After staying indoors for over a week, we finally went out to see some local sights. Both of us had an eleven day bout with a terrible flu / respiratory illness. Cheryl's episode started back at Quartzsite and Ed's started the day we drove to Cottonwood. It was great getting outdoors to soak up some of Arizona's beautiful sunshine. Though it's been in the 70's at times, it's been pretty cold some days. We're at about 3,000 feet and sometimes you can see a dusting of snow on the cliff tops around us. It looks like they've been sprinkled with powdered sugar. See our Field Trip page for links to some very impressive Indian ruins.
Sedona is a beautiful spot nestled amongst red rock mountains. The local building codes require all new buildings to blend in with the colors of the local area, so even the McDonalds is in a red adobe colored building with a teal colored arch on the side. Sedona is one of our favorite places and we would recommend it to anyone wanting to visit the southwest.
We left Las Vegas on a beautiful, sunny day and headed for Hoover Dam and the Arizona border. To enter the state you must first cross the dam which is only two narrow lanes. You have Lake Mead on one side of you and hundreds of feet of air on the other. It is quite spectacular.
We were about twenty miles into Arizona when a fan belt in the truck broke and managed to take out three other belts along with it. Ed opened the hood and reported that "it looks like a bunch of snakes" were in there. We limped into Kingman Arizona, using just one spare belt that we had. We ended up staying in Kingman for two nights while Ed located belts and replaced a wobbly pulley on the power-steering pump.
Finally, on to Quartzsite! This was one of Cheryl's goals before our trip started. We had heard of this annual mass-gathering of full-time RV'ers and we were anxious to meet other people that live like we do. We had directions to a spot where a group of "Escapee Boomers" were camping and we planned to stay with them. The Escapees is a group, or club, of full-time RV'ers that we belong to. There are about 50,000 members and several smaller spin-off groups referred to as birds-of-a-feather. We belong to the "The Boomers", (i.e baby-boomers), which are full-time RV'ers who were born in the 40's and 50's. Though we belong to the group, we didn't know anyone because we had never been to one of their rallies before.
We arrived in Quartzsite on Tuesday. It was getting late and near dark. Although we were headed into the desert to find a place we had never been, it was nice to have instructions to a site that had been picked out by some of the "Boomers". It felt like we were headed somewhere. We drove down a long dirt road into the desert passing hundreds and hundreds of RVs. Finally we turned off the road, went over a few dips and ruts and then into a clearing where 30 or 40 RVs were parked. Everyone was waving hello and several people came over to welcome us and point out the general lay of the land.
There was really no organization to this group. One couple had posted a large piece of butcher paper on the side of their trailer with a two week schedule broken into days and times. Others could then post an activity they wanted to host and others could sign up. Some example are, full moon / night walk in the desert, 4-wheel drive expedition, Superbowl Game pot luck, card games, etc. There was also a daily gathering in the center of the area at 4:00 (i.e. happy hour), and typically several folks would gather around the central campfire about 8:00 each night.
Several of the people we met had attended this annual gathering for several years. The majority of these people were not only full time RVers but are also full-time "boondockers". Boondocking is RVing without hooking up to electric power, water and sewer. Since our trailer is setup to go only three to four days before the batteries run low, we had an opportunity to learn a lot about power inverters, solar panels. Most of the time we simply had our generator going to keep the batteries up. The noise of our generator must have been irritating to all of the solar equipped RVers. It was impressive to see some of their set-ups. They can live comfortably in the middle of nowhere for extended periods of time.
Quartzsite Arizona is a very small town. There are two truck stops, one McDonalds and a handful of local businesses. The town has three intersections with four-way blinking red lights. Now, imagine for four weeks each year, this town is occupied by eight to ten thousand RVs. There are four or five main flea market areas. All together there must be two thousand booths. As we understand it, this all got started as a gem and rock hound show and trading session. Without a doubt we saw many beautiful gems, rocks, petrified wood pieces, fossils, etc. It looks like it grew by attracting people that have specialized RV equipment and supplies to sell, so now it's about 50-50 rocks and RV equipment.
Our "Boomer" friends said that when it comes to RV electrical equipment, that Trace inverters are the best way to go. An inverter changes the 12 volt battery power into regular house power to run the microwave, TV, hair drier, computers, etc. Sounded like something we should buy so we stopped by a booth to talk to the Trace Inc. salesman. Turns out he was a service technician from our home town. The company is based next to the Arlington Washington airport, and this guy drew the lucky straw to come to Arizona for two weeks. He was certainly enjoying the sun and warm weather.
We took several pictures to put on the web, but they accidentally were recorded over with cactus pictures that the boys are going to put on there journals.
While we've been here we've bowled at the largest bowling alley in the world - the 106 lane bowling alley at the Showboat Hotel. This is the bowling alley that is often shown on TV for championship competitions.
We went on an awesome tour of Hoover Dam and learned about it's history and functions.
We went hiking and "rock scrambling" on the red rocks in Red Rock Canyon, about 20 miles outside of Las Vegas.
We toured Jet-Puff marshmallow factory and learned how marshmallows are made; (did you know that they inject air into them?) We also toured the Ocean Spray juice factory where they crank out 600 bottles of juice an hour on a very, very fast conveyor belt. And finally, Ethel-M's, (the "M" stands for Mars) chocolate factory. We were surprised to see that these expensive chocolates ($26.00 per pound) are almost completely made and packed by hand.
We went to a magic act at the Boardwalk Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip and Mitch was actually "levitated" during the act. Just like on TV, he was laid on a skinny table and was raised up about three feet in the air. The magician did the hula-hoop thing all around his body. The only problem was that Mitch didn't get to see it.
We've visited the Guinness World-Book-of-Records museum which turned out to be not as interesting as it sounds. We celebrated Mitch's tenth birthday at the Circus-Circus indoor amusement park and rode on the world's largest indoor roller coaster. The double loops and corkscrew turns made it Max's favorite ride. We went to the five block long Fremont Street light show in downtown's "Glitter Gulch", and ate some obnoxiously large banana splits at Sam's Town Hotel and Casino.
After all of this, we're ready to get out of town and experience a place with no bright lights and 300' long buffet lines -- we're headed for the Arizona desert! We'll be camping in a place called "Quartzsite" on Bureau of Land Management land along with, (from what we've heard), thousands of other RV'ers for the world's largest flea market and rock-hound show. We'll report on this later.
Now, for the picture of the day. Some of the RV parks where we stay have only one regular phone connection for internet use. It's usually located in their activity center. We've gotten to know a lot of nice people during our repeated visits to use the telephone hook-up. Here's a picture of five of us taking turns loading e-mail then typing our responses and reconnecting to send.
After our visit to Quartzsite Arizona, our plan is to head towards Sedona
Arizona, which is near the Grand Canyon. It may be a week or so before
we can update our website as we'll have no electrical hook-ups or phone
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