Life on the Open Road (April 2006 - May 2008)

The continuing saga of a single fulltime RVer who travels the western US. This is part one of my journey, from April 2006, when the blog started, to May 2008, when the blog continues at

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I have been a full-time RVer for 18 years, primarily "boondocking," camping free without hookups, in the Western US. I am connected electronically with the world via satellite TV, phone and internet. My batteries are charged solely by solar panels. I welcome your comments and emails.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

WINs at Quartzsite

We've shown pictures of all the RVs near the center of Quartzsite, but here's a picture of where we are parked with the WINs, 7 miles out of town. Still pretty crowded.

One of the activities the WINs had was the "3rd Annual Marty O. Masters Invitational Golf Classic Open," or something like that. This is desert golf at it's finest. Some of those lies were pretty difficult. The winners got filmed by a crew from Retirement Living TV, who did a whole show here. The show will be shown in February on DirecTV Channel 364.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Goodbye Dorothy

We are sad to report that WIN's beloved founder, Dorothy Prince, passed away Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas. She became ill here in Quartzsite less than 2 weeks ago. She founded WIN 19 years ago in order to enjoy the company of other single RVers. Without her, none of us, including Randy and I, would ever have met. She will be sorely missed. Randy's poem celebrates her contribution.

Dorothy Prince, Our Number 1 WINer

Millions dream of what could be;
Thousands dream and talk.
But precious few proceed to make
Their dream rise up and walk.

Founders are special dreamer’s who
Achieve the greatest innovation:
They bring into being and bequeath to the world
A living organization.

Thus Dorothy Prince created WIN;
Organized singles in motion.
Now we are a thousand strong
And stretch from ocean to ocean.

She called us out of our separateness
To connections exciting and new,
Like mountain men from the wilderness
Called to a rendezvous.

We delight in each other’s company;
Wander like tribes of yore,
Bonded by the constitution she wrote,
Traditions she laid in store.

Hats off to the lady who gave us birth;
Thanks for her unique gift,
Molding a happy caravan
Of highway flotsam adrift.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Wall Comes to Quartzsite

Today was the opening of the American Veterans' Traveling Tribute, an exhibit that pays tribute to the men and women who served in the Armed Forces. The major part of the exhibit is a 4/5 scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

At first I thought, "Why Quartzsite?" But a lot of the snowbirds here either fought in the War, or knew someone who died there. It is a very emotional experience to see those 58,000+ names.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hi Jolly Returns to Quartzsite

Hadji Ali, or “Hi Jolly” as his American friends nicknamed him, was a Syrian camel driver brought to the West, along with 75 camels, in 1858 as part of an Army experiment in desert transportation and freight hauling. His pyramid tombstone in Quartzsite is the most visited grave in Arizona. A few years ago, Randy wrote a poem celebrating him.

Hi Jolly Returns to Quartzsite

Friends called it folly, but bold Hi Jolly
Came with camels to the West.
The Army back east was testing which beast,
The mule or camel, worked best.

Results were abstruse, the camels set loose
To wander the West left and right.
Hi Jolly stayed, he worked and played,
And died in the town of Quartzsite.

At the top of this year, with spirit and cheer,
Hi Jolly returned to his town.
Some cosmic track ushered back
This wandering desert clown.

Floating ghostly still in the Chocolate Hills,
He scanned the valley below.
A Syrian boy feeling wondrous joy
That only long-sleepers could know.

His town was alive, like a busy beehive.
Bustling activity swirled.
Thousands and thousands of small mobile houses
Filled the largest campground in the world.

Hordes of spenders and a thousand vendors,
Sold zircon to apple sauce.
What was strikingly odd, as red goldenrod:
Hardly anyone here had a boss !

Like fog on the ground, Hi Jolly floated ‘round,
Absorbing as good spirits can,
The flavor, the scenes, and what it all means,
This massing of deep desert clans.

Something grand and dear was happening here
Hi Jolly could not have expected:
The mobile domicile and a new lifestyle
In Quartzsite were being perfected.

The sprouting seed of a brand new breed,
Living simple, light and lean.
Living happy and free as wild Cherokee
In cozy little living machines;

A life that’s bold with oneself in control
And clusters of friends in affection;
Reinventing the tribe and helping revive
Our long lost natural connection.

Choosing sunlight’s glow over ice and snow,
Acceptance over sorrow,
Adventurous game over riches and fame
And today over “iffy” tomorrow.

His mission complete, Hi Jolly took seat
And vanished on the ghost camel “Rhyme,”
Speeding his report to his spirit cohorts,
Because eternity is interested in time.

He originally came to try a new game,
So it gave Hi Jolly sweet pride
And special delight that here in Quartzsite,
Something new was again being tried.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Quartzsite - The Biggest Flea Market in the World!

Ah---Quartzsite----a one of a kind town. What Branson, Missouri is to country music, Quartzsite is to RVing. Thousands of RVs congregate in town and in the desert for miles around.

Saturday was the opening of the RV show here. Lots of vendors are in the "big tent," and lots more are outdoors on various areas around town. RV supplies, arthritis pain relief, travel clubs, RV resorts, jewelry, T-shirts, and a myriad of other gadgets and gizmos are hawked here. Anything that might interest an RVer.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Diana's 15 Minutes of Fame

Today one of my pictures on Shutterpoint was made a "Featured Photo." It's a picture of Ron and Barbara in the Wave. I was really shocked, because usually their featured photos are of food or half-naked women. Click here to see the picture. You can see a bigger photo by clicking on it, after you click on the link above. To read about our trip to the Wave, click here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Desert Solitude

After two holiday weeks with the WINs, it’s time for some "desert solitude." As I versed some years ago—

We began as a tribe on a grassy plain,
Wandering a circuit for meat and grain,
Sharing our fire, our food and fun,
Transcending aloneness, we fused into one.

Now WIN is becoming what we’ve already been,
A wandering tribe of women and men.
We gather like salmon for a fine interlude,
Then scatter like pollen to court solitude.

Everyone we know has run away like us to ease up, wind down, recharge, "knit up the raveled sleeve of care"— cause the Quartzsite gathering, granddaddy of them all, is coming January 17th.

Seeking to diminish my ignorance, I signed up for a computer course at a local college. Here I am doing my homework. Diana is so proud.

Never neglecting my domestic chores, I became a contortionist to install a 12-volt plug for Diana’s computer.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wow! It must have been a wild New Years Eve! Here we are at our New Years morning coffee get-together.

This little tract of land we are parked on is full of interesting sounds and sights. Besides the paintball fights and the trains, we have a lot of hummingbirds. They are hard to photograph, but I tried. Our best guess? That is a Costa's on the left and an Anna's on the right. If there is an expert out there who has a better idea, please let us know.

We also have dive-bombing cropdusters flying overhead every evening. Yuma is "The Winter Lettuce Capital of the World." Over 90 percent of the country's winter vegetable crops are grown in this area!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Whale Watching in a High Surf Advisory

I guess we should have known this was a bad idea.... I ran over to San Diego after Christmas for a few days and we decided to go whale watching. All was well at the dock, where Mara learned to use the binoculars. We were all looking forward to seeing some humpback whales, on their way south for the winter. Even the harbor was nice and smooth, but as soon as we hit the huge waves in the open ocean, there were a lot of green faces on the boat. I thought it was lots of fun, but I don't think anyone else would have agreed with me. We didn't see any whales, so we all got a coupon for another trip. I don't know if too many of the passengers will take them up on it, however....

In addition to the retired USS Midway, we got to see two active aircraft carriers in the harbor. On the left is the USS Nimitz, commissioned in 1975, the first of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In the center is the USS Ronald Reagan , the 9th and latest of the same class, commissioned in 2003. Both are about the same size, with flight decks of 4.5 acres each. If you look closely, or click on the picture, you can see the elevator doors are open on the USS Ronald Reagan.