We left Quartzsite in the morning, no specific check-out time when boondocking in the desert. We still had plenty of water, plenty of spare room in the waste tanks, a bit low on diesel fuel and almost a 100% battery charge. Lots of folks were leaving the same day.
We headed back east on I10 (our friends from California would call it “The Ten”) to Tonopah where fuel was the cheapest anywhere in that part of Arizona. We took on about 100 gallons that topped up our 194-gallon fuel tank. I start looking for fuel when we have about 100 gallons left. I like to get where we will be parked for a while with a pretty full tank.
Then a bit north and around the northwest corner of the Phoenix area to Lake Pleasant. We were amazed by the number of immense warehouses being built. And what appeared to be an even much bigger computer chip fab plant going up.
Lake Pleasant is a lake created by dams to hold water coming from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project. This is a huge system of aqueducts, underground storage reservoirs, pumps, siphons, dams, and lakes to get water to Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima Counties from Lake Havasu above the Parker Dam on the Colorado River. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Arizona_Project
There are access points where you can drive down to the water. The water level changes up to 60 ft depending on whether they are accumulating water or releasing it.
Our site was on the Desert Tortise loop fairly high above the lake. Water and electric only. The water was quite a ways away, I had to get out my 50 ft hose to reach the connection.
The ramadas (sun covers) in the distance were in a picnic area along that ridge.
There were hot air balloons just to the south.
There are two marinas on the lake, one a county-run marina and the other a private marina.
At the Scorpion Bay marina operated by the county, the only access was by this steep inclined tram. The cars held about 6 people and it was slow. There was a boat launch as well, it was a long steep back down to launch boats, it was 10 lanes wide so at some times it must have been crazy busy.
The other marina, Pleasant Harbor, was the private one. There was a single-lane boat launch, lots of boats, a boat sales office, a water slide, and a floating restaurant where we went for lunch, all accessible by golf cart or walking along the curved floating bridge in the background. There was also an RV park on the hill above the marina level. Pricing close to $90 per night. Yikes!
No inclined tram here, just $10 for parking and a ride down and back on an 8 person golf cart. 5 minutes each way.
Lunch was good, nothing extraordinary but the tab.
There was a big three-chute water slide that was closed for the winter. $10 for one slide. There are other options for a half-hour, hour, half-day, and all day. You had to climb the stairs so I imagine many got worn out before their time was up.
We went to the Visistor’s Center that was on a hill overlooking the dam. There was lots of information about the dam and how it was built. There was an earlier dam that is still there but underwater now. We followed a nature trail past a tortoise enclosure and around to a playground area.
There was an interesting slide that came out of the mouth of a Gila Monster. It had rollers, I had to try it.
Short but fun.
We were only here for a few nights as a filler before we could get into McDowell Mountain Regional Park. It is an interesting park but not one where we would consider for a much longer stay. We are off next to McDowell, we have been there before and it is one of out favorite places in Arizona.
We have been hearing about the giant RV show and gathering of hundreds of thousands of RVs at the tiny town of Quartzsite Arizona on I10 just east of the California Border for many years. There are quite a few RV parks there for those spending the winter or for many who come with an off-road vehicle to drive in the open desert in the area. Getting one of the limited spaces to park your RV is limited to those who make reservations a long time in advance. The urban legend says that 750,000 of every type of RV show up and just park anywhere they want in the desert, mostly south of Quartzsite. It is true. RVs are parked for miles south of town. The count might not be RVs but campers (people).
The focus of this event is anything to do with RVs. The reality is that most of it is just like a giant flea market. Oh sure, there is a very big tent full of RV parts and accessories. And side tents ready to install almost anything you buy. But there were pots and pans for sale, socks and clothing, and lots more to everyone the barkers could get to stop for a second.
Outside the big tent for a few blocks in every direction, there were small shade canopies and bigger tents selling anything from nuts and bolts to shoes to hats to political trash. Susan bought a pair of Bamboo socks from guy from Minnesota. I bought a bag of red licorice from The Licorice Guy. It was really good, didn’t last long. And an eye bolt with a nut for 50¢. He didn’t have any washers. It is mostly the same sellers every year according to those who have been here before. There are some deals to be had but mostly not much different from what you could buy the stuff online. There was one company there that I knew, had 300 amp hr lithium batteries in an 8D size for $1600 each. $70 for shipping. Maybe that doesn’t mean much to someone not thinking about lithium batteries for their RV but it is a very good price for a quality battery. The problem is, that in Quartzsite the sales tax is 10.5% and the online price is $1699 with free shipping. So it was actually cheaper to buy them online, pay MN tax and ship them home and not have to haul them around.
So the big tent was interesting, the endless flea market junk was interesting, we were all done in under 3 hours. Lots of food vendors but we are nothing but an over-priced ice cream cone. There was a Chinese restaurant that was actually in a building that looked like it was there all the time. I was tempted.
We knew that Chris and Elka Lang and Lynn and Marilyn Sickle from Arkansas were there staying at the Quail Hollow RV Park. We went visiting, had supper with them and others they knew,and sat and visited for a while. I had sent Lynn some parts several years ago and they sent us 5 lbs of pecans from their farm. That is a lot of pecans. This time they gave us a big bag of rice also grown on their farm. Rice is their main crop. We have tried it, it is very good rice.
The Foretravel bunch circles the wagons about 8 miles south of town out in the desert like everyone else. Some spend the entire winter there, some a month or more, most a few days to a couple of weeks. This year there were over 40 Foretravels there at different times. We arrived at the end of the show and there were still about 25 Foretravels there.
We were on the left in this photo taken by someone with a drone. I knew almost everyone there from the Foretravel Forum and met everyone that I did not. That does not mean I remember all their names.
Our friends from California, Richard and Betty, were in the middle of the circle and Chuck and Lynda were further down on the left. Hans and Marjet were there a couple down from us on the left and on the right Jeff and Sandy were at the end. Next to them were Tom and Marion who we met in South Dakota a few years ago. Chuck brought several boxes of grapefruit, a variety of oranges, and a few boxes of tangelos. Fresh fruit was great, Thanks, Chuck.
Hans and Marjet’s friends from LA arrived and parked near them. On most evenings there were as many as three propane gas fire pits going with people gathered around at our end of the Foretravels and a big wood burning fire at the other. The next day it was easy to figure who went where.
It was chilly, no one stayed out too late.
One day was Han’s Birthday. We made a carrot cake for all to share and in honor of Han’s entering into a senior level (mid-70s) of geezerdom we presented him with what all older folks need, a crumb-catching bib.
He liked it! He was a good sport. They are pretty nice, truth be told, Susan and I have them too. I used to have a “food shirt”, a t-shirt stained with the memories of meals gone by. This is easier when a messy meal is at hand.
So we went to Quartzsite, saw a bunch of folks we knew, made some new friends, and saw the big tent and the flea market. It was windy and dusty, cold at night, not particularly warm during the day. As far as Bucket List things it got a big ✔️ mark. It is quite likely we will not go again. But as always it was wonderful to see friends from all over.
We arrived on January 1, 2022. Diamond J’s is a place we have been to three times before. When we made our reservations for Arizona, it was primarily to have a chance to see my cousin Sandy and her husband, Claus. Diamond J’s is a popular winter hang out for many Foretravelers. When we made reservations I knew of one couple, Jerry and Nona, who would be there when we were going to be there.
And then Jeff and Sandy from North Carolina and Hans and Marjet from South Carolina signed up. And we heard that Leslie and Rick from Washington were there but would be away when we got there.
And then my Sister and Brother in Law told us that they had made reservations at Diamond J’s which would overlap with ours. They are pretty new to the RV world, they bought a 2014 24 ft Leisure Travel Van with a small slide and a Murphy Bed a year ago. And when we arrived we were surprised to see Kent and Peggy from Oklahoma there in their Foretravel.
While we were there at least 8 Foretravels were at this park and 1 in the park next door.
Our neighbor to the passenger’s side of the coach was an interesting fellow. He and his wife were from Michigan and were towing a nice trailer with a pickup truck. Just a day or so after we got there he had traded his truck in on a much newer F150. No rust. A couple of years ago he was on the last chance list for a heart transplant. His had gotten so bad that he was on a mechanical heart pump powered by an external battery pack. And he had been using this artificial heart for a year and a half. And then they got the call, a heart was ready. He told me they had sort of gotten used to the artificial heart and the thought of the transplant surgery scared them a bit. But it was what they were waiting for. And now here they are enjoying a new chance at a longer life. It was an amazing story from some nice folks.
Our site was just a couple of sites away from Jeff and Sandy who were next to Hans and Marjet. We mostly hung out with this crew, not too far to walk. But we did walk, almost every day around the entire park, sometimes twice, and a tour of the neighboring park as well. On several days we rode our bikes around the park too. It was pretty easy to get in several miles.
We walked several times with Marjet and their two golden doodles, Jazzy and Storm and Sandy and Jeff and their golden retriever, Greta. Greta is getting along in dog years and gets lots of special attention.
I don’t have a picture of them walking with Greta but here are Greta and her son, Buddy, when they visited us in Hastings. Buddy passed away a while back so it is up to Greta to carry on.
Storm is a bit bigger than Jazzy and is her son. He likes to nap.
Jazzy is smaller and always looking for a lap. If it looks like a lap she hops right up. She is almost 30 pounds and has the lap sitting and just sort of collapsing into you thing down pat.
Almost every night there was a firepit going somewhere. In the firelight, Marjet got both Storm and Jazzy to climb aboard.
Sunsets at Diamond J’s can be pretty spectacular when the clouds are right.
As well as the full moon rising over the mountains to the east.
Judy and Bruce (sister and brother in law) came for dinner one evening. We brought walleye from home just for this dinner to share.
One afternoon Susan and I mixed up meatloaf and baked it on the grill. It works well doing it that way. We have done corn bread and pizzas too. Judy and Bruce came over to share the meatloaf dinner shortly after they arrived. And before we left we had a frozen lasagne that they bought somewhere. We went over to their Leisure Travel Van for dinner one day. We all fit in but it was tight quarters.
We also went with Judy and Bruce to a restaurant on the far side of Tucson, maybe 45 minutes away for a birthday dinner, mine. The dinner was very good. A person came to our table and made salsa from scratch. It had lots of flavor. Then she made us a batch of guacamole. Avocados, tomatoes, a bit of garlic, and juice from a lime. It had a very bright taste. Judy and I had a great green chili stew, Bruce had a boiling pot of molé and seafood. Susan had a chicken quesadilla. We all left full and with a takeaway box.
While we were at Diamond J’s, I helped Hans hook up a new DirecTV satellite dish that they bought while in Tucson. It didn’t work at first, I had a long coax cable that we used to connect directly from the dish to the TV. That worked. So then the issue had to be in their coach’s inside coax wiring. Hans checked it all out and figured it was one of the cable ends. He replaced it and then the new dish connected through his wiring worked.
Bruce and Judy had the same problem. We tried connecting their roof top dish to their box and then to the TV. The box to TV connection worked but not the dish to the box. I tried connecting the dish to the box directly with my long coax cable, it still didn’t work. There wasn’t anything else to try so I gave up after several hours of trying.
Their small, pedestal-mounted table was pretty wobbly. I added 4 more pop rivets to secure the plastic pedestal end to the aluminum post. It was much more secure than it was with just 2 rivets. I also added one wrap of clear packing tape around the top of the pedestal tube to make it fit tighter into the plastic part on the bottom of the table. When the changes were all done the table was much more stable.
The last time we were at Diamond J’s, Susan and I went to the Titan Missile Museum. None of the others we hung out with had been there so we made arrangements for 6 of us to go again. Susan and Judy went to the Sonoran Desert Museum and Marjet and Sandy were planning a shopping expedition. You can look back to our blogs from March of 2019 https://home2rv.com/2019/03/ for more on our first visit.
The tour of the missile site included a stop in the launch control room. Hans (blue shirt) volunteered to be part of the launch crew. Hand on the key, 3, 2, 1, and turn. After 58 seconds of lights coming on, systems getting checked, and alarms going off, the missile was launched.
But not really, just a simulation. It was an interesting visit, something most never see nor knew about back in the 1960s until the missiles were retired as part of an arms reduction treaty with Russia. There were 54 of these single missile silos. Each missile carried a 9 megaton nuclear warhead. How big is that? Much more than all of the bombs dropped during World War II by all sides.
After the museum tour, we drove to Tubac, about 20 miles further south. It was a small town with lots of local artists that is quickly expanding to be a tourist destination with much more than local artists. I explored a nice kitchen and food store, bought a package of molé spices and a jar of spicy chili bacon jam. Then we all met at a small deli for lunch and a bunch of Foretravel talk.
One afternoon we taught Han and Marjet how to play Quiddler, we played at a table in a screen room tent they had set up. They were quick learners and good competition.
On another evening we had dinner in the screen room with Hans and Marjet and Jeff and Sandy. It was fun. We liked the screen room so we ordered one. The directions say it takes 45 seconds to set up. Not the first time, it seemed complicated. But the next time it was much easier. It will still take some practice to get to 45 seconds
The Fishhook cactus and the prickly pear cactus were starting to bloom. Bright yellow flowers for both.
Three weeks went by quickly, it was time to head to Quartzite, 4 hours further to the west, almost to California.