As I crossed the border into Arizona I had to reflect the last time I traveled this road. It was on return from my three-week stint as the Chief of Operations for Arizona State Parks. It seemed like a great idea to take this new opportunity after retiring from California State Parks and see what I could contribute to Arizona’s small but spectacular park system. Well the honeymoon was very short in that job and it wasn’t long into my time there (two and a half weeks to be exact) that I realized it was not the job for me.
Without going into greater detail I just want to say that the parks and the field staff of this agency were excellent as most dedicated parks employees tend to be (just revisit www.altnps.org as I mentioned in a previous post). The best part was that I had the great fortune to meet some great people a couple of whom I am still in contact with and visiting. If you want further on the subject of AZ State Parks it will need to be an off-line discussion. Needless to say this was a great example of the “grass is always greener” phrase!
So here I was heading back into Arizona this time as a retired full-time RV’er headed for the RV show of all shows that happens in Quartzite every January. For those not familiar with the area, each winter massive numbers of “snowbirds” descend on this “oasis” in the desert. A “Snowbird” as defined by Wikipedia is “A snowbird is a person who moves from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada and migrates southward in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Arizona, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.”
So if you were picturing fields of beautiful white birds you couldn’t have been more wrong!
And although I truly love the desert, Quartzite is far from what I would consider a beautiful desert “oasis”. But here we were camping at the Arizona Oasis RV park along the Colorado River just inside the Arizona border.
The RV park was nice enough, a place to park with hookups and a nice place to walk along the river.
It was only about 20 minutes from Quartzite so an easy drive to the craziness.
It was the last two days of the “official” show under the big tent where you could find just about anything you need for an RV lifestyle. Information was flowing and you could have a discussion with RV experts about everything from backup cameras to the best routes to Alaska. If you have questions or are just interested in some of the new products on the market this is the place to be.
Obviously not getting enough in just one day, I went back to the show a second day to purchase a new wireless bakup camera (my installed camera on the motorhome has quit working) and have a custom wood sign made onsite. Lots of RV’ers have signs in their RV’s with their names, home states and various other information. For me, advertising my blog sounded like a good way to go and after three tries (spelling unfortunately was an issue) I came home with a custom blog advertisement.
While killing time waiting for the custom sign work I stumbled upon an eclectic Quartzite landmark. The “Reader’s Oasis” (see a theme here?) used bookstore was jam packed full of a crazy assortment of hardback and paperback books. I wandered the store for quite some time before stumbling on the store’s owner Paul Winter also known as “The Naked Bookseller”. Not really fully naked, Mr. Winter (known as “Sweetie Pie”) hustles around the store wearing nothing but a strategically placed sock and a signature cowboy hat. I did take this photo from the Internet as I was still recovering from the shock of running into Sweetie Pie and didn’t get up the nerve to ask to take my own photo! I did purchase a few paperbacks to add to my reading pile and would recommend anyone passing through the area stop in to say “hi” and enjoy the massive assortment of books and the true “character” of the desert.
“Too much good fortune can make you smug and unaware. Happiness should be like an oasis, the greener for the desert that surrounds it.” – Rachel Field
A few nights was enough to get my fill of the Quartzite experience and it was time to move on. Next stop Lost Dutchman State Park near Mesa Arizona, one great example of Arizona’s State Park system.