My fourth year as full-time RVer found me not skipping off to my newspaper job in Idaho, but stranded in Quartzsite after a local publisher stiffed me for three month’s work.
Oh, goody. Summer in Arizona. More new experiences.
I landed a gig where I could park my rig and hired on as caretaker for some large, closed-for-summer facilities. That was cool; I could plug in to electricity and had my run of the buildings. All I had to do was keep everyone else out.
Every afternoon huge cloud formations built and towered over the desert south of Quartzsite. I settled a lawn chair in the Gem Club parking to watch the show.
Nobody ever mentioned the word monsoon to me. The only weather warning I got was from a rock hound who wanted to help himself to some equipment. When I turned him away, he wagged his finger at me and said, “You know it gets 135 here!”
Soon it rained every afternoon. Big buckets of rain, and hail too. How odd! Hail in the hot, hot desert?
One day the clouds seemed bigger, dark, almost menacing and in a hurry. I sat up and wondered if I should go indoors — too late! The wind hit me so hard it knocked my chair over backwards. I ducked inside the gem club building and cowered, listening to bangs and squeals outside.
It was awful! My heart pounded in my throat. I feared the roof would fly off and worried if my trailer would survive. I peeked out the door once and saw mud flying sideways. A gust nearly tore the doorknob from my hand and I decided maybe it was best not to look.
Finally the storm quit, as quickly as it started. When I summoned the courage to peek outside again, I could not believe my eyes. Streets were rivers. An enormous Ironwood tree lay on its side, trunk snapped off at ground level. A camper shell was upside down — glad the occupant was not inside. Part of the Quartzsite Improvement Association building’s awning ripped up and smashed down through the roof. Electricity went out and within a few days something sinister and smelly leaked from the QIA’s fridge and oozed outside.
Gradually residents ventured out to survey their damage. They nodded knowingly to each other and muttered, “First monsoon of the season.”
FIRST?!?!? This will happen again? I decided right then this was my last summer in Quartzsite.
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Cate Mueller is a web designer, editor, reporter and photographer in Bouse, Arizona. To visit her website, CLICK HERE. More of her storm photographs are below.