Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Our Final Weeks of Fun in the Quartzsite, AZ Sun

So little time left, so much to do!

We had spectacular weather, so we hopped on Maximus and Yellowjacket for a ride along the Colorado River. We traveled first on the CA side, taking in the scenery in towns like Blue Water and Earp.

We disembarked the bikes at the Crossroads Back Country Byway to do some hiking and to search out the wild burros who reside in the area. Our efforts were rewarded with several sightings, and the burros were quite accommodating for a photo shoot.

Coming back along the AZ border, we stopped for a late lunch at the Pirates’ Den. What a great place! The furnishings inside and out certainly keep with the theme—so much so you expected Captain Hook to be the maître de. The menu included a portabella mushroom/veggie entrée to meet Dad’s plant-based diet. It sounded so enticing, Mom/I ordered it as well. It did not disappoint; it was simply delicious. We had riverfront seating, which provided perfect ambiance—until the avian moochers arrived. But, I found their stealth moves quite amusing.

The birds were quite calculating, stealing food after the dinner guests left, but before the staff came to clean the table.

We traveled to Yuma one final time.

Little chapel on AZ 95 in Yuma that I always like to visit.  Usually, there is farm equipment and/or hay bales surrounding it, so conditions for good photos are not optimal, but this time was a winner.

We went to visit the Territorial Prison, something we have wanted to do many times, but never got around to it. We learned from Smokey, the interpretive guide, that the penitentiary opened in 1876. Locating the territorial prison in Yuma came about through the slyness of Territorial Legislator Jose Maria Redondo. You see, Phoenix was named as the location when the prison bill was originally proposed. Legislators discussed the bill as proposed and agreed to take the vote to pass the proposal after their lunch break. But while other legislators were dining, Redondo stayed behind, crossed out “Phoenix” and inserted “Yuma” as the location within the proposed legislation. Anxious to move on to other business, the legislators returned from lunch and voted to approve the bill for a territorial prison. None of them realized until AFTER the vote that the proposed location had been changed to Yuma. The Prison was in operation until 1909, and it housed about 3,000 criminals (including 29 women) through its history. Inmates referred to the prison as “The Hell Hole” since they were packed 6 to a cell and only got to bathe once/week. But the local citizens residing in this dusty, desert town referred to it as “The Country Club on the Colorado” because the Prison had more modern amenities than anywhere else in the area: electricity, running water, and even a library containing the most books within the entire Territory! What an interesting tour! So glad we finally visited the Yuma Territorial Prison.

Due to encroachment by the railroad, the prison grounds today are a fraction of what they were.


Dad looks like he would fit right in with this crowd!  

The Yuma Territorial Prison Museum grounds overlook the Colorado River State Historic Park. Interestingly, this Park contains a section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. We would have liked to hike a bit of this trail since we traversed different sections of it during our visits to Tubac in prior years. Unfortunately, our schedule did not afford us this luxury. 

Instead, we were off to enjoy another Howling at the Moon. Also known as “Senior Kegger”, Howling is a fun-filled day of food, music, and dancing that culminates with the rising of the moon. The Cassandra Long Band played pure country her first set, lending us to do several line dances. She then segued into 80s (my Mom’s preferred genre), with new wave hits like “Love Shack” by B-52s and “Rock This Town” by Stray Cats. We had a blast going back to the past. After break, she dived into a disco medley, which we didn’t enjoy as much (after all, Mom was never a disco queen and Dad never had any fever on Saturday night.) The moon played hide and seek, and all the howling in the world was not bringing it out from behind the cloud cover. It was not until ½ hour later as we were driving home that the moon peeked out for a few minutes.

2023 was the first time in 8 years that we didn’t get together with friends Bob/Marie, with whom we work-camped in 2015 at Crazy Horse Memorial in SD. Dad’s heart surgery in 2023 precluded us from traveling to AZ, and sadly, Bob passed away in May from a very short battle with aggressive pancreatic cancer. So, it was important for us to resume our tradition with Marie. Over lunch, we chatted about old times, recent happenings in our lives, and Marie’s future plans. As always, it was a wonderful visit, and we all felt Bob was with us in spirit.

After attending 2 hours/day of line dance lessons twice/week and evening dances 2-3 times weekly at various venues the past 8 weeks, our dogs were barking! 

Class is always so much more fun when Lisa, our Dancing Unicorn, joins us!

We are so fortunate that our instructor joins us all for fun at the evening dances.

Members of the Skyhawk Band who played each Friday at the Senior Center

Smokin Joe, L.D. (not pictured), and Millie are the musical talent at JR's RV Park dances.

But it was all in preparation for March Madness, Quartzsite’s full-day line dance extravaganza hosted by our instructor, Vernine. What a blast to see 100+ line dancers converge in Quartzsite for an unparalleled day of fun for our feet!

Our Quartzsite Line Dancing Group grows larger each year!  Notice I am front and center!
Check out my video of the Dance Madness:

I hosted another Rambling RV Rat Desert Party for all our dance buddies. Mom brought out her full blown Italian, putting out a nice spread: beef nacho skillet, sausage/peppers/onions, Mediterranean pasta salad, sesame chicken/rice, and a well-received couscous salad, plus special entrees for guests like Dad who subscribe to plant-based diets. She topped it off with 4 home-baked desserts. Everyone had an awesome time, enjoyed the eats, and Mom has maintained her record as a mediocre cook: she still has not poisoned anyone! 

Me (can you find me?) with my peeps!

We enjoyed sharing good food and fellowship with Pastor Randy and several congregants of the Cowboy Desert Church, where we have been attending services during our time in Quartzsite.

The Quartzsite Improvement Association held a memorial for Paul Winer, prominent Quartzsite resident. Known to most as the “Naked Bookseller”, Paul was also a gifted musician who played boogie-woogie on the piano keys like few others (particularly since he did it naked!). Since we were unable to attend the memorial, we found participating in the clean-up at Celia’s Rainbow Gardens a fitting alternative to remembering Paul. You see, Celia was Paul’s daughter. She was born prematurely, weighing only 1.25 lbs. But miraculously, she survived and thrived. Sadly, she died in her 8th year from a viral infection that attacked her heart. The gardens were established by Paul, wife Joanne, and the town of Quartzsite in loving memory of Celia.

Me, Dad, and the Naked Bookseller, circa 2016.  Mom knitted me a "hot dog bun" to match the one Paul wore!

Dad busy cleaning up while Mom's goofing off taking photos (which is ironic, since Mom handled all the landscaping/gardening at our home)

One of the memorials within Celia's Rainbow Gardens.

We visited the General Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco Summit, CA in 2016 (which I highly recommend), but just recently got around to visiting the Museum and Array Office in Bouse. Though small in size, this museum is fascinating, and it even has an informative film! Spanning 18,000 square miles within the Mohave Desert was the Desert Training Center used by General Patton to train troops for battle in the North African sector of World War II. Camp Bouse was 1 of 12 camps established within the Desert Training Center. Though enduring stark living conditions and long hours of training, the troops at each camp would do their best to make their camp like “home”. Thus, they would adorn the camps with rock art (much of which you can still see today in various areas.)

While at the Museum, we logged a geocache (the only one this season since we sold Rat Patrol II, our Polaris RZR side by side and our swivel wheel), and then we visited the Farmer’s market. Afterwards, we headed to Parker to complete errands, partake of another great lunch at the Pirates’ Den, and enjoy another Kelly Hughes Desert Pop Up Party out on Shea Road.

We attended the 5th Annual Buck Connors Western Days at the Quartzsite Municipal Park on Friday and Saturday, March 15-16. George W. Connor or "Buck" as he became known, was born in 1880 and was one of Quartzsite's colorful pioneers.  He was a jack of all trades: from military service to acting career, from airstrip builder to ordained minister.  The weather gods were not kind on Friday, causing most of the Festival's musical entertainment to get canceled. Saturday offered much better skies, and a good time was had by all of us there.

Soon it was time to depart Quartzsite to resume our travels. Goodbye to you: our pickleball playmates, our dance instructor, the band members who entertain us each week at each venue, the friends who frequent the evening dances with us, Melania (thanks for saving a spot for us), and all our Tyson Wash neighbors, especially my buddy, the pokey little puppy Blue. God willing, we will see y’all next year!

Blue, our desert neighbor Dave's pokey little puppy.   Dave says Blue suffers from ADHD.   When Dave isn't looking, Blue wanders over to all our campsites in search of new entertainment.

Blue was bummed out when he realized we were leaving!

I bid adieu to you, too.  Enjoy these last photos of my beautiful Quartzsite desert!

1 comment:

  1. Another busy season done. Pirates Den is a favourite of ours too. To bad the moon didn’t cooperate for you at the Howling, but it’s a fun event regardless. Safe travels!