October 20, 2008 — We took advantage of the great Internet connection yesterday (about the only thing that I can say that was good about our room) to work on our computers — and for me, to catch up on MostlyFiction.com.
We moved out of the cheap motel room this morning. Amazing how much stuff we accumulated staying in the same place for one week! Paper plates, plastic cups, paper towels, kleenix box, toilet paper, snacks, towels, desk lamp. Practically needed to have a yard sale just to move out!
So after our breakfast at Starbucks –Cappucino and Oatmeal — we headed west on I-10 to Phoenix and beyond. Our goal was Quartzsite, Arizona. This place started as just a bunch of RV owners collecting together in the desert. Carl took the Quartzsite exit by chance about 20 years ago and found that it had no gas station or anything except for one auto repair business. Everything else was RVs. He was curious as to what it had grown into, since everything has grown, and also if this might be some place we would want to stay if we were to buy an RV.
Anyway, the drive to Phoenix was nothing new — we had just taken this road last week to pick up Carl’s Macbook. However, I think I forgot to mention that just outside of Tucson, they grow cotton and milo. Cotton is so pretty. We love all the care that the city takes in uniquely decorating overpasses and all the plant life that appears in the medians and alongside the walls. This is something that you rarely see in New England. The older part of the city is not as nicely decorated, but it is also is not plain, either.
We still had another 90 miles to go to get to Quartzsite after we passed Phoenix. More mountains and Sonoran desert plant life all the way. I’m getting better a putting names to the plants — though I’m not sure I am pronouncing them correctly.
As expected Quartzsite had grown. Of course, I could have told you that just from looking at our camping guide. It’s interesting that they are now a full blown town with courthouse, schools, police department, water department, etc. There are also some real homes, but not all that many. This is early in the season and thus there were a lot of open lots, but my understanding is that this place will fill up with RVs over the next couple of months.
The only grocery store that we saw is a “surplus” store. Also of interest and unique is an area of Quartzsite that is officially for RV owners who want to set up shop and sell things — like an RV mall. This is only partially filled at the moment – again its too early in the season for the full effect.
Quartzsite does have their own radio station. At least while we listened to it, it was all 50s and early 60s music.
This is probably the only “town” left in America without a Walmart, or any of the other hundreds of retail outlets that you see in every other town. They are not immune to McDonald’s, Burger King, and Carl’s, Jr.
Outside of an RV haven, Quartzsite is a mecca for rockhounds. Having been a former rockhound myself… well let’s just say that today was my day to be a kid again. Of course, living out of the Prius meant that I could only take photos… which I’m sharing with you here.
We took 95 out of Quartzsite down to Yuma. This road includes a “Yuma proving ground” which the military uses for training, shooting, and probably blowing up things. I couldn’t help but think of the scene in Mr. & Mrs. Smith when the “Mrs.” is up on a mountain/hill ready to blow up the “Mr.” who’s messing around on a 4-wheeler. Really that scene could have been shot here.
Closer to Yuma, and thus closer to the Colorado river, it suddenly turns into a large agricultural area. After looking at the desert all day, this is a big surprise. I’m sorry that I didn’t get any photos because the farms were so perfectly plowed. I’m not sure what they were growing since it was freshly planted.
We got into Yuma after 4pm so we decided to get a hotel for the night and explore Yuma tomorrow. The hotel prices in Yuma are very high, so we decided to see what we could find on Highway 8. You know how I’ve said in the past that we look for newly built hotels, well we outdid ourselves this afternoon. Carl said he saw a sign for a Comfort Inn on 8 and since it wasn’t in my book, I thought “this will be new.” Too true. The hotel was still being built! Knowing that we couldn’t go back to town we decided to try a Microtel. Guess what? It is new and clean and about half as much as a Comfort Inn. I think we’ll stay again tomorrow night.
Tomorrow we explore Yuma.