Quartzsite, Ten Years Ago

Cate’s Column #19

I landed in Quartzsite January 10, 2002. At 41 and a brand new full time RVer, I had no idea what I was doing. Thwarted at my first — and last — attempt to camp in an RV park, I learned that “55+” meant “senior citizens only.” I followed other RVs heading south of Quartzsite and found a sign reading, “Bureau of Land Management — Long Term Visitor Area” without any dumb “55+” logo.

A smiling man wearing a brown vest greeted me warmly. “Howdy! Come on in here, young lady. Welcome to the LTVA.”

I mustered my courage. “C-can I s-stay here?”

“Sure you can! It’s fifty dollars a month or a hundred and twenty for a long term pass good through April 15.”

A month? What if I hate it? “Can I start with one night with full hookups?”

He threw back his head and howled. “You have no idea how often we get that request. No — this area is for boon docking. Dry camping. Is your rig self-contained? Got a generator? Go find a tree you like and park next to it.”

The LTVA pass fit right into my budget. I paid and headed out into the desert.

Within a week the desert disappeared as more and more RVs parked all around me. Hundred thousand dollar rigs turned into off-road vehicles as people jockeyed for camping space. Soon driving into Quartzsite became impossible and I walked everywhere.

One day I walked into a restaurant and waited patiently for a table. The dining room was crowded and every diner sported the same curly white hairstyle. Menus were stacked on the counter and I read one while waiting. A waiter appeared, pulled the menu from my hands, handed it to the poodle heads behind me and led them to a table.

What? Restaurants are “55+” too?

Fine! I walked over to Lamm’s Produce and bought some delicious avocados and a loaf of fresh wheat bread. My lunch was wonderful. I basked in the warm sunshine and decided I was pretty lucky. This “55+” attitude was going to save me a lot of money!

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Cate Mueller is a web designer, editor, reporter and photographer in Bouse, Arizona. To visit her website, click here.

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