Woman who lost house in fire says she is grateful for community support

Texas lady fondly remembers her times coming to Parker and reminds us how Bean Pot Hill got its name

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Photo via Justine R
 
The woman who lost her vacation house to a fire on Bean Pot Hill last week says she is grateful to have the support of the Parker community and appreciates the kind messages she has received.

Marti Stone Gibson, 71, lives in Alamo, Texas and watched the unfolding coverage of her beloved home going up in flames here on Parker Live.

“Parker Live was a blessing enabling me to view from afar. Particularly after only hearing rumours of my property being ablaze, neighbors being unable to answer my frantic phone calls,” she said. “I truly appreciate all of the firefighters, neighbors and friends who have rallied above and beyond the call of duty. Special thanks to Buckskin Fire Department, Parker Fire and La Paz County Sheriff’s Department.”

Marti says she has been coming to the river here for over 50 years, an activity which had its roots when her mother’s family migrated from Texas to California during the 1930s, including her uncle, who worked on Hoover Dam. As Marti was growing up in the 50s, they spent summer vacations in California and moved to Hollywood for a short time, where Marti met a childhood friend whose family had a vacation home in Parker (and eventually moved here full-time).

“They introduced me to your river and my own son was brought here for the first time at age three,” Marti said. “Our ties bound us to the desert and I’ve cherished every moment on the water, enjoying the desert flora, viewing sunsets brighten beautiful mountains across the river from our deck, for years.”

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The property which went up in flames last week was in the family a long time and was frequently used by friends and family in their travels, according to Marti. She described the place as “funky” and “comfy” and said the property had a great view and held good memories for her. Because her insurance carrier would not insure a property of that kind – two older mobiles attached together – the places were uninsured, which Marti said she regretted.

“On the other hand, I feel very fortunate and blessed that my son and I are currently sitting in our Texas home, safe, surrounded by similar (not same paintings or photos, but others) to items that were lost there in Parker,” she said. “Very fortunate, indeed! Yes, another life lesson. A reminder that at 71 years of age, we’re never too old to learn another one.”

Captain Mike Byrd at Buckskin Fire Department said the fire was exacerbated by the “high fuel load” in the canyon, with a large amount of dead weeds, brush and other flammable materials ready to ignite. According to Lieutenant Curt Bagby at the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, the fire was started by a pre-teen child playing with a lighter or matches.

 

The property was located off Crystal Canyon Drive in Lakeside 2, known as Bean Pot Hill by locals. Marti had a story about the origins of that too:

“The Bean Pot cafe sat at the corner of the intersection at Lakeside and the old main road, before it became a highway to Havasu. For those who aren’t aware, that little Bean Pot cafe was the only landmark for this steep street with its climb up to the top of Lakeside 2. When giving directions, it was always, ‘Turn at The Bean Pot’. Though the Bean Pot is long gone, the hill is still referred to as Bean Pot Hill.”

Marti said she had recovered from the initial shock and horror of seeing the photographs on Parker Live of her property going up in smoke, and had some kind words about the Parker community.

“My son Scott and I commend each of you who have played a major role in this event. Ya’ll newscasters, the radio station. To all of the firefighters, dispatchers, crews, law enforcement officers, friends, neighbors, caring strangers, acquaintances up and down the river, business owners, operators, staff, we send our utmost and deepest heartfelt love and appreciation! I feel honored to have spent many moments and hours in your establishments, receiving the best haircuts for myself and little dogs, manis and pedis, massages, meals, dental work on occasion, as well as excellent medical care, shopping, dining and even sipping some. Each of you have played a large part in my life, albeit, short periods of time.”

Although she won’t be able to recover financially enough to rebuild on the property, Marti says she is likely to remain a happy camper and short-term visitor to the Parker area.

Her entire email to Parker Live is attached below.

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Thank you so very much for asking. Yes, I cherish the Parker community & have for years. Fondly remembering when a funky little cafe, The Bean Pot, sat at the corner of the intersection at Lakeside & the old main road (before it became a highway to Havasu).

As a native Texan, growing up in the area where I continue making my home, in the town of Alamo, Texas, 260 south of The Alamo, of Davy Crockett, Travis, & Bowie fame, located in San Antonio, it was only a quirk that I became immersed into being a River Rat. My home area is southernmost part of Texas, on the Mexico border, a delta area just an hour upriver (Rio Grande) from Brownsville, South Padre Island, in a semi tropical climate, of what’s called the Lower Rio Grande Valley. For me, that Arizona desert held its own charm & beauty. Being in two totally different places was the best of both worlds.

My mother had family, brothers & a sister, who migrated from Texas to California, during the 1930’s. They worked along this beautiful Colorado River installing power plants & at Bolder/Hoover Dam. Therefore, as I was growing up, family summer vacations every other year were to California. Between years of traveling to the east coast. Lengthy summer vacations were spent in California, during my youth, the fabulous 1950’s, as well as moving there, for a short while, after high school.

Some close friendships developed during those years, one dear friend from childhood went to the same school, Comer & Duran, in Hollywood, as I. She & her family (son & husband) loved this river, as did my mother’s sister. They both had weekend places here & eventually made Parker their full-time home.

They introduced me to your river, & my own son (age 48 now) was brought here for the first time at age 3. A few years later, he sat at the helm on the boat as we floated under London Bridge, where we saw all of the pieces clearly marked for their intricate jigsaw puzzle reconstruction that first winter.

Our ties bound us to the desert and I’ve cherished every moment on the water, enjoying the desert flora, viewing sunsets brighten beautiful mountains across the river from our deck, for years, or while dining at the new Pirates Landing or Foxx’s, or simply sitting on Strokes quiet patio.

Yes, I’ve had a true fondness for this river & community for almost 50 years. And, an infinity for that funky little place on the hill, overlooking this strip once called Empire Landing.

The property that was consumed by the August 27, 2015 fire, which started in the canyon (set by juveniles, as I was told by La Paz County Sheriff’s Officer, confessed to their parents & him), well below the structure located at 31531 Crystal Circle, within the small cul-de-sac off Crystal Canyon drive on Lakeside 2, also referred to as Bean Pot Hill, by the locals.

For those who aren’t aware, that little Bean Pot cafe was the only landmark for this steep street with it’s climb up to the top of Lakeside 2. When giving directions, it was always, “turn at The Bean Pot”. Though the Bean Pot is long gone, the hill is still referred to as Bean Pot Hill.

The property consist of two lots with a view, along with two funky, but charming, older mobile homes, one 1959 model & the other a larger 1960, with double expansion living room, mobiles were placed together with a full over-roof and hallway down the center, as well as an additional add-on bunkroom with half bath.

Each mobile, or side, of the residence contained 1 bedroom, 1 bath & I designed a kitchen & dining in one, with an office space & wet bar in the larger living room side, which looked out toward Crystal Canyon, the wash, & the river. An small extended covered deck for sitting on the cliff/canyon/river side, as well as covered front porch, with patio furniture on both patios. One separated portion of the front porch was a designated space for an extra refrig, small chest freezer, the washer & drier, as well as a shower. Misters on both the front & rear made for enjoyable sitting or entertaining.

There was no functioning central a/h, but two great swamp coolers, as well as two new wall/window air conditioning units, ceiling fans, which helped maintain a comfy little place for the enjoyment of family & friends. My late husband enjoyed the place as much as I did.

Extra safety precautions were always taken each & every time we left the property to return to our Texas home. Additional water shut-off valves, locked main breaker boxes, as well as all breakers inside & out of both sides of the residence. Metal security doors on each exterior door. Vehicle & PWCs secured. Gates locked, with wonderful neighbors & friends to check on the property regularly, I never worried about leaving the place unattended for extended periods. Friends would often stop there in route to & from Texas & the west coast. Most truly enjoyed & appreciated the location & uniqueness of this “funky” little place.

One feature of the deck, that I particularly liked, but which proved frightfully hazardous, was the decorative bamboo, which is marketed in a roll. I attached this tropical looking roll shade bamboo to the west side tall chain link fencing in order to provide a sense of privacy shade from the hottest afternoon west sun & reflecting window glare from new unsold mobile next door on Crystal Canyon street-side of the deck. That bamboo must have instantly ignited & moved quickly, once winds drove the fire up the cliff, which torched the deck roof & the building was history from that moment.

Because of erosion on those lots through the years, I had large quantities of sand & dirt hauled in twice to reinforce the hill, as well as adding additional compacted soil beyond the deck, enough for Rips little Bobcat to drive across in order to place the fill dirt. There were many pounds of ground-cover seed also broadcast over the hill in an attempt to prevent erosion. However, most only served to fatten dozens of Chacawale lizards.

Due to the nature of the property, there were no excessively expensive furnishings therein, only wonderful (to me) vintage pieces, with a few precious antiques, as well as art. Paintings of my late mother, including her first of Diamond Head, along with paintings of her late older sister. Most furnishings were unique, simply because of my own eclectic nature & taste. But, the place was equipped with all basic appliances, new bedding, basic kitchenware, furniture, basic, but new televisions. There were tools of every type, due to the constant repair & projects each & every trip. As well as things belonging to a friend, who stored them there. They suffered a loss, as well. The lack of insurance coverage, was because my carrier does not insure a property of this nature (two old mobiles connected together) nor property that will remain vacant for up to 10 or 11 months out of the year. And, my belief that it would be cost prohibitive considering the type of structure. Therefore, I had no insurance coverage. The second big mistake!

On the other hand, I feel very fortunate & blessed that my son & I are currently sitting in our Texas home, safe, surrounded by similar (not same paintings or photos, but others) to items that were lost there in Parker. Thus, I’m currently numb to the severe grief emotion that one would suffer, if that was my everything. Very fortunate, indeed! Yes, another life lesson. A reminder that at 71 years of age, we’re never too old to learn another one.

I’d truly like to emphasize the absolute necessity to insure your property, even if it has limitations, unless you can afford to replace every item (I cannot, those items were accumulated over a period of many years). Insurance is available for renters, as well. Please be very wary of that deco bamboo shade material…. it’s a flamethrower in the Ariz climate.

There’s no longer a refuge at 31531 Crystal Circle, but the memories shall always remain, and there will ALWAYS be a special place in my heart for that beautiful Colorado River, the funky place on Bean Pot Hill. Many times I’ve wished that little Bean Pot cafe was still there, with it’s great chili, ice cold beer, burritos, where my husband, Andy, would pull out his guitar & sing folk songs to entertain us & any listeners, with his original tunes, where we laughed & played.

But, it’s all okay now. I’ve recovered from the initial shock & horror. It didn’t take too many pinches to know I was wide awake & not having a nightmare, while watching it all unfold by your excellent coverage on Parker Live. I wish to apologize for my irrational ranting comments during the late night ordeal, no excuse, but I’d like to place blame upon the time difference, was 5 AM my time, lack of sleep & total stressed fried brain. Please forgive my maddening behavior.

My son, Scott, & I commend each of you, who have played a major roll in this event. Ya’ll news casters, the radio station. To all of the firefighters, dispatchers, crews, law enforcement officers, friends, neighbors, caring strangers, acquaintances up & down the river, business owners, operators, staff, we send our utmost & deepest heartfelt love & appreciation! I feel honored to have spent many moments & hours in your establishments, receiving the best hair cuts for myself & little dogs, manis & pedis, massages, meals, dental work on occasion, as well as excellent medical care, shopping, dining & even sipping some. Each of you have played a large part in my life, albeit, short periods of time.

At this stage, it’s unknown if I’ll ever be more than a happy camper, short term visitor or return to the sometimes long-staying (depending upon demands required here in Texas) homeowner/half year resident. This extreme financial hit won’t permit me to rebuild, as much as I wish that we could.

There are so very many individuals that I’d love to personally thank by name, but I hope to be there within a few weeks and hug each of ya’ll personally. Plus, the length of this letter has reach my limit of sleeplessness. It’s been a very long two days, time to call it a night and express sincere gratitude to all of ya’ll.

Most of all, I’d like to express most sincere appreciation to you, personally, and the station for continuing efforts on behalf of the small, but strong, Parker community.

Ya’ll have certainly proved an asset to the area and to me, personally. Can’t count the mornings I’ve awakened to Keith & the precious Juanita, who by the way, hails (by way of the Dakotas) from my south Texas stomping grounds.

Your considerable personal contact with the local residents, as well as part-timers, like me, are so very beneficial in ways, too numerous to count.

Please know that my son & I are extremely grateful for your assistance, as well as the personal contact from you. Please give my greetings & thanks to the community at large. With special hellos to Juanita & Keith. Presume they’re still there with you, although I was only there for a few weeks during winter months each of the last couple years, my radio listening time was limited, & at times, sorely lacking. I apologize, if there may have been any major changes that have slipped past me. Now, that I’ve discovered Parker Live, I shall have an opportunity to catch up & remain UPDATED.

Feel free to “friend” me on facebook or contact me at anytime. I’ve just changed profile photo from recently dear departed 17 yr old kitty-baby, to one taken of myself & son, sitting on the uncovered portion of the deck at 31531 Crystal Circle, from an angle showing Lakeside 5, viewed from across the Crystal Canyon, as it was in early development. My son was 5 years old, when photo snapped, 43 years ago last December.

5 comments

  1. Greg Parker

    What a wonderful person and her memoirs are historical treasures for the Bean Pot Cafe Hill neighborhood.

  2. I am very sorry for the loss of your vacation getaway. Your photo taken 43 years ago would have been taken when we lived further up Crystal Canyon. Well before addresses, we were lots 70 and 207 (side by side). I remember getting off the bus at Jiffy Mart and playing an arcade game or two inside Bean Pot before the climb up that steep, hot hill home. Riding bikes was a challenge. If you went any distance, you would eventually end up with a hill you would have to ride up to get back home. Before addresses, before paved roads, before construction across the canyon. Many times we saw the rains come and water flow through the very bottom of that canyon. Our home was hit by either a tornado or lightning, (not sure which) on August 1, 1976? Not sure of the year. Believe it to be between 8th and 9th grade. We had a thunderstorm roll through and next thing we knew, our power was out and the house was damaged and off the foundation. The next morning we found our power line laying across our chain link fence and our awnings folded over the top of our house and off the foundation. I have photos someplace. My parents moved a double wide trailer in that they lived in well after I graduated PHS and left the area.

  3. I have heard the story of how Bean pot hill got it Name from Bean Pot Restaurant many times.. But I cant help but wonder if anyone out there has a picture of the old Bean Pot Restaurant? I have not idea what it looked like

  4. Marti Stone Gibson

    Thank ya’ll very, very much, each & every one of you!!! Your kind words & support are greatly appreciated. Am just coming to grips with the situation & the finality of the loss of numerous treasured items. I shall return to deal with the aftermath of rubble, with great trepidation.

    It would be nice to see photos of the old Bean Pot Cafe. I was happy to see an over view of the old Sports Valley, as well as that entire portion of the river, the motel/apartments (now condos) prior to larger development, shared on facebook the other day.

    Currently, there is important business here at home, in Texas, that I must focus upon, prior to a trip back to Parker. I’m in hopes it can be completed within the next couple/few weeks.

    I shall be needing to obtain a place to stay, for myself (non smoker, but not adverse if property has smoker in residence) & house broken 7 yr old, 5 1/2 lb toy poodle, a room with bath for the duration that I’ll be there taking care of cleaning up the two lots of all fire debris. If anyone knows of something, or someone with an extra room to spare & share (does not have to be fancy & I do not cook, but would like to be able to keep resturant left-over in refrig & perhaps microwave following day) in close proximity (anywhere close to Parker Strip or both hills) to my property, at a reasonable price, since this has been an incredible financial hit for me, I’d appreciate any information you could provide. You may email me at .

    Thank ya’ll again for your consideration.

    Sincerely,
    Marti

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