Hiding Out, Rocky Sunsets, & Mexico – Yuma, AZ
As you’ve probably all gathered we’ve been “hiding out” at our new boondocking spot for almost 2 weeks now. Only a few, select folks have known where we are and they’ve been kind enough to respect our privacy (thanks guys!). Part of our time here has been spent getting over a flu that Paul brought back from Florida (ugh! not fun), the other time has been spent recharging in the wilds we love so much as well as kicking around some flea markets and taking a quick trip to Mexico for the dentist. It’s been the perfect getaway, but we’re coming to the end of the road. We’re approaching our 14-day stay limit so we’ll be moving on soon which means I can finally reveal where we’ve been (see how that works?).
But let me set the scene first…
The spot we’re in is one of the rockiest, bleakest boondocking locations I know. It sits at the mouth of the Chocolate Mountains around 8 miles West of Yuma, AZ. These imposing and unnaturally dark mountains, also known as the Cargos Muchachos are named, so the story goes, for two Mexican boys who found gold ore in the hills and came back with their shirts loaded = the muchachos cargados (loaded boys). The ground is frighteningly barren, even for a desert, and the rocky surface (in places) so hard and sharp it wears through your shoes. It’s achingly dry, to the point that you thirst just by looking at it and when the winds come (which they do often) they roar and tear across the empty plains like ghosts howling in the night. If it weren’t for the gold, I don’t think anyone would have ever settled here at all.
It’s an awful, cruel place. And darn it, I just love it here….
We’ve been coming to this spot near Yuma (right off Ogilby Road) since our second year on the road, and some might consider it an unusual choice. You see Yuma is a mish-mash of a place, a frugal snowbirders paradise just loaded (packed and packed) with super-cheap RV parks, flea markets and strip malls. It’s not a pretty town at first sight, and as you drive through the endless view of packed-in-like sardines RV Parks it’s enough to make any boondocker cringe and want to flee in screaming terror.
I honestly don’t even know why we stopped here first time around. For whatever reason those chocolate mountains drew me, we found a quiet spot to park and then the place started to grow on us. We discovered hidden mines, awesome ghost towns, fabulous hiking trails and the absolute, complete and utter glorious loneliness of walking amongst the rocky hills. Plus we experienced some of the most intense desert sunsets we’ve ever seen (the header on this blog, which is a true picture of the colors that evening, is taken from here). Before long we were coming every year and we’ve been doing so ever since.
Here’s just a few of things we’ve been up to this time around:
Yuma Flea Markets
Many folks think of Quartzsite as the epicenter of flea markets in Arizona, especially when it comes to RV stuff. That’s partly true (you CAN get just about anything at Q), but the more hidden secret, perhaps even the more authentic flea markets are in Yuma.
If your version of a dream is rummaging through piles of $1 stuff, then this is your spot. And there are so many RVers here that you can buy pretty much all the same RV stuff as Q (e.g. little knick-knacks, LED lights, flag poles and solar panels) just for a cheaper price. Honestly if you love flea markets, you’re going to drool and faint with glee over this place. The two biggest flea markets in town are these:
- Mexican Flea Market -> The cheapest and rowdiest of the Yuma flea markets is the Park ‘N Swap or what some local folks call the Mexican flea market. This is where you can find the cheapest bargains in clothes, the biggest rummage bins, the vastest selection of knick knacks and accessories….ALL for a few dollars a piece. Plus you can do all your shopping while rocking out to some Mariachi music and eating some authentic south-of-the-border street food.
- Arizona Flea Market -> The Arizona Marketplace is a slightly upper-scale market that in my mind this looks exactly like a huge tented version of Quartzsite. You’ve got a bunch of regular rummage stores intermixed with tons of RV stuff (chairs, matts, LED lights solar panels etc.), massage spots and more. If you can’t make it to Q, this will give you the same experience and there’s still plenty of good bargains for $5-$10. There’s a food court and few fresh veggie vendors too.
There’s one more flea market the Yuma Indoor Marketplace, but frankly it’s a teeny tiny fraction in size of the two above and not really worth the effort, so I’d stick with the others.
One of the big bonuses of coming to Yuma is that it is literally a hop and skip away from Los Algodones, the Mexican Dental Capital of the West. This little 10-block town is literally walking distance across the border (everyone walks to get there) and has no less than 300 dentists and dentist specialists, including spots to get prescription glasses and meds. This is a town that caters entirely to medical tourism and with prices, on average, 50-70% less than the US for top-quality work business is BOOMING.
We started coming here in 2011 and we liked it so much that Dr.Eva Urena is now our regular dentist. Hundreds of people go across the border each day, get some tooth-work done, pick-up lunch (and a margarita), do a bit of shopping and come on back home. Believe me that if you go, you will have plenty of company.
We went across to have our annual teeth cleanings ($35) done earlier this week, we well as get a couple of small fillings replaced ($50 each for me…two old fillings had fallen out). We followed this with a local lunch before joining the line to get back into the US (the line is short in the AM, but grows to ~40 mins wait after lunch). Easy, fun and inexpensive.
Going to Mexico for Dentistry is not everyone’s cup of tea, I totally get that, which is why I wrote a detailed 2-part series about Los Algodones a few years back that I’ve kept updated ever since. If you’re interested in trying this yourself, have a read:
- Getting Dental Work In Mexico Part I – Clarifying Myths & Facts
- Getting Dental Work In Mexico Part II – Our Los Algodones Experience
Hanging By The Rocks
The rest of our time here we’ve just been hanging by the chocolate mountains and enjoying the sunsets. We’ve had a few, select folks over to visit and been joined by our buddies Mike&Kelly for a few days. Plus we’ve been collecting a particularly fun Geocache series (the President Series) which has been taking us all over the area for hiking/biking, as well as teaching us a bunch of really interesting and little-known stuff about the various US Presidents. Most of the time though, we’ve just been hanging, enjoying, soaking in this crazy rocky environment.
That brings you up to date folks. Within the next days we’ll be raising our jacks and jetting off to a new mystery boondocking location. See you all there!
Related Links & Posts:
- Visit Yuma -> Official visitor guide site HERE
- Back In Time To The Heyday Of Gold -> Hedges/Tumco Ghost Town
- Yuma, AZ Has Grown On Me
- Off To Yuma….Gold….And Mexico!
- In Search of Gold – American Girl Mine, CA