11th January The Cat Drag'd Inn departed Franklin Massachusetts
for a mad dash drive to arrive at
Quartzsite in time for the opening undress. One guest was aboard from the start; another was picked up in Phoenix. The first part of the trip, all the way to Albuquerque, was for the most part uneventful. A nice and easy ride from truck stop to truck stop with one long morning off at Saint Louis to visit the grand arch at the Gateway To The West. The weather held good all the way to Albuquerque but then we began to hear of reports of snow on the road ahead. In the seventy miles to Grants the traffic got slower and slower as the snow got thicker and heavier. Interstate 40 was closed to westbound traffic beyond Milan so we put in at the Petro Truck Plaza there and spent what was left of the night sandwiched among the plethora of 18-wheelers waiting for the road to open.
The next morning was bright but a lot of snow had fallen. The
road was open through to Flagstaff but when we left Milan the word was
that I-17 south over the pass to Phoenix was still closed. Later as we
got closer, word was received that it had been open to vehicles with chains.
Then, just as we reached the exit to turn south or get off and wait it
was opened to all vehicles. On the north side of the pass and for most
of the way across the height of land only one lane was plowed. Even at
that, several inches of snow were on the road and in some places, where
it was necessary to pass stuck vehicles, we had to go through more than
a foot of snow. The Cat did well in the snow and the little truck
followed dutifully along. Finally, on the south side of the pass, the road
turned down into warmer climes and the temperature rose as quickly as the
After taking on one guest and some groceries in Phoenix, we stopped for one night and a good soaking at El Dorado Hot Spring in Tonapah. The soaking was taken in more ways than one. Talk about being in hot water. Something about that place addled my brain and I lost the second of two tub-side chess games with one of my guests.
In January 2001 Naturists at the Magic Circle at Quartzsite Arizona marked 10 years since the first "Beyond This Point..." signs were set out at the BLM South La Posa Long Term Visitors camping area. The Magic Circle, and its association with The Naturist Network, and the Birds Without Feathers, a SIG within the Escapees RV club, sponsored a 4th annual rally at Quartzsite from 17th through 21st January. There were games of all sorts, a bicycle parade, potluck socials, campfire circles, workshops, and demonstrations. The weather was mostly sunny all the time however a little on the cool side. Great for flying kites tho. The Magic Circle is located about six miles south of the world famous rock and mineral show in Quartzsite.
Biking through the desert into town was one of the things we did several times during the next few days. See the January 2001 National Geographic for their article on Quartzsite, 85346, for some facts and photos. A hundred thousand RV's were parked in the LTVA's stretching south from the center of town and more were arriving at the rate of some fifteen to twenty thousand a day as the place approached the peak of its winter population.
Traffic on the road was slow to say the least and bicycle was the best way to get around.
A little south and more to the west of the Magic Circle is a place where one can view some petroglyphs in the cliffs above Tyson's Wash. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has dated these glyphs nor the several grinding holes on the top of one of the ledges but it is clear to even the untrained eye that they predate this present era. These are symbols of an earlier time, shallow chisellings into the rock face; such art today would be done with spray paint. Besides, they are called "petroglyphs", not "graffiti".
On one bike trip into town, we wandered this way and that through the roads and washes and across the scrub, always looking for the tall sign of our landmark and target at each little ridge. The last turn was a left onto the pavement of the south service road as we came out from behind the big red and white tent of the RV Show. There ahead of us the golden arches towered over a flea market strewn with bargains of all sorts. I had purposely left my wallet back at camp. If I wanted anything bad enough it would mean another twelve mile bike ride. That would give me plenty of time to have second thoughts.
Suddenly a black truck went sliding past as it stopped in a cloud of
dust. Two people emerged shouting and waving. The last time this shouting
and waving thing happened the same boy was with me on Boston Common. Now
it turns out to be Andy and Lisa whom I worked with at Palmer Station in
1990. I passed by their boat when The Cat Drag'd Inn was northbound on
the Malaspina Ferry in the inland passage on the way to Haines Alaska in
June of '98. Now they were here looking for me. What an encounter! We went
for ice cream and talk and had a good time remembering old times.
Bike flats and kite flying, meeting locals and eating fine meals, walks in the desert and marshmallows by the campfire, the days went by all too quickly. Soon it was time for another soak at El Dorado and a trip to the airport at PHX to send guests home and get my Self pointed to Albuquerque again. This time work calls. I'll be building steerable antennae for Jackson and Tull for the next few months.
I went by the southern route, via Tucson and Deming and then north, hoping to prolong the warmer weather as long as I could before arriving where winter still lurked.
Now we are halfway through Febter. The nights are still cold enough
to freeze water outside but at least the days warm rapidly. Except for
one day of flurries and hail, the snow has stayed up on the surrounding
hills and working outside is not too bad. A couple of months of delightful
weather are ahead, then the heat of summer will arrive, and I'll have to
think about elsewhere. My main plan is still to head for Oregon and look
for hot springs in the cool mountains. Let me know if you want to go along.
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Copyright © 2003, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn