Re-United With My Beloved Desert – Congress & Quartzsite, AZ
As I walked into the sunset the world was stretching. Shadows elongated towards the horizon, crevices deepened to a bottomless black and edges sharpened to paper-thin intensity. I was alone, just me and the desert and life seemed to stop in this very moment. I experienced a quiet so deep I wondered if it was real, a moment so arrested I wondered if I’d left the earthly realm.
And yet, alone as I was I felt many kindred spirits too. Those that walked thousands of years before me, those recently departed and the myriad of desert animals and people that inhabit this stark environment today. THIS was was life was all about. This very moment where the sun sets, where deep golden colors permeate your soul, when the silence of the world fills your mind.
There is something about the desert that does this kind of stuff to you. Something you don’t get anywhere else. The sea moves you and carries you on its waves, the mountains call and envelop you in their grandness, but the desert…the desert absorbs you completely and totally. You either love it or you hate it and if you’re the former it’s a love that never abates. You crave it and long for it, and only when you’re finally there do you feel complete, right, normal.
It’s been months since we were here, but I came back to the desert like a lover finds her long-lost other. It took only moments to get reunited, only seconds to feel like we never left each other.
In case you haven’t figure it out already I looooove the desert in winter.
This year we won’t be spending quite as much time in the desert as we typically do, mostly due to family commitments (flying home and such), plus we won’t be doing neeeearly as much boondocking as I’d like, but we wanted to squeeze in some meaningful desert moments before we headed to the bigger cities and this was where we decided to do it. Here’s how we spent our time….
A Quick Stop At Congress, AZ
Our first stop in this stark wilderness was a place we’ve visited before, but in a spot we haven’t specifically parked.
We were yearning for warmth after out chilly sojurn in Prescott and we had buddies just down the way, so we drove a mere hour down the mountain and popped into the SKP (Escapees) North Ranch park in Congress, AZ (review coming) for a few days. This cute little area of Arizona has a ghostly history and solid western roots. Its mild winters and miles of ATV, dog & people-friendly desert has made it a southern home base for many snowbirders. It’s a quiet place, with lots of alluring desert nature, bounded by pretty mountains and endless skies. The perfect little stop to just chill out and socialize.
Out first visit was with Janna & Mike (Tin Teepee) who bought a house at North Ranch just last year. We first met these folks thro’ mutual blogs many years ago, and have re-connected several times since. They’re both creative & handy folk, the Cowboy and his stylish Southern wife and in typical Janna & Mike fashion they’re already tearing things apart and putting them together, creating a house beauty out of a beast. Janna made us a superb dinner, entirely out of the RV (‘coz the kitchen in the house is gone, naturally) while the both of them entertained us with good ‘ol Montana Cowboy-style hospitality. It was great to be reunited with these folks and just reminds us that we have to go visit them up North one day.
Then, next morning we went for a doggie-date with Pheebes and Al & Kelly of The Bayfield Bunch. Those of you who follow the blog already know this lovely couple and their ridiculously cute dog. Al got me hooked on his blog many years ago thanks to his love of dogs, boondocking and photography, all things I felt an immediate connection to. These days they have a winter house down south, but I still look forward to his daily photo gems & down-to-earth musings. We had a lovely doggie-walk in the desert, followed by a good ‘ol chinwag on their relaxing porch. Another great set of folks to be reunited with, and yet another example of one of some of the long-term connections we’ve made thro’ the blog.
A Short Visit To Quartzsite, AZ
I’ve had a soft spot for Quartzsite ever since we first visited this place in 2010. It was our very first boondocking experience and I remember driving into the desert completely beside myself with anticipation and angst. Could we reaaaaly just park for free out here??? Do people DO this kind of thing? In a big rig? Would we damage the rig? How would we know where to go? Or what to do? We stumbled our way thro’ that first experience, complete with forehead-slapping, newbie-stupid incident (leaving the car hooked-up overnight, draining the battery (completely) and then realizing we didn’t have any jumper cables (who needs those?), but fellow boondockers helped us out and I….was….HOOKED.
We ended up driving to the East Coast that year and it took us over 2 years to get back, but we’ve never missed a year here since.
Interestingly enough many folks poo-poo Quartszite. It’s a small town, stark and barren (the desert is particularly “rocky” here), full of rummage stores and weird desert dwellers, and it becomes CRAZY during the 2 weeks of the “big RV show” every January. Who would want to be in this bleak landscape with hundreds of thousands of other people?
But me…well, I loooove Quartzsite.
It’s got all kinds of hidden coolness once you dig beneath those hard rocks. Communities of people (all kinds of people) that gather together here in total harmony, art sculptures that decorate the desert, ancient ground drawings that hide in the mountains, funky solar bars that greet you at the end of long dirt roads, hidden wilderness areas that lie just down the way, ghost towns, folks with stories that fill your mind, and (lest we forget) every single RV part known to man. Plus it’s the easiest, most inviting place for first-time boondockers, the perfect spot to try your hand at living off the grid. I love the craziness of the big show and I love how quiet the place becomes both before and after. I could spend weeks just bumming around here and we typically do, at least once a year.
This time around our goal was to introduce Paul’s dad and Ana to their very first boondocking experience. We rolled into Dome Rock, picked a few dozen acres of land for ourselves (very few people here this time of year) and parked with a view of the gorgeous KOFA mountains in the windshield. Ahhhhh, I was home….
We ended up spending several days here enveloped by the desert beauty, drinking margaritas and having magical sunset experiences (I wrote the first paragraph right here). We also (finally) managed a visit to Silly Al’s Pizza which not only offers most excellent Pizza (including gluten-free), but also a rather decent selection of craft beer (who knew?!). And lastly, as is often the case in the desert, we met friends. Bloggers boondockorbust happened to be parked ~1/2 mile down the road, and saw our “beastly” rigs coming in. We connected, meshed and will probably meet up again later in November.
Sadly this is the end of our boondocking, likely for the year. We need to figure out what we’re going to do with our batteries and we’ve got a few other upgrades & visits planned, both of which require us to be closer to civilization for a while. We are now parked in yet another old-time favorite spot from whence Paul will fly home and I will (no doubt) get up to my usual solo shenanigans. There will be more blogger friends and plenty more desert too, so don’t be surprised if I go off the deep philosophical end again sometime soon.
My beloved desert and I have been re-united and I’m not done with her yet….
Related Blog Posts (Quartzsite):
- Boondocking Site Review – Dome Rock Quartzsite, AZ
- 8 Tips For Shopping & Boondocking At Quartzsite, AZ
- The Biggest RV Gathering On Earth! Quartzsite, AZ
- Social, Crazy, Diverse – Quartzsite, AZ
- Day-Tripping To Parker & Lake Havasu, AZ
- Ancient Desert Figures – The Blythe Intaglios, CA
- The Living Ghost Town – Castle Dome City Museum, KOFA AZ
Related Blog Posts (Boondocking):