“What’s the name of the place I’m going? Cortez? Courtside?” I asked my friends as I climbed into my new home – an old RV.
“Quartzsite! RVers’ Mecca. Bye, have fun!” My friends bade me a happy 40th birthday and a fond farewell and I set sail as a brand new full-time RVer.
One flat tire and two sleepless roadside nights later I crossed into Arizona over the Colorado River east of Blythe. The landscape changed instantly from cultivated green farms to naked craggy brown desert peaks. Fifteen miles later I crested a range and the landscape changed again, just as instantly.
The desert ahead was a sea of white. White tarps on hundreds of vendor booths, white aluminum on thousands of RVs, white Kool Kover shelters and as I pulled off Interstate 10 I saw herds of white-haired people walking around browsing.
So this is Quartzsite!
I pulled into an RV park on Main Street and walked into the office. It was crowded with more white-headed people, all with a similar hairstyle; curly and short, like poodles. Perhaps it was a club.
A lady behind the counter helped all the poodle-heads and a few more who came in after me. Finally I stepped up to the counter. The lady gave me a dirty look and turned away.
I cleared my throat and said, “Excuse me, ma’am?”
The lady turned toward me and scowled.
“Um, how much is it to stay here?”
“You can’t stay here,” she non-answered and turned away again. What the heck?
“WHAT!” She whipped around and snapped, “You’ll have to leave.”
“What?” My jaw dropped.
“This is a fifty-five plus park,” she said.
Fifty-five…? The speed limit? On these dinky streets?
“Out!” she barked.
Out I went. Gee whiz, welcome to Quartzsite. I headed out into the desert to dry camp. I learned later that “55+” means “for grown ups only.” What a concept – that you have to be a certain age to stay somewhere!
Turns out Miss Poodle-head did me a huge favor: I never again bothered to try staying in an RV park and by not paying any rent for six years I saved enough money to buy a house. Thanks, lady!
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Cate Mueller is a web designer, editor, reporter and photographer in Bouse, Arizona. To visit her website, click here.