112. On the Way to the Rio Grand Valley (or Happy New Years Eve Day)

A very productive travel day! On the road by 8 am which is daybreak that far west in the Mountain Time Zone. Headed south on Hwy 95 to Quartzsite and then east on I 10. The drive up until near Phoenix was thru the Mohave Desert. That means arid, colorless and rather boring.

I was interested in seeing Quartzsite. It’s a crossroads in the desert with a very small eclectic town of about 3,000 people centered around RVs. The vast desert area is managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is open for off road dry camping for 14 days at a time. There are also BLM areas that are designated LTVA 9long term visitor areas) where you can get a camping permit from the BLM for either $10 or $20 which is good for up to 6 mo of camping. You need to be self sufficient as there is no power, water or sewer.

Though COVID19 has negatively impacted the area, there were still campers in every direction as far as the eye could see. I’d never been thru that area before so I thought it fascinating. In a typical winter, thousands of RVs park in every direction, some seeking isolation of miles between rigs while others ‘circling the wagons’ in impromptu social ‘towns’. In Jan and Feb there are normally 9 major gem shows and 15 swap meets drawing 1.5 million people. So many RVrs in one place that there is annually the world’s largest RV show held in the desert. Probably every camper, tent, RV manufacturer is there. Major solar suppliers and installers set up shop. Same for awning mfrs, RV equipment mfrs, portable RV weigh stations, wheel alignment, food trucks etc etc etc. The vendors sponsor entertainment venues. Water and sewer pumpout vendors set up weekly routes to service those RVers who don’t want to pack up and drive into town for free or cheaper water and dumping. Quartzsite as an event is a HUGE deal, not one I would actually go to (too many people) but it was interesting to see.

Heading east on I10 reminded me of why I dislike interstates and use them only when I really want to go from point A to B in the shortest time. You see interesting things that flash by in 10 seconds with zero places to park, explore and take pics.

Islands in the desert – a mountain, not really part of a range, surrounded by desert. Not sure why, but so many of these desolate mountains have really weird summits.

About 15 miles east of Quartzsite there was a 20mile stretch full of mostly large (15-20’) Saguaro Cactus. Really made for an interesting stretch and then as suddenly as they appeared, they morphed back to plain old desert. Again not one place to stop and look and take a picture. Further down the line I passed a large facility which was obviously open for people to look. I couldn’t stop. It was named “Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch”. Googling it later proved it would have been a worthwhile stop. But there were miles to go. Wanted to end up in a slightly lower elevation than the mountains in that temps tonight would be sub freezing above 4,000’ with snow likely. Snow and freezing not on my agenda!

I had an hour plus stop in Tonapah AZ (not Nevada). I fueled up and got a Subway footlong for lunch and probably a snack later on tonight. Fueling was a bit different for me and took extra time. I always fuel in the truck lanes at truck stops. For years I’ve carried a Flying J/Pilot card and a Good Sam card which should get me a $0.03/gal discount on fuel. While in Lake Havasu City I signed up with a major trucking company which offers their trucker card to RVers. It’s free. It’s not a credit card but instead it’s linked to your checking account. You buy fuel on the card and the transaction is transmitted to the company which then debits your checking account the next day or two. With all the fuel they buy through their system, they negotiate with the truck stop chains for pricing discounts. The current winning truck stop chain is TA (Travel America) which is nationwide. The current discount is $0.55/gal. So your checking account is only debited for the discounted amount plus, if I remember right, a $0.65 processing fee. The card is good at all truck stops in the truck lanes but only TA provides the discount. I needed less than half a tank but the discount should be something over $45.00.

It took awhile because I’m old and feeble minded. I’ve had the card for 6 weeks but this was my first usage and I forgot how. I know how to use the fuel pumps and all their selections (ICC#, DEF Y/N?, Carrier, truck number etc. but you need to put in an identifier for the card (like you do with a credit card and your zip code) and I could remember what the ID was. So I had to call the trucking company and the nice lady took me thru the process. Thankfully there wasn’t any truck behind me waiting to fuel up. Sure wish there was a program like that for the more expensive, usually, marine diesel.

So I’m now 400 miles into a nearly 1500 mile change in venue. I’m safely ensconced in a vast truck stop parking lot that is virtually empty for the holiday. All toasty warm and watching a Gaither Homecoming Classic DVD “Songs of Freedom”. Not sure what or if I’ll queue something up after. I broke out a couple Omaha Steak filets and my cast iron skillet, some yellow potato and sour cream and enjoyed a delightful New Years Eve parking lot dinner. I have it so rough😎😂😎! Wondering if there will be party favors in the parking lot at midnight. Not that I’ll be awake to notice. Have a Happy New Year and here’s hoping 2020 is soon long gone in the rear view mirror.

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Postscript: comparison of two states. AZ truly epitomizes the Keystone Kops when it comes to both Covid precautions and the vaccine. The statewide priorities basically are everyone who isn’t old and who doesn’t have have compromising health issues. In fairness, they now have at least move 75 yo and older from the bottom of the list. Sun City must have some pull.

In contrast, I’ve previously posted how transparent TX is vis a vis the vaccine per their write ups. In practice, they seem to be doing well also. I’m still in AZ but have filled in the TX form and received email confirmation of my place in line and vaccine registration/location. 😊

4 thoughts on “112. On the Way to the Rio Grand Valley (or Happy New Years Eve Day)”

  1. Great report. On the road again. I can just hear Willie Nelson crooning that song.
    So glad we saw you when we did. I don’t blame you for heading out of Havasu City. You probably deserve some type of award for sticking it out as long as you did.
    Happy trails!

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    1. Yea. The Emmy for stupidity goes to… drum roll please, Al Van Putten. Dutch thriftiness actually. The monthly rate is the same a two weeks at the weekly rate so I left 2 weeks early on my monthly reservation which would have kicked me back to weekly so it was a wash meaning leave now or stick it out and perhaps leave after only 3 weeks and pay more than the monthly. TMI!!

      And yes Willie’s On the road again is on the flash drive along with about 14 hours of other good vibes so I don’t need xm nor fiddling around to find a good station

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  2. Friends of mine, who live in Vegas, went to Quartzite last March> They wanted to get a feel for the place first to determine if they would want to attend the Gem shoes. They really liked the area and were able to do some good rock hounding. Jury is still out if they would go back in January/February.

    Safe travels.

    Linda

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    1. Hey Linda, Hope you had a good New Years Eve and New Years Day. Quartzsite is a phenomenon, no doubt about it. But it’s not a place to be in the summer unless you’re looking for melted gems and rocks🙂

      Thanx for reading!
      Al

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