A couple of days of walking the Strip isn’t the same as hiking the trails of Death Valley, but it amounted to decent exercise anyway. It was about two miles from our campsites at the KOA Las Vegas to the Bellagio, and I made that roundtrip trip three times on foot. With all the detours that one has to make (via overpasses and storefronts), the trip seems more like ten miles.
The Las Vegas visit was really entirely business. I didn’t get a chance to play poker with Brian and Leigh, and none of us spent a dime in the casinos. Airstream’s president was in town for KOA’s introduction of rental Airstreams, as well as numerous people from the KOA management team and Airstream’s PR agency. Brett and I met with everyone, took hundreds of photos, and did all those things you do to solidify relationships between business partners. Having accomplished all that, I dropped Brett, Adam and Susan at the airport, and on Saturday the Airstream was rolling again south to our next stop.
In the most recent issue of Airstream Life I wrote an article about Quartzsite, which is a town that has become the center of an annual winter RV phenomenon in the midst of the desert. Being a convenient stopover between Las Vegas and Tucson, and having the bonus that some friends were there, we aimed our ship thataway.
It’s about 200 miles south of Las Vegas down Route 95, or about 150 miles west of Phoenix. The scenery occasionally gets a tad dull, so we brought along two episodes of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” on the iPod and Emma read books. But after the second episode was done, Eleanor began to feel sick to her stomach. Pretty soon we realized she had picked up something viral from one of the many coughing-sneezing northern visitors that we passed on the street.
Thus she has proven that it’s not true that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It has come with us to Quartzsite. Two days ago Eleanor was dancing on the piano at FAO Schwartz, and now she is confined to the trailer, where there are a bed and a bathroom within 20 feet of her at all times.
There are several options for camping in Quartzsite. You can stay at any one of about 70+ campgrounds, with varying levels of service and amenities. You can camp in Bureau of Land Management “Long Term Visitor Areas” for $40 (two weeks) or $180 (6 months), with dump station and trash dumpsters. You can camp in BLM free areas without any amenities at all (not even water). Or you can go to private boondocking areas for $7 per night.
We chose the latter, because we didn’t expect to stay for long, and also because the El Camino Real Unit of WBCCI was holding a rally there. Our friend Tommy G (ukulele aficionado who we met during our San Diego visit) is part of that group, as well as other uke players. Each night of the rally they had a uke jam/sing-along and by arriving on Saturday I was able to join them for the final night.
Several other friends are here too. Daisy and Don (who we recently met in Campo CA at the railway museum), Patti and Tom (“vintage Airstream” friends who we see at all the western vintage events), Yank and Rickie (who we originally met at Crater Lake in July 2006 and keep running into), Mike & Tracy from Silverton CO, and Jim Breitinger (the Airstreaming meteorite dealer, who was also camping in Quartzsite with me last year).
All of the El Camino Real folks bailed out on Sunday, and Jim took off to Phoenix to fly to a funeral, but Daisy and Don are still here to keep Emma and me company while Eleanor recovers. Mike & Tracy and a few other friends are around as well, but parked a few miles off in one of the LTVAs, so we don’t see them as much. It is a good thing we traveled from Las Vegas in our usual “ready for anything” mode (full water, empty black/gray tanks, plenty of propane and groceries) because we’re going to have to stay longer than we had planned.
The major activity here is browsing the shows. “Show” is code for flea-market-style vendors clustered by the side of the main drags, selling everything from Indian frybread to Chinese jade phalluses. No kidding. The emphasis varies according to which show is current, but it includes lots of tools, rocks, carvings, RV supplies, hats, county-fair food, and used “stuff” of every possible description. With Daisy and Don, Emma and I wandered the aisles for a few hours and boosted the economy by purchasing exactly one egg slicer and a few tacos.
Eleanor may not see any of Quartzsite, but fortunately we have no schedule this week. We are just going to take it one day at a time and see how her recovery goes. At $7 per day we can afford to stay as long as we like, and there’s plenty of sun to power our solar panels. Hiking in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is definitely out, but with luck she’ll be feeling well enough to walk around this afternoon. Being sick is never fun, but at least we are “home” in the Airstream, and not in a hotel room.