Sunday Feb. 3
Since we don't get daily
or Sunday newspapers anymore in Quartzsite we have to search the web for
our news. This showed up in the Yuma Sun.
Gas prices hurt winter
tourism in Quartzsite
BY GRAYSON STEINBERG, CRONKITE
NEWS SERVICE February 2, 2008
Quartzsite - It's been a
rough winter for Cena Beene, one of the many hoping to cash in on snowbirds
who flock to this normally desolate patch of western Arizona.
The desert is studded with
RVs and trailers, and vehicles exiting Interstate 10 back up 10 deep at
Quartzsite's only traffic light. But business is down, according to Beene
and others whose tent businesses transform the town almost overnight into
a giant swap meet.
Since November, Beene has
sold about half as many American Indian feathers, headdresses and kachina
dolls as she had by this time last winter. Beene, who's been venturing
here from Pennsylvania for 26 years, doesn't know how long she'll stick
around if business doesn't pick up.
"We'll be lucky if we stay
until the end of February," she said.
Meme Selleck, who travels
here from San Diego, said she's used to much bigger crowds in the open-air
market where she peddles antique dishware.
"It'd take a week to get
through this," Selleck said, pointing around her. "You could not walk in
Business owners and Quartzsite
officials say the biggest reason for the slowdown is posted at gas stations
around town. Gas prices are pushing $3 a gallon on average nationally,
and those who drive RVs or tow trailers take a bigger hit than most.
"At these prices today,
a lot of them can't afford to come here," said Verlyn Michel, Quartzsite's
Michel expects 20 percent
fewer people to visit Quartzsite this winter. Last year, a record 5 million
visitors passed through Quartzsite, he said, citing Arizona Department
of Transportation figures.
Erin Morehouse, who sells
Disney collectibles and used clothing here, said she understands the pain
of higher gas prices. She and her husband drive their van, which also serves
as their home in Quartzsite, back and forth from Huntington Beach, Calif.,
250 miles away.
Every time we go home, it's
a $120 round-trip," Morehouse said.
The weak dollar and higher
inflation are hurting consumers nationwide, said Dawn McLaren, a research
economist with the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at Arizona State
University's W.P. Carey School of Business.
The dollar's drop makes
imported goods more expensive, she said, and that drives up prices for
everything from clothing to gasoline.
"As those things take a
bigger chunk out of the budget, you have less percent of the money to spend
on fun stuff," McLaren said.
Home to about 3,600 permanent
residents, Quartzsite becomes a small city in the winter as the RV set
takes advantage of its mild weather and unique charms. The latter include
a gem and mineral show and Hi Jolly Days, honoring an immigrant who helped
the military experiment with camels as pack animals in the 1800s.
Quartzsite has dozens of
mobile home parks, and the federal Bureau of Land Management operates several
large campgrounds in the desert outside town.
Magilla Ralitaille, visiting
for the fifth straight year from the Canadian province of Quebec, said
the cost to drive his RV here is worth it.
"It's dry and we can have
sun almost every day," Ralitaille said. "It's less expensive than in Florida."
Following the visitors are
sometimes-quirky businesses offering everything from Beanie Babies to quilts
to organic meat.
The shopping has become
a draw in itself, attracting people such as Rey Rios, who has been making
the trip from Barstow, Calif., for 18 years.
"You find a lot of good
bargains," Rios said. "I bring anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 and come
Quartzsite has benefited
greatly from the winter boom. Since 2000, the town has extended water and
sewer service to its entire population, paved roads and beefed up the fire
and police departments. Its population has doubled in that time.
Rick Garlow would like to
see more such visitors. Co-owner of the Quartzsite General Store, which
does most of its business in the winter, he said sales are down 15 percent
from last year.
"That's $100,000 in gross
sales," Garlow said. "It means we're going to have a tough summer."
Beene, the vendor from Pennsylvania,
said that as Quartzsite has grown it has lost some of its charm and its
appeal to vendors. Some of the lots where winter vendors once set up now
have RV businesses on them, for example.
When she first started,
Beene could snag a spot for $90 a month. Her rent today is $500 a month,
a price she said is making Quartzsite a less-interesting place to shop.
"We need progress, but we
don't need to run the vendors out of town," she said.
That about sums it up, with
what Q is like this winter season.
We are going to hunker down
and watch the super bowl for its commercials a little later. Terry still
has a cold/flu thing going on. And it is windy but sunny today, so not
a day to sit outside.
Update: Late today
I heard over the police radio the Big Tent blew down. So we went in to
check it out. We were going anyway to get stuff for super bowl supper.
The east tent.
The center tent stayed up.
West tent. I still
see a yellow car from the car show om the green floor where the big tent
used to cover, inside.
It all blew to the north
with south winds.
Thought you should see what it looked like before it went down to give
a little prespective. The left tent was just as big as the right tent.
Now scroll back up and see the distruction.
Monday Feb. 4
in Them Thar Hills...
Why Prospectors Sense Mother Lode
Is Not Far Off
Rising Gold Prices Buoy Hopes of
Real-Life Treasure Hunters in Arizona
Gold Prices Buoy Hopes of Real-Life Treasure Hunters in Arizona
hours west of Phoenix, deep inside a giant hole in the desert of Quartzsite,
Ariz., Brian Kirwin is chasing an age-old American dream. He recently
took an ABC News team deep underground to view the mine where he's planning
to strike it rich.
"There's gold in here. There's
about 400,000 ounces," Kirwin said. "It's very high-grade. It's very rich."
The gold doesn't come out
in huge chunks. Kirwin's computer models show an enormous amount of it
embedded in tons of rock.
"As far as the visible gold
goes, this is a very good example," he explained.
The gold is expensive to
mine, but the skyrocketing price ofun lovingf gold is now turning upstart
enterprises like Kirwin's into serious operations.
Gold prices hit record highs
in 2007, selling for more than $900 an ounce. Investors expect prices to
rise even further in 2008 and possibly peak at over $1000 an ounce.
Kirwin admits his plans
for the mine consume most of his waking moments. "I wake up thinking about
this. I think about this in the shower. I dream about this. It's consuming."
He's not the only one dreaming
about it. Dan Ware runs a club for so-called "weekend prospectors" who,
despite the odds, hit the desert each week with dollar signs in their eyes.
"From about two years ago
we've jumped from 70 members to approximately 400 now. The price of gold
seems to bring everybody in," Ware said.
The big companies and individual
prospectors share a dream of striking it rich. But that's not all they
have in common. Above all else, they rely on a heavy dose of persistence
Technology has improved
since prospectors worked the mines a century ago. There are metal detectors,
portable conveyor belts to sift through dirt. Miners dig for a couple hours
on black gold and hope to find "a bullet." They also use an electric gold
So far no one's getting
rich, but there is gold in these hills — and it's getting more valuable
by the day.
lovin metal detector hobbiests in Q take note, others also think there
is gold in them there hills.
So you wonder where we come
up with this crap... It's slow in February for news... so
We NOW can get the Arizona
Republic newspaper at the General Store in Q if we want one.
WOW. I guy drives from Phoenix and drops them off. At $1 for the daily
paper (normally 50 cents ) [we can understand if you want one you
need to pay for it] and $2.50 for the Sunday. Yes... we will get the Sunday
Paper. Better than driving 20 miles to Blythe, CA to get the yuppie Palm
Springs paper for $2. You just have to understand you are living OFF the
mainstream when in Q. Sure they think they are a big town BUT it has a
way to go. The General Store has all we need and sales on T F S and the
best meat anywhere. We kind of like it, as growing up on farms miles from
town in the midwest, in Iowa we remember what is is like to live like this.
Many come here and can't get out of town fast enough.
But I could use a Wal*Mart
to cure my fix for shopping once or twice during the winter season. Yuma
is about 90 miles away (one way) to get that out of my system, and it is
not worth it to go that far (remember diesel prices) just to sustain a
consumer buying outing. We can get all we NEED right here. Just miss the
glitter of it all in a shopping center.
OK... OK done now... and
looking forward to Super Tuesday and the primary elections... as we are
political junkies and want to know the how, and the why, people vote as
they do. The reasons are unique as each person, and how we each find our
way, to who we will vote for. Some take this process to heart, and some
don't. It's complex and not sure if the system works well all the time
but it is the best we have come up with so far. I get frusterated at times
with people who vote without thinking the reasons why.
Wednesday Feb. 6
were glued to the TV with the Super Tuesday Primaries. And when the
winneres were called we were still confused as to what it all ment. It
will take time to sort it out for us.
as the night continued to unflod, is was the storms that crossed the south,
as we were all wrapped up as it seems, in unimportant things, as people
were scrambling to stay alive. and now we hear (today Wednesday) about
45 people lost that battle. How sad.
in Q a visitor from Canada did not have a good day as on the police scanner
I followed a fire dept. call to a fire that distroyed their MH.
I have become the Town Crier, it seems, for Q and its events on this blog,
see the following items if you wish, OR not. I did not post the full content
just the links to the newspaper articles.
News Alert for: quartzsite
cookoff expected to be biggest one yet
Times - Blythe,CA,USA
5th Annual "It's Chili in Quartzsite" chili cookoff is expected to be the
biggest and best ever with the addition of a new "pod" bringing in more
Parade set for Feb. 9
Times - Blythe,CA,USA
again this year by Willpower, Inc. Parade line-up will start at 8 am at
the Quartzsite Fire Station on Tyson Dr. after the pancake breakfast at
breakfast in Q'site
Times - Blythe,CA,USA
Joanne Winer The Quartzsite Fire
Sunday Feb. 9
we went for a ride up to Parker since it was such a nice day 75 and sunny
and no wind. It doesn't get much better than that in southwest AZ in the
winter. We had been wanting to go to the Desert Bar for years and just
hadn't made it there yet. Well today was the day and so glad we did. What
a fun place and the drive through the desert around blind curves with a
lane in a half was changeling for some drivers.
(Click about to go to
their web site)
This is Bar none
one of the the best places to go to in all of the Colorado River Strip
in western AZ.
It ranks right up there
with the thing to do on a weekend. A fun desert drive and a great time,
out in the scenic outback.
This place is only open
from high noon to sunset, Saturday & Sunday. Closed June, July, and
It gets hot out here in
the desert in the summer. After all this place is off the grid. Runs on
The drive is 5 miles of
back desert road. This was the good section.
Over the crest you get a
view of the desert bar.
Traffic was heavy and many
times we had to squeeze by others in the opposite side of the road. Pulling
to the side as far as we could and stop to let people by. I won't say lanes
because there are none. We are in a dually so it was even more narrow for
This church is built all
out of steal no wood.
A great time was being had
by all. The place was rocking... And the smell of burgers grilling. WOW
The band was great and people
were up dancing their hind ends off. All the electric power for the who
place is done with solar. The whole place is Off the Grid as they
Now for the extra good news,
the prices. No cover and beer $2.50 and the food as you can see was not
Quartzsite vender prices by any means. I had a hamburger and Terry had
a burger and cilli. They were hot kind of burnt, just like you would
do them at home. Not flat but rounded. A couple ice cold beers and
people watching what could be better. I think they try to keep things rustic
and it even extends to the signs. It adds to the atmosphere of just happening
upon a desert oasis and finding refreshment for a dry tongue. As in days
Later after stopping back
in Parker at the Safeway for supplies we listened to Garrison Keilor
on XM sat. radio while driving back. Then had a big campfire.
I look a little worn out
from the days events. It was fun day to be alive and having fun in the
great southwest part of the country. We understand it is 2 deg. and
blowing snow, with roads closed back in Iowa. Sorry but sombody has to
be here.... Do visit their Desert
Bar web site for many more pictures and the history of the Nellie E
Saloon and the mine.
Thursday Feb. 14
post on one of the national forums tonight.
Is your RV safe
to live in?
NBC News talks about 144,000 trailers sent to New Orleans unsafe to live
in (Formaldehyde problem) and that FEMA told its personal not to even enter
them, but let people live in them. See the MSNBC story...
tests confirm FEMA trailers are toxic.
the NBC TV News story, they are shipping them to the tornado victims in
the south for the huge storms last week.
the trailers are better than nothing.
my question is, we live fulltime in
it built any better than the FEMA units?
How do we determine which RV brands/companies produce uints safe to live
in, so we don't have to worry?
the RV manufactures stand up, and profess why their units are safe. Not
just say it, but prove it.
wern't forced to live in our units, by a diaster, but chose this lifestyle
and now we need to know if it is also safe.
Friday Feb. 15
Got an email about this trailer
issue (above) that was on the NuWa forum site and the link
to the thread.
Since the NBC report the
internet forums have exploded with posts on this issue and the more I read
the less I feel there is a problem if you know what to watch for.
Not much else going on this
Friday in Q. The BLM entrance stations are only open half days.
The Music and Chili
Cookoff is next weekend. Might pick up a bit by then. The RV
dealers are moving out the vast inventory of rigs to other shows. One said
moving up to Kingman, AZ for a show. There just might be an over supply
of used units this year.
It has been cool the last
couple of days but to warm up again to about 80 over the weekend. Just
going to have some fish and chips done in our oven and watch a 2 two hour
Las Vegas TV show. And you thought life was all wild and exciting
(Moved this pic from
above... looked better here)
Time to get out and have
campfires and really enjoy what it is to be in the desert.
This is the time of the
winter season with less RVs and warmer weather.
So many people only come
here for 14 days in mid January and it is still cold at that time of year.
So they go away saying it's too cold. Wonder where they all go back to.
Think many are from CA and just came on a 14 day vacation for the shows.
For the fulltimers they
may go to Yuma, southern CA. or go to play in south TX. Not sure, but (in
larger numbers) they don't stay here for more than a month anymore. One
thing for sure is, I know they are not going back up NORTH as it has been
a real nasty snowy and cold winter in the heartland this year. As Terry
called back to IA tonight, found another weekend of snow and right now
a temp of about 10. I had him ask if we were missing anything this winter
I do remember the harsh
winters and having to get to work each day no matter the conditions. (You
do research where you should live, as in buying a home, and how hard it
will be to get to work.) We had no snow days at the phone company. I was
in a control center that covered many states, so if were were having a
storm, in other states we worked with it was nice. People do
stay in hotels downtown (within walking distance) when they can't get home
and back in time if it gets bad. Now as I write this I can recall with
greater detail just how much that sucked. And to think I was having thoughts
of missing the fun of a crisp morning walking in a frozen wonderland, as
in struggling, to get to the company building before dropping dead, frozen
in a snow bank.
As they say, that was
in another life.
Someone bring me a margarita.
Arizona in Quartzsite living
off the grid, aint't half bad, now that I think about it... as I take another
Monday Feb. 18
know all of you watched the Datona 500. We missed that as we were just
to busy relaxing in the sunshine. Terry went and got a sunday paper. We
can now get one in Q for $2.50 and well woth it except it is the AZ Republic
and they are crazy in love with McCain. We find the more time we spend
in the desert we just don't get into watching TV during the day. (During
the day is the time to turn it on as we have all the power with the sun)
After sunset and it gets cold, we do turn it on. But never during the day
as in the morning news shows. We get that news from the internet. And we
have a DirecTV DVR unit at about $80 month and that is without the
movie channels. We do get the east and west national feeds, with PBS.
a police scanner and the last few days have been full of Air Care helicopter
flights to the Q area rushing people to hospitals in Phoenix. Just tonight
a burn victim who fell into a campfire in La Posa south The rescue group
from Q got there and called for the helicopter. We watched it fly over
heard them talking to the ground units to get the GPS grid and land and
later take off to the burn center in Phoenix. This type of thing goes on
day after day. One local resident told us it cost $1000 for a ambulance
to go to Parker 30 miles north to the regional hospital. What must
it cost for a flight to Phoenix if you don't have insurance to cover it?
have talked about this, and we can get a Q based ambulance to us just a
mile south of Q at the La Posa North BLM in about five minutes.
faster than where we spend much of our summer in Iowa. Back there we are
also about 30 miles from hospitals and they are Trauma centers with ALL
to get an ambulance (there) the 911 call would go to the local rural town
to a volunteer fire department service and the wait for them to get to
you would be forever. Then they would still have to drive you 30 miles
in heavy city traffic to the full service H.
they get to you in five minutes and IF a helicopter is available you are
off to Phoenix.
you are having a heart problem both cases are not good.
Care in America, the options are NOT good if in a rural area.
who wants to RV fulltime in a big city parking lot of a trauma center just
so they can get emergency care.
as we get older we need to ask these questions at each camping stop we
make. How far are we away from quality care and if it is is covered
(in network) in our health plan. If you are lucky to still have Health
are things we need to think about just as much as if the fishing
iany good where we want to go.
on the road Health Care 101 done for now. (BTW still working through the
bill for Terry when we went to an In Network hospital and found
the ER doc. was NOT In Network.) How wrong is that?
I am on a rant... I saw a post in the RV.net forum on where to boondock
in Southern CA this time of year.
poster, on their Datastrom link post was: Arrived at the Springs
in Borrego RV park in Borrego Springs, CA. This is one of our favorite
parks. Sits on a golf course and is close to the kids. We will be here
for about 2 1/2 months. We will then store our RV here while we go on a
Panama Canal Cruise. We will be get back in May and then head to Alaska
for the summer.
there is no upcoming recession is these peoples lives... Diesel costs how