Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quartzsite, Arizona

February 25 - March 1, 2017
Quartzsite, Arizona

Saturday's drive down Hwy 60, then a few miles on I-10 to Quartzsite, is a quick 58 miles. Bright sunny skies, and no wind, make for a nice trip.

The Scenic Road RV Park is the third park we've used in Quartzsite, and will likely be the place we stay from now on. The price is better than Quail Run (Passport America), the park is nicer than Hassler's, the owner is very friendly and helpful, the sites are level and everything works well. The only ding is that although there are open sites not next to anyone, every night we've had people directed to either or both sides of us. While they've been quiet neighbors, it's always nicer to have the added space.

Unlike the chaos that is Q in January, the little town is downright quiet. A handful of vendors remain at Tyson Wells, but everyone else has pretty much packed up and left. A sprinkling of boondockers still dot the desert, some ATVs kick up a bit of dust on back roads, and all the eateries (minus the show vendors) remain open. It's like Quartzsite-light.

My dad lived here for several years and I always enjoy visiting in the time between the big show and the big heat. 

And we have friends here.....I know, it's getting ridiculous.

But the first person we get to see is not an old friend, but a new one. Although after only a few minutes, Gaelyn seems very much an old friend :-)  Having missed her here last year, I'm delighted we're able to catch her before she moves on. We have a fun visit at our house, then visit some more over yummy tacos in town. Too soon we go our separate ways, knowing we'll meet up again down the road for sure!

Although I am the worst selfie-taker ever, I at least remembered to get a photo!
The Desert Bar is only open on weekends, so Sunday we must go to this must-see place. Let's go with friends!

Another highlight of Q for us is the proximity to our good friends Mike and Rita. She was in my class, he was in Bill's, and they have been married for 45+ years. They pick us up and we're off on the 48 mile adventure. The first 43 miles are just desert highways, but that last 5 miles of rough dirt road are the real adventure. That, and the unique place that is the Nellie E Saloon.  

I've seen the bar on many blog posts - you probably have too - and it's still a surprise to see how far in the middle of nowhere it really is! Closed from April to October, they make additions and improvements every year. It is now four levels of tables and chairs with food concessions on two levels and bar service on the main floor. The food is good, the beer selection horrible, and the live music is awesome. Cash only!!

We spend a few hours enjoying all of the above with our life-long pals. The weather is perfect.

Solar is the only power - including the pump for the 360' well.
What seem like suicidal people stand on top of the outcropping - all day long :-(

Massive materials frame the outdoor venue.

The surrounding views are even more impressive.

The body-less church was completed in 1996. Weddings are held here, but no services.
Upper level seating has wonderful canyon views.
Rita and Mike, one of our most favorite couples.
On our way out we find a Wrangler on its side, windows broken, oil running out - but everyone is okay when we stop to check. Not far down the road the wrecker passes us, just behind the sheriff. Glad I don't have to explain that one.

They drop us at home with plans to get together later in the week.

Rain is in the forecast and while locals don't think there'll be "much", we head out Monday morning to play in the desert before it arrives. There are miles of trails in the area, some among the hills where we can look for arrowheads and cool rocks.

We find a great spot over a hill and around a corner above a wash. Perfectly quiet under cloudy skies, we spend an hour wandering. 

I never tire of these long vistas.

We often find ourselves exploring different areas.
Tessa and I climb through shale and flowers to the top of a hill.

Queen of all she surveys.....
Lovely pastels among the rock.

It looks like a bunch of green caterpillars and is the only one  like this we see.

Another, very small, unique beauty. The small flower is the size of pomegranate seeds.
The "haul".
Continuing south toward darker skies, the road gets rougher - and we find a marble quarry. Closed today, but looks like it is still active. Huge boulders of different colors line their fence. 

We love watching a storm travel across the open desert, although it's usually a good sign to head out of the hills and washes. Later we get a flash-flood-possible notice so it's probably good we turned around.

The road skirts Sunset Marble Mine

Light rain enhances the desert green.
The storm moves north.
We bring the rain back to the park where it stays around for hours, giving the area a good soaking, and us a wonderful night's sleep.

In October, 1995, the Winers lost their 8 year old daughter, Celia, to a viral infection. In the three years she lived in Quartzsite, Celia touched a lot of people, and her death was felt throughout the little community. Many came together to make Celia's Rainbow Garden in the town park.

More well known as the naked bookseller at Reader's Oasis Bookstore - Paul Winer is Celia's father.

Over the years it has grown into a memorial park with places honoring many more who have passed. We find it Tuesday morning, not far from our park, and walk through the variety of tributes. Most show signs of weather and wear, all are touching.

The garden entrance

Short walls bear the hand prints of those who donated time and funds.

Some are remembered with photos and trees.

This unique flowering bush marks one site.

Remembering a man and his music.

A woman who loved to run.

This large tree branch bent in a complete circle is fascinating.

A miniature western town was built in 1974 at a nearby RV park. When the park closed, the buildings were donated to the garden and set up here in 2001.

Like many ghost towns, the structures are worn.
It is a unique place, I'm glad we found it. The return of sunny skies make for a lovely day to just stroll through the garden.

Back home I clean the Jeep, and Bill replaces a LED ceiling light. We need a couple more lights and check the remaining vendors in town with no luck. As we drive around, more folks are packing up their tents and tables. The weather is so beautiful, it's hard to believe the season is already winding down.

We missed a visit with another friend, Freda, when we were near Skull Valley, but she is passing through Tuesday evening so we meet at the Yacht Club. Freda was two years ahead of me in school, but Bill and I both have fun memories with her. We enjoy getting caught up, and are hoping she'll be in Desert Center this weekend while we're there - especially since I fail to get a photo!

When I was in high school, my dad's best friends were Larry and Joyce. I babysat their kids often, and all of them were like my family. Larry has since passed, but I'm friends with Joyce and the two kids on Facebook so in recent years have kept track of how they're doing.

Bill's former employer supplies the water district where my dad worked, and where Joyce still works near Parker. In one of those "small world" relationships, Bill knows Joyce as well.

Wednesday we head to Parker to meet up with Joyce. It's a wonderful reunion, we laugh at the memories, getting caught up and promising to get together the next time we're here. Again, she is driving off as I realize I didn't get a photo!!!

Later we meet up with Mike and Rita again - this time at Silly Al's nearby. We never run out of things to talk about with these two :-))

It is always a busy time in Quartzsite. One more day, one more visit nearby......


  1. It's wonderful you guys keep up with so many of your high school classmates--I on the other hand am seldom in touch with anyone from high school--good for you guys!

    1. It is rare I know, Eagle Mountain people have managed to stay in touch (even before Facebook) and we have such a great time when we get together.

  2. I agree with Janna. I lived in the same hometown for 30 years and never saw any friends from high school. It's amazing watching a storm move through the desert.

    1. We sometimes talk with others about why so many of us have stayed in touch (or gotten back in touch) and a common theme is that our hometown was closed. It's like a moment in time was held intact - and that kept us all connected. We know we're lucky in any case :-)

  3. Finding more friends...what fun:) One day we will have to make the drive to the Desert Bar. Sure looks like a fun place. What a wonderful idea to create this beautiful garden! Glad you found it:)

    1. I think I'd avoid it during peak weekends in November and December - I hear it's shoulder to shoulder madness - but it is definitely a fun place you guys would enjoy. Only Coors, Bud and Miller so no decent beer, but there is a full bar :-) The garden is very sweet.

  4. I suspect everybody who has been to the Q has met/seen the naked bookseller. I did not know of the Memorial Garden. Thanks for sharing and that is something to visit on our next trip.

    1. I agree, most don't know his name either :) It's a nice spot for a stroll when in the area.

  5. You must not have visited the ladies' room at the Desert Bar or there would have been at least one picture of it. :)

    1. I used the new one downstairs - not the fresh air experience of the other one :-))))

  6. So by a full bar, they have Maker's Mark? Hope so, Jodee! They will be closed by the end of April, though...

    1. They might - I should have checked! Yes, they'll be closed I think :-((((

  7. Celia's Garden is wonderful. Being in the throes of viral infection, that an 8 year old could die from it brings me up short. So very sad. How wonderful for so many people to come together to remember others.

    1. She was a frail little girl, born at under 1.5 pounds she didn't have the stamina to fight it successfully. You're much tougher! It is a special spot for lots of families.

  8. Busy, busy, busy! Though I've always wanted to visit the Desert Bar, I am saddened to learn it has horrible beer! Drive all that way for crappy beer???? :-)

    It's amazing how much rain has fallen lately on desert that usually is super parched...super bloom on the way!

    1. The beer is a huge disappointment :-( The blooms are going to be wonderful - I'm hoping we get to see some of it in April in Nevada.

  9. Interesting to see Quartzsite in the calm season! We've never spent time there, but have merely driven through. We stopped once at the bookstore, and I was treated to an impromptu jazz concert by the proprietor. He played the piano and sang a couple of songs. Naked, of course. It was priceless. I didn't know about the garden—it's a lovely memorial.

    1. I haven't been to the bookstore in years, still a very popular place :-))))) For us, this is a much better time of year for a visit.

  10. Replies
    1. Trying not to - we got rid of sooooo many rocks before we went on the road, and they get heavy very quickly!

  11. So glad we finally crossed trails. I'm loving meeting many new and old friends this winter, though it feels like spring. You are the best at discovering unique little treasures along the journey.

    1. It was so fun! I really like the simple, local places when I can find them :)