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A Quartzsite Refuse-nik

Near Quartzsite AZ a couple winters ago. A cynic might say that the big RV gathering in Quartzsite every January is a testament to herd-like behavior in human beings more than anything else. Still, it probably makes sense for any RVer to go there once, at least for a reason that might sound snide or facetious at first: the experience of Quartzsite will enhance your appreciation of camping somewhere -- anywhere -- else, in January.

After all aren't you always making a comparison of some kind when you appreciate the goodness or badness of any place? The comparison might be silent or implicit, but it's still there and it colors the whole situation. Your appreciation of anywhere-but-Quartzsite can be quite intense after experiencing that dreadful mess once.

The dogs and I had an especially good example of that a couple years ago. We boondocked a few dozen miles east of Quartzsite, with world-class hiking and scenery, a good wireless internet signal, and complete privacy. We were tucked in pretty close to a small "sky island", one of those small mountain ranges that rises abruptly from the flat desert plain. There is something personal and intimate about having your own little mountain range. It was small enough to mountain bike around in one day. 

Compared to the noise and congestion over at Quartzsite a few miles to the west, this place makes you feel like a don of the Spanish West or a gringo cattle baron of the late 1800s.

A large, stand-alone Rock, about 500 feet tall, stands in our front yard. It had a noble look.

Naturally our first long hike was clockwise 'round the rock. Every few minutes the rock's shape morphed into something unrecognizable. You begin to doubt if you will ever be able to get completely around some "thing" if the thing keeps changing. 

Coming around the back I kept choosing the main dry wash as we climbed to a saddle. Then we could drop into the watershed of yesterday's hike and walk a dry wash right back to the trailer. Although the watershed of each dry wash was only a few acres, they were deep, with dry waterfalls and eroded banks. The dry waterfalls were worn as smooth as children's playground equipment.

Saddles are great fun to reach. In just a few steps you realize you've come to a new watershed, a new viewscape, and in a humble way a new chapter in your life. But that didn't happen here. The dry washes of the two, oppositely-draining watersheds mingled in an interdigitated fashion. At times it all seemed topologically impossible. I probably walked for a minute on the far side of the saddle before realizing it.


Anonymous said…
Just a friendly critique introduce a topic which seems to have much promise and then your pattern, from what I can see (and you have done this several times in my opinion), reverts to an example of this promise, but then you just drop it at the end.
So I end up confused about what your point is.
I can pick out bits and pieces of what you wrote and respond but I feel its not the real point.
In this essay, the subject you introduce has something to do with a comparison which you state in your second paragraph. But what you lack is a concluding paragraph which pulls it all together and hopefully makes a clear and insightful point and takes the reader to a new awareness.
Does this make sense?
Anonymous, this might be a disadvantage of editing an RV camping experience from the past. But I love editing them, sometimes radically.

A writer that I greatly admire (Bill Bonner) once said that a writer should never offer too many conclusions to the readers.

Sometimes I am content to connect a couple things, and let the reader form the conclusion. Do they really want me to hammer the nail home, mercilessly?

Indeed today's essay would have been neatly buttoned up by mentioning that this memorable camping experience would not have been so pleasurable unless I had first experienced the dreadfulness of camping at Quartzsite. Suffering causes Desire and Pleasure, despite the back-asswardness of the Buddha.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for your reply, Boonie. I know writing is very creative and highly personal and a real part of its value is reflected in the eyes of the reader (the other part being the cathartic value to the author.)
Your last sentence above is personally what I would like to hear...and perhaps a bit more of what being in the herd of campers was like so I, with no RV experience, can appreciate what you are saying. Maybe I'm dense and need to be hit over the head a bit to clearly get the jist of it.
I can appreciate the point about not drawing too many conclusions for the reader. I agree you wouldn't want to hammer your point mercilessly....but making the point once is worth something....and now, I've made my point twice already so best I be quiet now.
Ted said…
I was just wondering about that mega-show. Seems like the park here has thinned out some -- people heading to Q, maybe?

I have no desire nor need to experience the contrast. Been to too many conventions in my life already, both visiting and manning the booths. I shall stay far, far away.
Anonymous said…
Quartzsite to me is a lot of what you mentioned - hordes of people, RV Show and not much privacy.

But on top of all that is the comraderie of getting together with those friends I haven't seen in a year and meeting other friends as well. We enjoy each other's company during "Happy Hours" and a few dinners. Then we all can sit around a campfire chatting long into the night watching all the beautiful stars.