Ageing Gracefully

I initially wrote this post while we were still camped in the boonies near Quartzsite.  Ever write a post that you wonder whether or not to post?  Well that’s this one.  I had it scheduled then took it down,  Trashed it then brought it back.  After running into a couple here at Cave Creek Regional Park, a couple we met back in Dec., I decided to go ahead and post.  This couple looks and acts ten to twenty years younger than their physical age.  I had to ask them their secret…….hmmm, sounds familiar………Arizona

So here we go………

It’s Tuesday morning Jan. 29th in the sunny desert outside Quartzsite, Arizona.  Al’s lying on the couch sick and watching an old black and white western on TV.  I glance up from my computer and on the TV I see…..a vast barren desert, a rough make shift road, plumes of dirt churned up from a stage coach…..my how tough and hearty those folks must have been.  I look out my RV window….a vast barren desert, a rough make shift road, plumes of dirt churned up from 4 wheelers…..

aging

The road to our RV home in the desert

ageingBottled water, modern technologies, and RV’s with every convenience may be quite different from the equipment available 100 years ago, but the human spirit remains the same.  During our stay at Boomerville, Al and I participated in some events.  One group discussion I anticipated attending was on “Ageing Gracefully”.   I ponder, “Yippee…..will this be a Botox party?  Fillers, perhaps?  Or a recommendation on a miracle cream?“   Nope, not this group.  This was all about attitude and lifestyle.

Over the next hour, I heard tales… tales of adventure and a zest for life.  Physical age didn’t seem to matter or even be a focus.  The gal next to me was a divorcé, a retired nurse, mother and new grandmother.  She admits to living a nice and comfortable life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but wanting something more, wanting an adventure of sorts.  She wanted to travel the country in an RV, but didn’t want to do it alone.  After a two-year search, she met a partner via the internet and they now travel the country together in a Motorhome.

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My new hat and sunglasses from Quartzsite – does a great job at hiding forehead wrinkles

Another couple met at a bereavement group ten years ago and they haven’t looked back.  Yet another met via the Solo’s and Winds, both are RV Clubs for singles.  One couple lost a child.  In dealing with their grief they sold everything, moved into an RV and are traveling full-time exploring the United States and Canada. In all cases, these folks could have sat home feeling sorry for themselves, but they chose to live, really live, and set out on an adventure.  I see such a similarity between the characters in the black and white western on TV and these modern-day pioneers.  Confronted with adversity they face life’s challenges head on.  They forge their own path without a care for convention.  They seek adventure, friendship, a zest for life without a thought to age.BoondockingThe discussion takes a turn…… aging parents.  I think about my parents versus Al’s.  My parents; after traveling all over Europe on a motorcycle, immigrated to the U.S. with a two-year old child to travel America.  Well, life and more kids happened thus eluding that tour.  With the last one out of the house, it wasn’t long and they were on the road in a motorhome exploring.  Even when my mom turned 80, she would refuse to stay in a 55+ RV Park saying, “I’m not old enough…who wants to hang around with a bunch of old people anyway”?  Boy, I miss her.  What a zest for life and my dad hasn’t lost that zest either.  Whenever I call…..”Have you been to Ajo?  Have you driven that road?  Be sure and check out……..”  I easily hear the excitement in his voice.

Brittany Spaniel

Bear is 14 years old (98 in dog years) and doesn’t let age slow him down. He loves to travel

Al’s folks….well that’s another story.  They stayed home, didn’t have hobbies, rarely socialized, and complained a lot.  They appeared years and years older than my folks although they were the same physical age.  Why did they look and act so much older than my parents?  What was missing or different?  Why didn’t they age gracefully?

Bocce Ball

An active and social lifestyle can lead to longevity – Bocce Ball in the desert

The discussion continues on the importance of staying active and involved; working or volunteering at something you enjoy; engaging in hobbies; maintaining a sense of adventure and lust for life; not allowing age to dictate can or cannots.

So although I was somewhat disappointed the discussion wasn’t on the physical aspects of ageing but rather on the mental, I was enlightened.  It was definitely thought-provoking.

Ageing gracefully?  It’s all about attitude and lifestyle!  Do you have what it takes to age gracefully?  Do I?  Maybe…. but perhaps…… one day….. a little Botox might just help  😉

Eleanor Roosevelt – “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, BUT beautiful old people are works of art.”

Bocce Ball

Playing combat Bocce Ball = rocks and vegetation make for interesting play

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Rock Capital of the World

Quartzsites’ motto…. The Rock Capital of the World.  This sleepy little desert town with a population slightly over 3,000 turns into a thriving metropolis each year during the months of January and February.RVing

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The big tent and plenty of other vendors

Well over a million tourist’s cycle through Quartzsite for the numerous Gem and Mineral Shows, Rummage Sales, and the Big RV Tent Sale.  This year’s Big Tent Sale started on Jan 19th and ended Jan 27th. The Big Sale attracts thousands of RVer’s from around the country.  The landscape turns into a sea of RV’s in all directions.

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Yep, we need this!

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Do we have room in the RV for this stuff?  I didn’t think so!

This was our first time to Quartzsite.  Al and I don’t have much interest in flea markets, garage sales, or such and thus did not expect Quartzsite to be our cup of tea.  We do have an interest in supplies and equipment for the RV and I always enjoy looking at new Rigs.  So we knew there would be some small part we’d enjoy.

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In the Big Tent – not just RV stuff

There are lots of RV Parks in the area that provide full-hooks, but for us, to be a part of the true Quartzsite experience, that would entail boondocking in the desert……..being self-sufficient, living off the grid, living off the land like a true Pioneer (or with a Wal-Mart 40 miles up the road).  Quartzsite is surrounded by BLM Land (Bureau of Land Management – Federal Land).  As such, it’s available for our enjoyment at no to little cost.

There are areas designated;  Day Use Only, 14 Day camping, and LTV (Long Term Visitor).  14 day camping is free with absolutely no services of any kind.  LTV areas require a fee but provide dump and trash service.  The roads and trails are open to ATV’s and 4×4’s.

The Escapees RV Club – The Boomers, set up Boomerville in a 14 day camping parcel of land.  We have our own community complete with organized activities.  During the two-week period, 129 RV’s passed through Boomerville.  We arrived to this gathering knowing a total of two couples.  By the end of our stay, we were no longer newbies and were acquainted with dozens of couples.

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Boomerville

We explore the town and vendors several days before the start of the tent sale.  Al and I think, “Hey, this isn’t so crowded”.  We wonder if we’re missing anything.  AND then, they started showing up.  A line of RV’s exiting Interstate 10 continued for days.  Each day more and more RV’s pulled into Quartzsite, some of which headed to Boomerville.  Al and I used to live on the outskirts of Boomerville and now we were surrounded by neighbors.  As the two weeks progressed, neighbors came and neighbors went.  Most folks stay for a much shorter time frame than the full 2 week period.

Traffic in town went from small town traffic to city stop and go.  Parking at times was a challenge.  The first 3 days of the tent sale brought elbow to elbow crowds.  We went out to dinner at a local bar for a Friday night fish fry with friends and waited to be seated for an hour.  The fish was good, I’m just not sure it was worth the wait.

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Yep, need a couple of little parts.

Al and I returned to the Big Tent on Sunday the 27th, the last day of the event.  No crowds.  Some but few deals.  Burned out merchants.  Some vendors were already starting to pack up.  We ate some of the best pulled pork and chicken for lunch.  No waiting, no crowds!  It was awesome.  We bought a couple of things we needed but manly browsed.  The day before had brought rain which kept us rig bound.  So it was nice to get out and about and enjoy a gorgeous day of sunshine and a little shopping.

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More stuff I don’t need!

Quartzsite

Still more stuff I don’t need

Al and I had a great Quartzsite experience.  Is it for everyone?  Nope.  Would we do it again?  Yes.  What was the best part of our experience?  Friendship.  How long did we stay?  Sixteen days……shhhh, don’t tell anyone we stayed two days longer than alloted.  That inital five-day stay we thought would be plenty, turned into sixteen and with the exception of a few cold days and one day of rain, the weather was very agreeable.

We took the rig into town twice to dump the tanks, take on fresh water, fill up propane, and purchase gasoline for the generator.  All and all our boondocking capabilities are improving and we had an immensely good time.  More tales to follow!

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Every RV needs an aquarium with turtles!!!

 

The Quartzsite Experience

The “Quartzsite experience” had never been on our must do list, but after several recommendations and urgings from friends we decide it’s a go.  Besides we didn’t have any other immediate plans in mind.  Initially we thought, “Okay, after 5 days we’ll leave.  That’ll probably be plenty of time to witness this unique place.”  RV

The first couple of days were fine.  The weather was sunny and in the 60’s.  There were about fifteen RV’s already set up with our group – Escapees RV Club, the Boomers.  Al and I pick a spot somewhat removed.  We like a little space, but am told we won’t be alone for long as more and more RVs arrive.  Travel

We decide what Boomer activities we care to participate in, if any.  We drive around town locating stores, restaurants, and laundromats.  In less than thirty minutes we get acclimated to this small desert town.  We locate the Big Tent for the big sale.  We peruse the numerous vendors already set up prior to the official start of the sale.travel

TravelMid-week the cold rolls in.  Daytime temps barely hit 50 and night time lows are freezing…..burrrrrr!  Add in a little wind for drama and fun is not in the equation.  Al and I get on the internet in search of better weather.  Gosh even Mexico is freezing and by the time we could get to Florida the cold will have moved on.  So we hunker down and wait for several days before fair weather is once again upon us……ahhhh.

Over the next couple of weeks, Al and I attend numerous Boomer events; morning walk, wine tasting, pancake breakfast, happy hours.  We gather with others for a game night here and there.  We caravan with a group to a unique bar located out in the boonies of the desert.  AND we search out some alone time.  Yes, there is such a thing as social burnout, but it’s been a fabulous experience.  One we hope to repeat.

travel We had the pleasure of meeting folks from around the country.  New friend, Edie and I both enjoy photography.  We meet up one morning and traipse through the desert in search of photo ops.  We spend over two hours wandering around the desert talking and taking pictures.  So engrossed in snapping and chatting, I was thankful the vista was vast and the white RV’s remained in site or no doubt we would have easily gotten lost.  This was a fun way to spend a morning.travel

adventureIt was these encounters, the forging of old and new friendships that MADE our Quartzsite experience.  The RVing community is just that…..a community.  We share a common bond, the bond of adventure.  You have to have a sense of adventure to really embrace and enjoy this lifestyle.  There are those that need full hook-ups making living as close to a sticks n brick home as possible and there are those that choose to dry-camp/boondock almost exclusively making for a remote camp like experience.

Al and I like both and usually split our time between the two experiences.  When we leave the Quartzsite desert Friday, we’ll head back to a Regional Park just north of Phoenix.  We’ll enjoy the conveniences of hook-ups and a bathhouse with lots and lots of hot water.  Even Bear will relish a long hot shower with lots of doggy shampoo.  Till then, we’ll relish friendships and amazing and vast scenery.

Next I’ll post about the eclectic mix of the town of Quartzsite itself.

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Boomerville……our desert RV community!

Where’d She Go?

QuartzsiteWhere’s Waldo Ingrid.  So where have I been?  Why haven’t I posted in 3 weeks?  First, I’ve been running around the back country of the desert southwest where internet service can be a challenge.  Second, because of internet problems, I’ve been on a blogging time-out.

Hubby was concerned for the safety of our internet “jet pack” as my frustrations with its performance grew.  “Put the mouse down, step away from the computer, and no one will get hurt”.  I think you get the picture!

The break was needed and although our internet is still somewhat intermittent, I’m learning to work with it and accept its short comings.Quartzsite

When my day starts with a sky like this, what’s there to get upset about anyway?  So back to where am I?  I’ve been boondocking in the desert outside of Quartzsite, Arizona since January 14th.  Quartzsite

We came here with friends we met last year at Lost Dutchman State Park.   We’ve managed to stay in touch via internet, and with their encouragement we decide to experience Quartzsite first hand.  And yes, it is an experience.

QZ1 016Imagine a sleepy little town in the middle of the desert with a population of about 3,000 invaded by hundreds of thousands of RVer’s from around the world.  Seriously, this is not an exaggeration.  The last two weeks of January is the annual RV Tent Sale followed by the yearly Gem Show.

Vendors from around the country come to Quartzsite, AZ to set up their tents and sell whatever, and I mean “whatever”.

RVingAl and I do a little shopping, but more looking.  It’s an eclectic mix of County Fair meets Rummage/Garage Sale.  My neighbor for the past ten days, Cheryl of Life in a Canned Ham did an interesting post with some unique photos.  RV Blogging buddy Mona Liza of The Lowe’s RV Adventure did an informative post with plenty of photos showing the festive activities that bring folks back to Quartzsite year after year.  Great job ladies and it was a pleasure hanging out!RVing

RVingWe are members of the Escapees RV Club and members of the “Boomers”, a club within a club.  As members of the Boomers, we join fellow Boomers in a remote parcel of desert land to the southeast of Quartzsite, which quickly becomes Boomerville.  Al and I are one of the first to show up to the party and most likely one of the last to leave.

Over the ‘official’ two week Boomerang are various organized get togethers, discussions, activities, and general hanging out and visiting with like-minded folk.  There’s an easy-up tent canopy with postings of all the days activities and a book to sign in to track the number of visitors.  This year 129 RVer’s passed through Boomerville.  Some, like moi, stay the entire two weeks (then some) while others stay only a night or two.Escapees

RVingRVingIt’s been a fun and active filled two weeks.  We reconnected with old friends and made lots of new friends, and although we all follow different paths our common thread is love of this adventurous lifestyle.  We like to think of ourselves as modern-day Pioneers, but with all the comforts of modern-day.  Most of us can forgo a daily shower but NOT our internet.

With the exception of a group of mom’s with little one’s, this is the only group of people I know of that talk openly about bathroom and shower habits.  It’s almost like a competition of sorts.  Al comments, “We can go 8 days without going to the dump station”.   Joe says, “Hey we can go 2 weeks”.  Then Steve proudly pipes in, “I got ya all beat.  We’ve gone as long as 17 days”.  “Wow, 17 days and ya didn’t run out of water or fill up your holding tanks?  Quite impressive!”

I ponder……impressive???  Something smells fishy or rather stinky to me.  Being self-reliant / self-contained can be interesting.  On that note, it’s time to let the “jet pack” rest.RVing

Quartzsite

Friends Old and New…

Our site here at Lake Pleasant is turning out to be one of my favorites on our adventure thus far.  You can’t get much closer to the lake without being on the lake.  Yesterday was a perfect day.  We settled into this new location by enjoying the warm sun and the light lake breezes.  The evening was spent around a campfire and stargazing while enjoying a glass of red wine.There’s only three other RV’s parked near us and we make friends with the folks in the two other 5th wheels.The folks in the 5th wheel to the right are snowbirders from Washington State.  They start their three-month escape from the northwest in January at Quartzsite.  We found this couple very entertaining, warm, and engaging.  We had an immediate connection when we realized we were all involved in the aviation industry at some point in our former careers.  We spent an evening exchanging stories over a roaring campfire.

The couple in the 5th wheel on the far left have been full-timers for fourteen years and are formally from areas in Wisconsin and Minnesota that Al and I would vacation near.  Once again, we find a common thread and the conversations are so very enjoyable.During our conversation around the campfire with the folks from Washington, we get on the subject of solar power, batteries, and propane heaters.  We embarked on this trip with factory equipment in the RV and our Honda 2000 generator.  We knew from the start one battery would be a challenge but somehow we’d manage.  These new friends invite us over to their rig the next morning.  With notebook in hand, Al and I spend over two hours getting educated on solar, batteries, etc.  How very gracious of these folks and very enlightening.

We also learned a bit more about these new friends.  Not only are they world travelers, they also enjoy frequenting clothing optional locations.  I admire their confidence, adventuress, self-assured, and warm nature.  We hope to meet up with these folks again, perhaps in Quartzsite next January….. with our clothes on, of course  🙂

The couple from the midwest was equally as helpful and warm.  They also shared information on Escapees and informed us on an upcoming get together at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, AZ.  Our last evening at Lake Pleasant is spent laughing around a campfire.  We usually avoid discussing politics or religion, especially with folks we just met.  However, our views on these matters appeared to be similar and very little was held back….very logical and opinionated exchange.  This was so much fun, stimulating, and thought producing.  Hope to run into these folks again and continue the discussion where we left off.

Mid week, we had long time friends join us for dinner and drinks around the campfire.  We’ve know this couple for close to thirty years (boy, when I

Long time friends

say that, it makes me feel old).  They’ve lived in the Phoenix area fifteen plus years, and we always make it a point to arrange at least one get together with them on our travels around Phoenix.  We try to schedule a hike at Usery Park with them, but run into conflicting schedules.

Our son also joined us twice during our stay.  We always cherish the time spent with him.

Al, Ingrid & Son

The original plan was to stay at Lake Pleasant for a couple, three nights at the most, but in the end…. turned into a nine-day wonderful stay.  Lake front property at it’s best!  Who could resist?

Lake Havasu City

Al and I have wanted to visit Lake Havasu for quite sometime.  We also wanted to check out Quartzsite, AZ.  With no firm plans or commitments, we depart Desert Edge’s RV and head to Interstate 10, westward bound.

on the road again!

We stop in Quartzsite for gas and I hop into the Rig, make us a couple of sandwiches, take Bear for a short walk, and after eating check the place out.  Quartzsite is an interesting, eclectic sort of place.  The RV parks are jam packed this time of year.  So we decide to head north on Hwy 95 toward Havasu and make several notes about the Quartzsite area for next winters excursion.

Lake Havasu City is loaded with RV Parks and just outside of town are numerous spots to boondock.  It is a playground mecca for adults.  There are endless places for ATV/Four Wheeling.  All sorts of water activities are available from boating, jet skiing, sailing, paddling, etc.  If you don’t have your own toys, there are dozens of places to rent the toy of choice.

Lake Havasu

We want to camp as close to the water as possible and pick Crazy Horse Campground to spend a few nights.  Fortunately for us, the campground is all booked up and we are sent to their overflow lot.

Our home for five days

When I say we were fortunate the campground was booked, I sincerely mean fortunate.  The RV’s in the campground are packed in like Sardines.  Hardly enough elbow room between units…..not my cup of tea!  The overflow lot overlooks the lake and there’s plenty of room for everyone.  The ATV trails provide excellent hiking for Bear and me, that is, until all the ATVer’s show up.

young girl on her ATV near our site

Saturday some young kids have fun tooling around on their four-wheelers.  They drive slow and responsibly and we’re not bothered by their activities.  It’s nice to see kids being kids and playing out in the dirt instead of sitting in front of a computer/TV screen.

Although I would not recommend Crazy Horse Campground, I would recommend staying in their overflow lot.  The Campground is old, the staff and guests were less than friendly, but the location is awesome.  We were able to walk to the famous London Bridge and stores.

London Bridge

The RV Park is on an island/peninsula and we need to cross the London Bridge for access.  The shoreline along the island and mainland is a lovely park setting with walking trails, a dog park, marina, beaches, and picnic areas.  Lake Havasu City was developed by Robert McCulloch in 1963 on the eastern shore of Lake Havasu.  He later purchased the London Bridge, which was dismantled and shipped to Lake Havasu City.  It was completed in 1971 and connects the peninsula to the mainland.

activities of all kind!

Al and I take advantage of the beautiful, sunny weather and walk the London Bridge and shoreline.

If you can think it, they do it!

Later back at the campsite, we are buzzed by what I call flying lawn mowers.  There are about half a dozen buzzing around and Al is totally infatuated.  I believe the proper term is powered gliders and Al is ready to return to the skies.  Yeah right, I don’t think so!  Although Al does not

powered glider

miss his commercial aviation days, he does occasionally miss those daring Navy missions and flying on and off an aircraft carrier.  Aah, to be young again!

I leave Al to his thoughts and have him build me a campfire while I prepare dinner.