Sunday, October 20, 2013

Since last we met

There I was in St. George, Utah, with drizzle coming down. Eh, no fun. Besides, the library there has the slowest net connection since dial-up. Time to hit the road again.

Things were worse when I passed through Flagstaff. Icy winds. Snow on the ground. More on the way. Winter travel warnings.

Driving down I-17 took me to lower latitudes and altitudes. And higher happiness. Ah, the joys of driving with the window open again.

I stayed two days at a boondocking site near Wickenburg, AZ even though I got a little self-creeped out. It’s one thing to be alone out in the middle of nowhere, where people who might cause trouble are far away. It’s another to be alone on the edge of town in a place that looks like locals might come to get high. The first evening a truck cruised slowly through just before sundown. The next night a different truck cruised through at about 11 PM. Nothing happened, but it made me anxious.

I spent the next night in a county campground on the Colorado River, just outside Blythe, CA. I was surrounded by boaters, but felt totally secure. But $24 a night can get spendy quickly.

Across the river and up the hill from Blythe is Quartzsite, AZ, which is a hub of the snowbird RV universe. Vast stretches of flat, firm desert where there’s plenty of room to park big RVs. Free. And nice winter weather. It’s also a rockhound mecca. 

Between Blythe and Quartzsite is Ehrenburg, AZ. A smaller place for smaller rigs. I spent a couple of nights there, between a truck stop and a gravel pit. Mmmm, beauty.

Looks like a bush inside a bush.

Next was a visit to Los Algodones, Mexico. Its claim to fame is cheap, fast, decent quality dental and optical clinics. And low cost prescription drugs. Without a prescription. I got an eye exam and two sets of continuous bifocal lenses mounted in my old frames for $240, and in less than four hours.

The Quechan Indian casino is just two miles from the border, on the US side. They let truckers and RVers overnight in their parking lot. So I stayed there while visiting Los Algodones. I was next to a Canadian couple. We swapped stories about the horrors of winters there.

Perhaps one of the more famous/infamous boondocking sites is Slab City, by the Salton Sea. Reading about the place ten years or so ago planted the seed for my current life. So, naturally, I had to go there. Opinions of the place, and reports of its safety (or lack thereof) vary.  I took a nap there but didn’t stay the night.

At the entrance to Slab City is Salvation Mountain, the work of Leonard Knight. He’s too old and ill to work on his colossal art/religious piece anymore, so others are trying to maintain the place.

One cannot pass through the Southern California desert without paying homage to the Cabazon dinosaurs. Their fate is also uncertain since the restaurant that owned them has gone bankrupt.

I'd had my fill of desert for a while, so I pushed on to the coast. Oh, wait, the beach is a desert, too. Only with water. And people. It wasn't exactly beach weather, though, along the Orange County coast.

I made my first attempt at urban stealth camping, though. Where in Orange County can one get away with sleeping in a vehicle? I know, visitors' parking at Hoag Memorial Hospital.

Since the beach was fogged in, I skipped more time there and went to my dear ex-wife’s place in Los Angeles, from where I'm writing this. Among other things, she’s an advocate and educator for urban beekeeping. Today was “Bee Church” out in Simi Valley. I went along to learn more about bees and to add something to my life experiences. I did not get stung.

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