facility near the entrance and on google maps the main road just seems to wander around the hills toward nothing in particular. I found the park website which said something about no hookups and pit toilets, but we couldn’t find any evidence of a campground. It is possible that the official campground is further up the road in the park.
Instead, less than 1/2 mile in, adjacent to the wide graded gravel road, we found several large sites, obviously used for camping. No signs had said anything about camping restrictions, so all alone there in the desert we pulled off and set up camp. The timing was perfect, just at sunset, which came a little bit later in this part of the time zone.
Mo built a fire from some nice hard firewood that we found near our Joshua Tree boondock site. Nice to a chance to use it, since it was taking a bunch of space in the Tracker!. The park police never showed up to run us off or say anything about the fire. In fact, no one ever showed up except for 3 cars that passed us on the road during the evening. Who knows where they were going. The night was dark and beautiful, and we had a nice supper, watched the fire, played some cards before retreating to bed with the windows wide open to the stars.
I know there are a lot of folks who boondock in the middle of nowhere, and I have no idea if they worry about security. But there was that little nagging thing in the back of my mind that felt a bit vulnerable out there. What IF someone decided to harass us. We have some protection, but still it isn’t exactly fun to have to deal with it.
One of the main reasons we prefer a motorhome to a fifth wheel is about security. I asked Mo if she would indulge my niggling little bit of fear and I pulled in the slide and put the key in the ignition. That way if anyone did hassle us, with the car hooke dup ready to go, the slide in and the key ready, we wouldn’t have to fumble around in the dark trying to get out of there. It would just be a matter of jumping in the drivers seat and driving off.
The night was completely quiet and completely beautiful, and of course my fears were probably silly. Still, I did sleep better knowing that I had paid a bit of attention to the possibility and was prepared to handle it.
I haven’t looked at the internet this morning, so don’t really know how the predicted severe cold weather is affecting the rest of the country. Here the sun is so bright I am having trouble seeing the screen and the temperatures are steadily rising.
This afternoon we will find a way to watch the 49rs game and I will do laundry at the very nice FamCamp facility. There are no reservations taken at Davis Monthan AFB FamCamp, but there is a system of waiting in line for a space after spending time in the overflow no-hookup areas. Won’t know till we get there if we will get a site or not, but we are ready either way.