Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Everyone wants waterfront property

I returned to Quartzsite long enough to rejoin some friends and relocate to a much different and less hectic place. We’re on the edge of a wildlife preserve right on the Colorado River. And it’s free.

Locals call it the Hippie Hole, because people sometimes come out here to party. Unfortunately, there’s evidence of that. Trash, a smashed boom box... We hope the presence of us old farts will keep the riffraff away.

On the up side, the wildlife doesn’t care where the preserve boundaries are, so we have waterfowl, fish and other creatures we didn’t have out in our desert campsite. And we’re only forty miles away. About 30 as the egret flies.

That night we had some unexpected drama. We were sitting around the campfire near the water’s edge, feeling mellow, when there was a hissing in the fire. 

“Oh, that’s just trapped moisture escaping from one of the logs,” someone conjectured.

Moments later, someone with a flashlight said, “Um, there’s water in the fire ring.”

Uh-oh. The river was rising. Water was rather close to some of our vans. We had no idea how much farther the river would rise. So there was some quick relocation to higher ground, including the hooking up of trailers. Well, bummer.

Since I tend to awaken several times a night anyway, I checked the water level a few times. It encroached a few feet more, but we were well out of range. In the morning, the level was below when we first arrived.

Our location is between Parker Dam and Imperial Dam, in the middle of a region of vast irrigation canals. So the level of the Colorado River is subject to the opening and closing of any number of gates. When we re-relocated this morning, we looked for signs high water levels. Some of my companions were more optimistic than me.


  1. Roll up your jeans.
    Gail and I wonder how you are finding campsite costs.
    Free? $10? $20? 30?

  2. Not just rolled up jeans. Shorts and sandals. WooT, we're at the beach, and the weather is cooperating.

    We try to camp free as much as possible. The benefit of knowing other van dwellers is that word spreads of good places to camp. Campsite costs vary. For example, California state parks along the coast run about $45/night for sites with tables, faire rings, water, bathrooms and showers.Sites with RV hookups are more. Meanwhile, campsites at Joshua Tree National Park are $10 to $15/night for sites with tables, fire rings and vault toilets, no water. A mile from where we're currently camped is a state run campground that's park of a regional camping pass program where for $75/year you can camp at several places. And there are the BLM-run Long Term Visitor Areas where a $180 season pass allows you to use any of the several LTVAs in AZ and CA from September through March. Or there's the less attractive deal of $40 for two weeks. But if you don't need water and dump stations, there's free BLM land nearby with the usual 14-day limit.