Quartzsite: Frozen Eggs and Giant Freezers

It has now been a year since moving to the snowbird nesting home of Quartzsite, Arizona. Also known as the final resting place of Hi Jolly, the man who immigrated to help Uncle Sam’s Camel Corps work on a daily basis, this desert “oasis” for the elderly is interesting to say the least.

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It has now been a year since moving to the snowbird nesting home of Quartzsite, Arizona. Also known as the final resting place of Hi Jolly, the man who immigrated to help Uncle Sam’s Camel Corps work on a daily basis, this desert “oasis” for the elderly is interesting to say the least.  In many ways the phrase second childhood could apply to most of the temporary denizens of this RV wonderland.

In retrospect, the area is much colder in January 2016 than last year’s winter chill. A head start in the latter days of December 2015 with temperatures that dipped below freezing on a regular basis in the night,  cold has taken on new meaning. Not only that but it has also changed the purpose of certain items.

Most notable, the humble refrigerator was transformed into  giant freezer. Every single liquid item, including eggs, became solid examples of their natural state.  Green tea, bottled water, a “bag” of vegetable soup, milk, an energy drink and 10 eggs all were transformed into rock hard immoveable objects.

The eggs did have web-like cracks over the ice cold shells.  After hoping on the Internet to double-check, it was found that one could cook once frozen eggs without fear of contracting botulism or salmonella.  At least according to numerous websites, unless the raw eggs were stored in an device crawling with harmful bacteria, the icy yolks and whites could be thawed and cooked.

After moving the carton of ice-eggs to another fridge, one that was not altered by the constant lower temperature of under 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they became somewhat less frozen, and more “slushy-like” and able to be cooked.  These frozen eggs fried up nicely, in a bit of oil, and tasted “normal” on bits of toast.

It has been discovered that the main fridge is still operating as a giant freezer…All liquid denizens are still icy and hard as a rock, with the exception of a partially filled plastic jug of apple juice. Just why the juice has not become one with the cold and, at the very least, turned into a sort of icy sludge, is not known.

If one Googles the answer, it appears that apple juice contains more sugar and this keeps the freezing rate pretty well contained. As fascinating as all this is, the one thing that the intense, and unusual, cold has not changed, is the amount of Snowbirds flocking into Quartzsite in the New Year.

2016 has seen a massive influx of these geriatric teenagers and  octogenarian young oldsters.  The vendors have doubled and tripled in sized and scope in the last few weeks and the legion of RVs, ATVs and motorbikes have quadrupled. Outside the tents, where one can buy anything from cool sunglasses to various kitchen utensils, a plethora of vehicles now rest, temporarily, while their aged drivers waddle, limp and trot throughout the vendors wares on offer.

There is also an increase in the desert rat brigade, the hippies and love children, not, apparently the same thing, and beggars line the entrances, when the sun shines, of fast-food eateries along the main drag as well as outside the General and Dollar Store.

As a point of interest, these grubby and lost individuals have been forced to move on from a  facility that contains an ATM. This does not stop buskers (musicians) from playing their instruments for change until being moved on by the shop or restaurant owners.

There are those who seem to beg on a professional basis, one woman sports a new car and a sign which proclaims her need. This professional pan-handler wants money for petrol (gasoline) so she can visit her dying daughter, who suffers from a different ailment each week. She is moved on regularly, even the major personally called the 5-Oh to push her along. .

Of course with the new year just being days old and it still being the weekend, this snowbird paradise is chock-a-block (full to the brim) with both the returning population and those who are passing through. California license plates fill the car parks (parking lots) and each fast food eatery is filled to heaving with the hungry, loud, obnoxious and ill mannered.

Children who will, no doubt, all grow up to be as annoying as the 20 something’s who all appear to suffer from ADD, or ADHD and are incapable of sitting quietly, or still.  They are in good company, as most of the elderly enter the dining areas with hearing aides either turned off or down and seem incapable of carrying on a conversation in decent decibel levels.

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While writing about the indigenous population of Quartzsite, Arizona could become a full-time occupation, the setting sun and dipping temperature mandate an early finish to the working day. Riding a bicycle along roads populated by drivers who have little business being behind the wheel of a peddle tricycle, let alone a huge motorized death machine, is hazardous at best and nerve-wracking to the extreme. All the more so after dark.

In order to arrive alive at home,  do not be deceived this writer has been forced off the road and clipped by an elderly driver before and has almost been hit several times by the same type of vehicle operator, it is prudent to depart while there is enough light for both the driver and the bicyclist to see by.

As the cold weather continues, and the stream of snowbirds, and new vendors, keep pouring in, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

 

Life in the Real Desert: A Day of Rest

Schwinn 700C - my bike

After a busy Saturday spent learning that no one in town really wants to buy anything despite what their signs say and watching the screener of Awaken at Burger King it was decided, by me, to rest on the seventh day of life in the real desert. Although to be quite honest, contrary to what my Facebook post says, I was tired from riding my new bike over 14 miles each and every day for six straight days. The final deciding factor was looking down and seeing bruises on my legs.

While not too concerning, they are the result of taking one of my heart medications, it bothered me enough that I felt Sunday would be best spent writing my review for Awaken, starring Natalie Burn, and possibly writing an article or two as well as posting on my blog.

As with most “best made plans” about the only real thing accomplished was sleeping in and writing the review. Forgetting that the Internet is agonizingly slow out here in the middle of the desert, my plans were waylaid fairly easily. On the plus side, a little RV cleaning was done with the idea that a clean home is a happy home.

This was also a chance to catch up on my Asian cinema DVD collection and watch some old favorites. The Pang Bros’ Recycle, Takeshi Miike’s One Missed Call, and the Korean knock off of Kim Ji-Woon’s Tale of Two Sisters; Epitaph. All of these are films that I can watch over and over. After a triple serving of Asian horror, it was time to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Downey, Kilmer and Monaghan directed by the more than capable Shane Black.

It was interesting to learn that as Quartzsite nears the end of its season, that no one on the main drag wanted to buy a wireless Apple keyboard or magic mouse (hardly used). Of course having to explain to the store owner (“We Buy, Sell, Trade”) what a magic mouse was could have had something to do with it. Although the shop did have laptop carry cases for sale…

The other strike out was a place that buys old coins, gold, antiques etc. Granted, my trip was just to see what sort of offer might be given for an old 1926 silver dollar and a silver 50 cent piece. Turns out, according the the chap who runs the shop, that 1926 was not a “spectacular” year for silver dollars. This meant that the price for the coin was $16. Interesting, but not enough to persuade me to sell this old bit of change.

The guy was not too bothered that I did not want to part with the coin, “After all,” he said, “16 bucks won’t buy a meal at McDonalds these days.” I did not want to argue, but I could have eaten several $1 cheeseburgers over the course of a number of meals. Still, one man’s cheap burger is another man’s super size quarter pounder with cheese.

Apart from checking on whether personal retail really was a possibility in Quartzsite, it was odd to see the town so deserted. In an odd way, the place feels more comfortable, if not safer. The old snowbirds who flock to this town all suffer from diminished driving skills. The fact that they have driven to another area is, overall, a good thing.

Although to be fair, it isn’t just the aged who drive as though they have left their brain at home in the walk-in closet. On one afternoon, while walking to town, I was almost hit by a lorry (a semi in USA speak), an RV who was towing a trailer behind it almost as long as the RV itself, an idiot in a pickup truck who passed another car and came so far toward the other side of the road that I had to leap to safety and some jackass who left so little room between me and the car that a mosquito would have been killed had it tried to fly in the gap.

Other times, there are drivers who refuse to leave a door’s width between their speeding vehicle and my bike. Not too upsetting if they are slowly passing by, but most are hitting around 50 mph. The combination of being way too close and too much speed has, on more than one occasion, almost made my heart leap out of my throat.

The point being that out of all those dangerous drivers mentioned above, none appeared to be over 40.

Still, my day of rest has allowed me to ponder what the summer months will bring and how much I need to set up a routine. Getting up early has never been my thing. I can do so and have but not willingly or well. Still, I now know that I am becoming a “regular” at one fast food place, Burger King, and staff at a lot of shops speak more readily now and will share a little laugh occasionally.

The weird way I speak helps. Having an accent that people mistake for Australian “Throw some shrimp on the barbie and crack open a few tinnies mate,” always helps to make one more memorable. There will obviously come a point where I do not have to explain where the accent comes from and that I was actually born in this country. Until then, it is (pun intended) a talking point which allows me to be that bit more approachable.

My list of things to write about, in the small town of Quartzsite, includes the small empty house on the way to town and the local celebrity (silent film star) who was given a sword by the famous Pancho Villa. There are many other things about life in the real desert which are fascinating and these will also be addressed whilst I write my own stories and continue to seek monetary recompense for articles written.

8 March 2015

Life in the Real Desert: Where Did All the Hippies Go?

Church Sign...After promising to write about all the Navajo-horse-blanket-jacket-wearing hippies who were frequenting Quartzsite in my Life in the Real Desert “series” they all seem to have disappeared. This leaves the question of just where did all these hippies go? There are still a number of Desert Rats hanging around, but that number has dwindled as well.

The hippies were pretty easy to spot. Horse blanket jackets, dreadlocks – regardless of skin color or nationality – a lot of body surface dirt, a tendency to avoid sunblock, no shoes, some pretty “crusty” looking clothes  and they moved in clumps. (The hippies, not their clothing.) Like most members of any particular branch of society, some were friendly and others only wanted a hand out.

One bearded young man, with his wife(?) and two small children drove a station wagon, or an estate if you live across the pond, that had a sign painted on its side asking to be funded in order to allow for a vehicle upgrade. Many locals were/are not too enamored with these throwbacks to the 1960s and 70s “love children.”

This attitude is a little ironic considering that a lot of the vendors who sell their wares in the small burg seem to be remnants of the real deal from back in the day. Tie-dye t-shirts, raggedy trousers or long skirts, again dyed, along with any number of ribbons. Of course just as many of these sellers look like escapees from Cool Hand Luke territory complete with reddened neck and southern drawl.

Like any small community, even one made up of nomadic snowbirds who flock in and out, the “regulars” soon spot a new addition who has stumbled into something resembling citizenship of the town. Example: I sound a bit different when I speak. After years of listening every day to the Queen’s English, both at home and at work, I struggled to maintain my American accent, on my old agent’s advice.

Now that I’m not in that market any longer, my accent has changed to reflect my 32 year background. A young lady at the local Burger King, home of excellent free WiFi, asked about my background and another female worker quickly explained that “he comes in most every day.”

Without missing a beat she turned to me and said, “I just love your accent!” To which I replied, “Why thank you, it took me 32 years to learn.” The point is, that even frequenting a local fast food establishment, recognition comes quickly. As this is a small town, one can expect this familiarity to become a regular occurrence as time goes by.

Quartzsite, three camel sign.
Town sign outside of Burger King

 

Now that I’ve noticed that the hippy contingent has disappeared, the time has come to ask the locals if this is normal. Considering the amount of cold weather, for the desert that is, perhaps they all moved to warmer climates like Mexico for example.

For those who were positioned along the intersections near the highway,cardboard signs grasped and thumbs pointed, the numbers have dwindled until only the odd “rat” is hitching a ride. When I first arrived, one “hippy” had a sign with the destination “Anywhere but here” written on it. Another’s said, “Out of Quartzsite.”

I had talked to one young lady who told me point blank that the town was not friendly and that she’d almost gotten in a fight at the local food bank. Not for her, she said, she was sticking up for an elderly lady. As a result, she lost the vittles collected for her and a friend. The twenty-something woman stressed that Quartzsite would not be on their list of places to visit next year.

This information has already been passed along in an earlier article but bears repeating considering the lack of “flower children” in the town. It seems a shame that they’ve disappeared. There was a group who hung out in the shade of a local “hardware” store. They interacted with an old soul, who had a broken leg, that had staked out the shade of a solitary tree on the same lot.

The young people sat in the dirt and sand, eating what they had scrounged and chatted amiably amongst themselves. Speaking, if spoken to and not behaving in a threatening manner at all. Quite unlike the Desert Rats who can be, at first glance, a bit intimidating to the older snowbirds in town.

One Desert Rat dresses like a modern day Robinson Crusoe. On his head is a sort of crumpled tri-corner hat, obviously self-made. He wears a khaki jacket,  what looks like either a skirt or jeans with the legs split open and combat boots. He has black hair and a black beard shaped into a long point, it actually looks like something the devil would sport.

He has some sort of bag, or wrap, around his middle that he keeps covered from the sun. His skin is the color of old teak and mahogany and only the lightness of this legs give clue to his being caucasian in origin. A fascinating chap to look at and one that many people moved away from as he approached. Being on the opposite side the main street, I could not tell if it was appearance or odor which made him an object to be shunned.

Highway running past Quartzsite
On the road again?

 

The Hippies, or travelers as I prefer to think of them, may have disappeared for now and while I have no idea where they have gone, I do miss them. They were all young and seemed to be pretty much carefree. The young wives or girlfriends were pretty and friendly and did not disturb anyone that I could see. Perhaps they will be back.

Until then, once I put together my replacement bike, which could take some time since there is a wheel nut that does not want to loosen, I’ll continue my explorations of the local area and write more about the interesting little burg that is Quartzsite. I have my cousin Kenny and his delightful wife Carla to thank for reminding me that the area here is full of history and deserves to be written about.

Thanks!

25 February 2015

Trapped in The Twilight Zone?

Old Gas Station in Quartzsite Author Photo

Since moving to the little snowbird community of Quartzsite, Arizona life has begun to resemble an episode of The Twilight Zone; the one where William Shatner is trapped in the diner with the fortune telling machine. Not the one which still gives me the screaming meemies everytime I watch it (black and white old timey effects be damned), “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”

In the “Nick of Time,” Don Carter and his new wife become fixated with, and scared to leave, a fortune telling machine that seems to really work. At the end of the episode, both he and Mrs. Carter are seen feeding pennies (That’s how long ago the show was, now that sort of machine would cost you a quarter at least.) into the thing, refusing to leave the diner. Trapped by their own curiosity and not wanting to leave before getting another fortune told, again and again and…

While I am not trapped by a device that predicts the immediate future, I am caught by several different things in this tiny burg. For one, I find the whole area deliriously addictive. On main street alone, there are abandoned buildings, old and new, that pop into view as one rides or walks along it. The petrol station above, and its partner the garage below, are both quite old. At a guess, probably built in the 1930s or 1940s. Although looking at the pumps; the 1950s is probably more accurate for a time frame in terms of usage.

Petrol station's garage...
Downtown Quartzsite Petrol station and garage circa 1950?

Here is where my innate laziness comes in, I could probably find out when the building was used or at least built but since my Internet signal is intermittent as best, as Stevie King says, “fuhgeddaboudit.” I did Google 1950s pumps and my last guess appears to be correct, but the time the buildings were constructed will have to remain a mystery for now, or until I get better access to the net.

Interestingly enough, on the other side of Main Street is another closed down petrol station. Much newer in design with modern fuel pumps sitting alone and forlorn in front of the boarded up brick building, it makes Quartzsite look like a ghost town in the making. There are other old buildings that are remnants of  days gone by that were old before a time when the average automobile that passed through Hi Jolly’s final resting place were gas guzzling monsters all made in Detroit.

Adobe ruins on Main Street Quartzsite Az
For instance, this Adobe structure could have housed Hi Jolly…

Apart from the dead and dying businesses that litter the streets, there are signs that modern amenities exist in the town. For one thing, RV sales clutter up the main road through town and Burger King just got in WiFi for its customers, to compete with MacDonalds and Carl Jr’s, and most places that sell cigarettes also sell “vapes;” the modern “healthier” equivalent of tobacco smokes. Never mind that the WiFi offered for free, and for purchase is slower than dial up used to be and that no one seems to be too interested in cigarettes that are electric and “safe.”

The other strange, or Twilight Zone-ish thing about Quartzsite is that there seem to be no young people. Certainly there are those passing through, one visiting young lady that was stunning enough to make the heart pound, but on the average the population is aged. There are a few younger folks who work in the Dairy Queen, Subway and the other few fast-food eateries in town but the area is not overrun with denizens much younger than their mid 70s.

*And yet, surprisingly, there is a grade school here. The bus can be seen coming out to the community where I’m living at the moment. So there must be a younger population somewhere; just not, apparently, along Main Street.*

In fact, at 56, I feel like a youngster myself.  While this has nothing to do with feeling trapped it does add to the surreal flavor of this town. Apart from my fascination and the feeling that I’ve stumbled onto the geriatric version of Never Never Land,  there is the lack of transportation. I have a $50 bicycle that I am slowly getting used to, but no car or any other motorized vehicular mode of travel.

Cactus and Mesquite

I feel that I’ve stepped back to yesteryear in terms of time it takes to get anywhere. From my current residence, if I bike, it takes me around 40 to 50 minutes to get to main street. By foot, it takes roughly 100 to 120 minutes depending on the heat and my physical state. I have learned that the fall, aka face plant, in the desert really banged me up pretty well. This has not helped speed up travel times.

Running out of one of my heart meds hasn’t helped either. It is apparently in the post office now, but my poor father couldn’t stand in the huge queue to pick it up. I told him not to worry, that if I didn’t need the stuff I wouldn’t stand in line behind 50 people either. It’s been three days since taking it and I’m not dead yet…

The Quartzsite USPS is tiny and when the season hits, an army of snowbirds queue up to get their general delivery mail and the “lady” who runs the place appears to be eccentric and not a little contrary. Apparently it is a prerequisite to be this way when dealing with an elderly population. And yes, that last sentence was meant to be facetious.

I have learned that there is a bus to Prescott, AZ for Veterans ride to the VA there. I will be using it as I have no other way to get travel to that facility.  The actual VA “run” takes place twice a month. There does not appear to be a bus running anywhere else, either from or through this tiny hamlet.

This lack of motorized transport definitely adds to the feeling of being trapped. The inability to get decent internet or even a television signal at the RV is also a contributing factor.  Financial situations dictate that if it ain’t WiFi at the Burger King watching Hulu Plus the day after, I’m not seeing it or writing about it. I continue to get invites to screenings of films but thus far have no way to travel and watch/review them.

However trapped I may feel, there is no question that this is beautiful terrain. The feel of Quartzsite is that of a western town lagging behind the rest of the world. It has just enough modern amenities to keep it from feeling like the “town that time forgot” but apart from looking like the world’s largest flea market, the town has an aura of yesteryear. This is not helped by the average age of those who both live here year round and the snowbirds who flock here every winter running easily into the retirement range.

Camel Stop Auto Repair
The old Camel Stop

In essence this surreal flavor of Quartzsite, combined with the step back in time, equates to a trapped in The Twilight Zone feel. While there is no Rod Serling providing an introduction or epilogue there are signposts “up ahead.” One final odd note on this quirky little town; there seems to be a regular contingent that migrate here every year, and the locals as well as these snowbirds appear to know immediately when a new bird flocks in.

Anecdote: While sucking up the Burger King WiFi, a lovely local Snowbird, assumed that I was a feathered fly-in seeking warmer climes and said as much. I responded, “No love, I came here from Vegas.” Her confused and shocked face was truly funny and gave me the best chuckle of the day. To that friendly woman I say, “Thank you.”

10 February 2015

Snowbirds: Older Heat Seeking Tribes

Snowbirds in their habitat by Cholla road.Like their feathered counterparts, Snowbirds migrate. The movement may be slower, one aspect of this creature’s physiology is advanced age, but nonetheless, each winter these beings flock toward the warmth of the desert. Not just any desert, mind you, but the Arizona hardpan that lies between Phoenix and the California border.

There are other migratory creatures that travel to this beautiful wasteland; Californian license plates adorn the road and countryside in profusion. These West Coast travelers are temporary nomadic residents who stay for a fortnight, or less; they are not staying for any real amount of time, hence the title of traveler. The less permanent spots on the desert floor have a precise time limit set on its occupants. 14 days, aka a fortnight, or 10 days depending upon the spot or whom one listens to.

Other visitors to this warmer area of the world come from afar. Exotic places such like Alaska and various parts of Canada can be seen on the backs, and fronts, of the various vehicles scattered throughout and around the small town of Quartzsite.

The “season” is apparently a short three-month span that starts mid-January and ends around the first of April. While the area has a steady trickle of visitors from October onwards, the real thrust of the migratory flock does not hit until the middle of the New Year’s first month. At that time, previously empty spaces of desert are taken up by various recreational vehicles of a very temporary nature. Occupants of these “dry camps” are there for the short haul.

Quartzsite itself does have “year-round” residents. The permanent denizens of the desert range from local business owners to the elderly who respond well to the lack of humidity on offer. Arthritis, Rheumatism and other diseases common amongst the aged, all cease to be as painful in this dry atmosphere.

Museum in Quartzsite, on Main Street.

Hardpan desert and mountains surround the small town that sprang up around Tyson Wells. The original purpose of the outpost was that of stagecoach stop. It was here that the coaches would pause to swap out horses, give any passengers a rest from the arduous journey and pick up any mail.

Many stagecoach stops like Wells also provided fresh mounts for the short-lived mail service of the Pony Express. This was the Old West’s version of speedy mail delivery. Adverts at the time asked for young, light, men who (preferably) had no “kin.” The rider had to fight off the elements, hostile Native Americans (known as Indians back in the day) who wanted to steal the horse and kill its rider. Other unfriendly barriers included bad men who wanted to steal the mail itself and animals, insects and serpents that all attacked a stranger who stumbled onto their path.

Before the “season” it is easy to forget that this desert is set in the modern day. Especially when walking after dark, the feeling is one of transporting back to olden days when Apaches were raiding or when the US Army was experimenting with the idea of using camels in the Western Desert.

Walking out along Cholla Road toward the mountains and Pipeline Road towards the insular community of Rainbow Acres, if one leaves the roadside and heads across the desert floor, signs of wildlife appear everywhere. Huge rabbit droppings are proof that jackrabbits are still in the area and before the season these huge creatures can be seen bounding off in the distance.

Open desert along Cholla Road outside Quartzsite, AZ

Until recently bands of coyotes ran through the area and even more recently a neighbor of the small snowbird community walked out into their front garden to find themselves looking into the ferocious eyes of a mountain lion. Walking along the dusty terrain, the tracks of a large cat can be seen. One particular hint to the “tenderfoot” a large dog’s paw prints can be mistaken for a wildcat or mountain lion track, and if they are side-by-side they probably do belong to some large pooch. If, however, the prints are more in line, like a household cat walks, then the tracks are of the domestic cat’s more dangerous, and much bigger, cousin.

Even after the crowds descend upon the town and its surrounding area, a walk in the desert at dusk, or in the dark, is a beautiful experience. It can, however, be a bit painful. Even in this day and age, a moment of carelessness or (to be very honest) a split second of not watching where one is going can be almost deadly.

Whilst walking back from town, an approximate trek of around 6 to 7 miles one way, I had taken a track recommended by a neighbor who claimed that it was a “straighter shot” than following the road. It was and I used it a few times without incident.

On one trip it was dusk and the sun was rapidly setting behind the mountains. The view was spectacular; light filtered up from the far side of those rugged hills and a small amount of cloud was interspersed with the fading daylight. The effect was a reddish tinted sunset that made me long for a camera other than my iPhone and the ability to used it properly.

As I walked toward Rainbow Acres, I turned my head back toward the mountains and the setting sun murmuring, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” Turning my head back to the direction I was walking, something grabbed my right foot and held it.

I went straight over and like those birds that used to adorn small eateries where they appeared to drink from glasses of water by leaning, or bobbing into the glass; I “face-planted” right into the dusty and gravel filled earth. My left cheekbone hit the ground so hard; it felt that my entire skull shifted in the opposite direction.

Author self portrait
Self portrait of wounds sustained by punching the desert floor with my face.

Luckily, I fell over on my face so the MacBook Pro in the backpack was undamaged. The same could not be said for my cheekbone, forehead, left hand and wrist. Until I could get cleaned up, the amount of blood oozing from the various wounds made me look as though Freddy Krueger had swiped me with one razor fingered mitt.

Thankfully I was walking in the desert and not along the road and it was getting darker by the minute. Raising one hand to my face I could feel that I was bleeding pretty impressively there as well and had anyone seen me, they would have thought a scrape with the roaming mountain lion had occurred.

The very next day I spent a little time backtracking my journey. I have very distinctive tread on my shoes making it easy for me to play frontiersman and “track” myself. I found where the fall had taken place. A half-buried stone about the size of those old “magic 8 balls” had been partially dislodged by my right foot.

(You know the ones, right? Ask the black ball a question, like, “Does Debby like me?” Then give it a shake and turn it over. A small oddly shaped die with different messages on it would float up to the tiny window and one could read either yes, no, or some other prediction. This old childhood favorite was used most amusingly in the first Toy Story film where Woody asks the magic ball if the Andy will pick him over Buzz and the ball’s answer is, “Don’t count on it.” Cue frustration on Woody’s part.)

4X4’s, or quads, are ridden all over the area and surprisingly not one had obliterated the events in the dusty trail on the desert floor. It was easy to see where my left hand had connected with the earth as well as my face and my left-knee along with my hat.

Somewhat chillingly, right next to where my cheekbone thudded into the not-so soft ground, was a large stone with a jagged edge…pointed up. Had my face come into contact with that, I might not have survived to write about the experience. Proof that the modern day desert is still deadly, even when populated by great concentrations of snowbirds and other nomadic creatures that apparently already know the dangers of the area.

Or, at the very least, have learned to watch where they are going…

Walking back recently, the moonless sky was full of stars so close that there was the feeling they could be touched with outstretched fingertips. Stopping for a moment and looking back, lesson learned, a group of five Chinese Lanterns were floating in a miniature constellation.

The pattern was eerily beautiful and for brief moment looked like tiny UFOs until their proximity to the Earth itself was observed and each slowly flew out of their shaped configuration as they caught separate updrafts.

18 January, 2015
Quartzsite, Arizona