"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

May 28, 2017

East of Eden

Arizona is another state which swallowed me up for over a month. Many of these photos don't need explanation, so I'll just chat while you look.

Following Palm Springs and the Salton Sea, my first stop in Arizona was to a place which has been recommended numerous times as a cheap, if not free, place to park in the desert: Quartzsite. Apparently it's quite a popular place where retirees stay warm in their RVs during the winter months.
Maybe I just didn't give it enough time, but it was plenty for me to keep going after grabbing a bag of ice. You can park on prime government land...
...or choose to be closer to the amenities in town.

No, thanks, although I hear that each January there's a Winnebago Warrior jamboree, if I've a mind. Following that diversion I headed towards Phoenix to visit Dad's grave, my first time ever. Dad was raised a Catholic but converted to Christian Science as an adult; so when he passed in 1986 his sister asked Mom if she could take Dad's ashes back to Phoenix to be buried in holy ground next to her (eventually) and Uncle George.
From there I did my ziplining-thing; then headed south to Tuscon and perhaps stay for a month to center myself a bit and decide on my next steps. But the temperature was souring and Tuscon, nice as it was, just seemed another sprawling city in the desert. I was looking for something smaller, but as long as I was there I drove through the Saguaro National Park.
The rains in California in January and February made their way east to Arizona, and so when I arrived the cacti were in bloom. Nice.

Flat roads were a welcome change from crossing the Rockies, but boredom does set in from time to time, especially since I drive in silence. I must get a stronger antennae one of these days.
Corps of Engineers lakes are few and far between in this part of the country, but I've found another money-saving alternative to the increasing price of RVing:  Passport America.  In a nutshell, participating RV parks offer up to 50% discounts, usually during their slower times. 
The site offers easy-to-find listings with prices and limitations (ex: 3 nights max; no holiday weekends). I'm staying in a place right now which normally charges $28 a night for full hookups; $22.50 for AAA and AARP or $13.50 for Passport America. Doesn't take long to recoup the $44 membership fee, you can imagine. 

Heading back north I stopped to visit the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to get my National Park Service Passbook stamped, as well as soak up some history. This Great House was once a communal structure and remains the only example of a multi-story structure from the Hohokam culture.

Soak up is apropos, considering I wake up each morning looking like a Turkish fig. Keeping BC and me hydrated is never far from thought.
I just can't stop being a gourd artist, I thought as I passed the gourd farm sign and turned to double back. The Wuertz Gourd Farm is very nicely organized to select your gourds without walking miles. Great prices, too.
My hands kill me after working with gourds but I can't help myself. Roosters have become a common theme, and for the 4th of July I've created my own Cockle Doodle Dandy. Look for this and smaller versions on my Etsy store, or write to me. Special orders are always welcome!
My cousin in Phoenix mentioned I might like to visit Wickenburg, and since Penpal Rick was planning to camp (as in roughing-it with a tent) in the wilderness outside of Wickenburg I thought perhaps Providence was giving me a slight push.
What a darling town, and with a charming old-West flair. I stayed for a month at the Desert Cypress park, and except for being paranoid about rattlesnakes I loved every minute. 90% of the Snow Birds had already retreated to their northern homes before the temperature hits 120 degrees.
The first place I visited was the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, which was having a special exhibit of Western women artists. Of course I sprung for the entrance fee, and I was right in assuming I would go away inspired. Switching gears here...
My tiny home can't even tow a half-car, so to allow myself a bit of freedom I finally settled on a folding bicycle with collapsible dog bicycle trailer for BC, laundry, groceries or whatever. I acclimated BC to the trailer alone at Ms. Vickie's in Houston last October (the wheels come off), but I haven't really had a flat, largely auto-less environment to test my strength pulling what good friends call Sausage-Dog. Until Wickenburg.
Piece of cake! Just to explain a bit, BC is in a harness which is clipped to an inside strap, allowing her to move about but not jump out. That theory has yet to be tested, but when the bike fell over and the cart did not (another selling feature), my confidence increased even more. There is a screen with an opening which zips down so that only BC's head pokes through, but it was so hot and she was so good that I decided to try out her 'convertible'. As Cousin Ray once declared, 
"When I die, I want to come back as your dog!" 
I wrote myself a list of the things I'd accomplished during the month; and even though I can't find the list, it was therapeutic to see how much I actually to get done.  But now where to go; what to do?

 While at the Leaf Verde RV park in Buckeye, AZ, a man told me about the website Workampers.com. which has information on working in exchange for an RV space or some other arrangement both full and part time. I wasn't interested in committing myself to a long-term position such as Camp Host for a season; even at one of the Corps lakes I so enjoy, but eventually I took a peek.
Feeling like Moses wandering through the wilderness, I eventually found my way out via a volunteer position in Texas, which is where I'm heading now. The where, whats and whens will wait until I've gotten my feet wet , but I feel confident I'm heading right where I'm meant to be.
As long as I was in the general neighborhood, I took the time to revisit my old stompin' grounds of many years ago, including White Sands Missile Range, the White Sands National Monument, and all the nothingness in-between. In my opinion the Organ Mountains, above, are best seen from the access road to the range so I turned off to take some shots.  Unfortunately the sky was cloudy, but it sure made driving easier.
Las Cruces is sprawling its way ever closer to the top of the overpass and El Paso developments line the border of Ft. Bliss.  I expected to be disappointed in the region's progress but I wasn't really. I've no intention of living there again, plus I guess I've learned.

But while being blown from Alalmogordo to El Paso in winds rivaling Nebraska and California I considered the federally protected gypsum dunes, the mountains and even the seemingly barren desert protected from developers, oddly enough, through these military institutions.
Nice that some things don't really change.

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Original gourd art designs Copyright 2020 Andrea Jansen Designs. Please write for permission.



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