I’d planned to post this second part within a day or two of the first, but I was forced to take a sabbatical when, the very next day, something began to bother my throat. What I expected to be a two or three day cold, turned out to be five grueling days of laryngitis and sleepless nights of coughing and spitting. On day six our kind neighbours sincerely suggested I go to a clinic to get checked out and offered to drive us. Riding through the open air on the bike had somehow lost its appeal for me. I accepted the offer. Fortunately the diagnosis wasn’t “Valley Fever,” one possibility that concerned our friends, but I was just as surprised to learn that it was allergies! I’ve been hearing a lot on the news lately about the poor air quality because of the dust, and reports of more cases of allergies starting early this year, probably because of the hotter and dryer weather. But I’ve never been one to suffer from allergies, other than mild hay fever now and again, so I was completely unprepared for this. I returned home with $150 worth of medications to combat this out-of-control problem, drugs that I usually avoid, but embraced this time with the knowledge that the torture would soon end. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the signs and start on the antihistamines right away.
So what am I allergic to, and when did it start? When did the itchy ears begin? Was that at Quartzsite? It could very well have been. Let me tell you about Quartzsite.
There’s a story among some seasoned RVers that a visit to Quartzsite during the first two months of the year is an absolute must, while others who have gone don’t understand the attraction and will never go again. I think it compares the Friday the 13th Bike Rally that started out with a few bikers getting together on a Friday the 13th in the small Ontario town of Port Dover many years ago. They made plans to do it every Friday the 13th and the invitation spread. Now, the town is completely taken over by bikers and spectators on those days, especially on the warm summer ones. There’s music and vendors and long lines at the restaurants. Bikers go just because it’s the place for bikers to be. Quartzsite is the same for RVers, but it’s not for just a day, it’s for a couple of months. They start rolling in the first week of January. Most are snow birds, looking for an inexpensive and warm place to spend the winter; others, like us, are just curious and plan to spend only a day or two, just to say we’ve been there.
I have to say that I was feeling very disappointed when we arrived late in the afternoon. We’d watched a DVD about the great migration to Quartzsite and I’d envisioned one very large tract of desert land that slowly transformed into a mass of RVs and vendors. I thought that the restaurant and book store were also moved in and under large tents, and likewise the RV Show that was scheduled for the weekend we were there. That wasn’t the case. We drove through town, where we saw the restaurants and book stores and gem shops, and out toward the last exit to Hwy. 10. There we found a barren looking patch of sand and gravel where a couple of dozen RVs were set up. There was also a large tent and a sign that read “Revival Tonight.” We circled through the area until we found a fairly level spot not too far from the road, and set up camp. Looking at a map we discovered that the RV Show was back down the street and across the highway. By the time we got the bike unloaded, rode over there and found a place to park, it was 4:45. We were told that the doors closed at 5:00. We had just enough time to find a vendor of the LED light bulbs that we were looking for to reduce electrical usage in the motor home. We’d have to return the next day. When we were leaving, so were hundreds of other vehicles, spewing clouds of desert dust into the air. I imagined what it was doing to my lungs! I wished I had a face scarf with me.
We returned to camp for a quiet evening. It seems that most RVers travel in groups, or at least plan to meet up at predetermined locations. When we arrived, most of the RVs that were already there had formed wagon circles of four or five motor homes. We were on the outside. A walk over to the revival tent in the hopes of hearing some good gospel music proved disappointing. There were no television stations available either, so we decided to read in bed, but we were soon asleep.
The next day things looked a little better. We went back to the RV Show and roamed around for a few hours. We found several things to buy for the RV, including one set of bulbs for the ceiling to try, different that the one we’d picked up the night before, as well as some others for the wall lamps. After a brief rest and a sausage on a bun, we continued through the outdoor flea markets until we had only $1.00 left between us, not even enough to buy a much needed bottle of water! We did find an ATM and water on the way back to the bike, enabling us to seek out Sweet Darlene’s Restaurant for a home cooked meal and fresh baked sticky buns for our bedtime snack. At the table we met Jan from Oregon (I think) and exchanged stories and tips of the RV life. On the way out we chatted with a couple who were also wintering somewhere near Mesa, with a group of Ham Radio buffs, and only visiting Quartzsite for the week. More examples of the interesting and friendly people we meet.
We spent our last day back at the RV Show to get the rest of the light bulbs, and finished our tour around the Flea Market. We learned of the many other things available in the Quartzsite area, but we had tickets for a show back at Mesa the next evening so had to be on our way in the morning. We had to stop in at the famous Reader’s Oasis Books store, where we spent an hour perusing the thousands of used books and magazines. There is a sign on the door warning of the “nudist” on site who wears only a G-string.” Since Paul Winer (the nudist) had been interviewed on the DVD, we quickly recognized him when he passed through the store wearing only a black felt hat and what appeared to me to be something even less than a G-string! Sorry ladies, I didn’t take any pictures. Let’s just say that his days as a porn star are long past, although he is still pretty lean. It could have been worse.
We went to Times Three Family Restaurant for dinner. The parking lot was full and there was a line up at the door, a sign of good food, we figured. We got seated quite quickly, but the place was packed. Our table was close enough to the two on either side of us to be considered one long one, but everyone was friendly. A cute little lady with out-of-control white hair and bad teeth, but sparkling blue eyes and a lopsided smile, and her husband kept us entertained with their views on American politics and their displeasure with the Utah government who had just passed a law to allow gay marriage. I just smiled and nodded. I wasn’t getting into that, but when she suddenly asked Jim if he was gay and he said, with a serious face, “yes”, the look on her face was precious. Jim quickly told her that he was joking with her.
Our waitress began to apologize for the poor service that was to come from the moment she took our orders. She said it was very busy and she had ten tables to wait on. We said we weren’t in any hurry. When we had sat down, the people on the other side of us were eating their salads. An hour later we still hadn’t been served our salads, nor Jim his iced tea, and the others still didn’t have their entrees. They complained when they watched other patrons, who had come in after them and been served by a different waitress, already on the way out. Soon our meat loaf meals were on the tables, the special of the day, but we had to tell the waitress that we didn’t get our salads, or the bread that our neighbours told us we all should have gotten. We were nearly finished our meals when the waitress brought us our salad in to-go boxes. We never saw the bread or the iced tea. She took the iced tea off the bill, but Jim let the manager, who was working the cash, know that we’d received the worst service ever experienced. He tore up our bill. I wonder if that waitress still has a job.
In the morning we strolled through the rocks and gemstones shop next door to our campsite before leaving for home. They were all so beautiful and fascinating that it was difficult to leave, but leave we did.
On the way out of town we made one last stop at the Hi Jolly Cemetery to read about a bit of Arizona history.
We got “home” to Mesa in time to shower, change, and eat before walking over to Regal Hall for “Dancing with the (Mesa) Stars.”