Somewhere in the Mojave…..

Hole in the Wall CG Mojave
Hole in the Wall Campground, Mojave National Preserve

Sitting in the middle of the Mojave Desert, I realized I have been terribly remiss with my blog writing! The trouble is I find it hard to write at times while traveling with my husband.  I don’t have a  handle on exactly why that is  – too distracting perhaps or  feeling guilty for retreating to my solitary world of writing in his presence?  For whatever reason, it just seems unfair to ignore him while I write. We are traveling companions and as such have a certain obligation to keep each other company, right?   I have come to the realization that I just have to be more disciplined and take advantage of times when I can write without interruption or guilt – perhaps rising earlier in the morning when he is still sleeping is the answer!! 🙂  I will need to figure out how to manage but for now, I’m going to make an effort to get caught up!  

It’s been a few weeks since we left Guadalupe NP and we have been on the move and busy exploring new places. Our next destination was the Long Term Visitor Area – La Posa South BLM outside of Quartzsite, Arizona. We were joining my sister and her husband there for a short visit. They spend anywhere from one to two months hanging out near Quartzsite every winter with friends and we wanted to finally experience the “Q” lifestyle and spend some quality time with my relatives.

It’s a 2-day drive from Guadalupe NP to Quartzsite so we made an overnight stop at the Saguaro Escapees Co-op in Benson, AZ where we dry camped for one night. If you are not familiar with Escapees, it is an RV club that caters to full-time Rver’s. For a nominal annual membership, we can stay at any of there numerous RV co-ops. Additional membership perks include a quarterly magazine chock full of RV maintenance advice and tips, engaging articles on places of interest and life on the road and a domicile mailing service if you need it. I have written several articles that have been published in the Escapees magazine. They have been very receptive to me which I very much appreciate! We have stayed at the Saguaro Co-op in Benson, AZ a couple of times in the past and find it accessible and comfortable for an overnight stay. For more information on the Escapees Club and the Co-ops, visit their extensive website.

The following day, we stocked up on food in Benson at the local Safeway before heading west to Quartzsite. We also topped off our propane tanks and found that we needed to have them re-certified. Luckily, this particular propane filling station had the credentials to do this. Without an up-to-date sticker, most places will not fill the tanks. We arrived in Quartzsite late afternoon on February 5th and my brother-in-law and sister met us at the fresh water station that sits about a mile into the LTVA to show us the ropes and help us navigate through the maze of RV’s to their location. We quickly learned that even though we filtered the fresh water into our tank most people do not use it for drinking. Apparently, it has a high concentration of salt.  Drinking water – that is put through the process of reverse osmosis to purify – is purchased in town for a 25 cent/per gallon fee. Temporarily, my brother-in-law had a 5-gallon jug of “good” water for us to use until we could fill up our own container in town.

We timed our arrival so that it coincided with my sister’s arranged time-off from her workplace. She continues to work remotely while they travel full-time in their RV.  So, we had 4 days to spend with them as our guide before we were left on our own to explore!

How best to describe Quartzsite?? It’s a winter haven for many snowbirds, an ATVer’s dream location, a gathering place for friends – a lifestyle in and of itself.  At first, Jim and I were a little overwhelmed.  We are used to boondocking in more remote places with very few neighbors. The long term visitor areas around Quartzsite are the RV-version of a suburban neighborhood with acres upon acres of desert dotted with an smorgasbord of accommodations – tents, small vans, converted Bluebird buses, trailers, fifth-wheels and motor-homes.  It is possible to find a more private spot the further into the LTVA you travel.

The establishment of the La Posa Long Term Visitor Area (or LTVA) on Bureau of Land Management property has an interesting history. The LTVA’s were established in the early 1980’s as a way to manage the growing influx of winter visitors to the area in a way that serves both their needs and protects the ecosystem of the surrounding desert.  For a seasonal or bi-weekly fee, visitors can camp within the LTVA boundaries and enjoy the convenience of having a dump station and fresh water station at their disposal.  In addition, there are stations for trash and garbage collection and a few pit toilet facilities interspersed throughout the area. I was amazed to read that the whole LTVA (broken up into 4 separate areas) totals over 11,000 acres! Many people who return for the season year after year appreciate the accessibility of the LTVA to town, the endless miles of ATV trails throughout the region and the facilities offered within each area that allow them to boon-dock in relative comfort and ease.

Initially, upon arrival, I wondered what in the world we were going to do to occupy ourselves for two weeks – the duration we had decided upon and paid for at the bargain rate of $40.00 for 14 days. The area seemed to cater to the off-road crowd and we definitely did not fit that scene. We relied on my relatives to develop our social calendar for the first few days since they are so familiar with the area and also do not operate ATV’s.  I quickly realized the area does have a lot to offer other than 4-wheeling – hiking, biking, wildlife refuge exploring, local historical places of interest and entertainment – and we managed to experience quite a bit in our short time here! There are some “must-dos” for anyone visiting the area and my relatives insured that we hit most of them! I’ll re-count our two weeks in chronological order – with short photo essays and multiple posts. Our current location is short on cell service accessibility and I have to dole this out in short snippets!

February 6, 2020 – Field Trip to Palm Canyon and Yuma, AZ

Palm Canyon

Our first adventure took us to Palm Canyon in the KOFA Wildlife Refuge – a short distance down the road from La Posa South LTVA. We turned off of Highway 95 at Palm Canyon Road and drove the 7+ miles back the dirt road to the trailhead. Along the road back to the canyon is also a popular spot for free boondocking – none of the amenities of the LTVA’s but less crowded.

Palm Canyon (4 of 4)
Looking out on the Sonoran Desert from the entrance to Palm Canyon

The short trail leads to the interior of the canyon and a glimpse at some rare native California Fan Palm trees that grow in the narrow canyon. It was amazing to see these trees growing in such a harsh environment!  It’s hard to  spot the palm trees in the pictures – give it a try! 😉

Palm Canyon (1 of 4)
The palm trees are in the canyon between the two peaks!
Palm Canyon (2 of 4)
A cropped photo to show a close-up of the canyon – the shade makes it hard to see!
Palm Canyon (3 of 4)
A motley crew – brother-in-law Harry, sister Vicki and my better half, Jim!

Yuma and the Territorial Prison State Historical Park

After leaving Palm Canyon, we continued on down to Yuma, AZ to visit the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historical Park and grab a bite to eat.

Before hitting the state park, we dropped into the aptly named Prison Hill Brewing Company to enjoy a good meal and quench our thirst!

Yuma Prison (1 of 19)

Walking through parts of downtown Yuma, I was fascinated with some of the colorful wall murals.

Yuma Prison (4 of 19)Yuma Prison (2 of 19)Yuma Prison (5 of 19)

The Yuma Prison State Historical Park has an interesting history. It was built in 1875 to house prisoners within the territory and operated until the early 1900’s. The prison housed both male and female prisoners with infractions that ranged from simple assault to embezzlement, robbery and murder. It was a model prison for the time period and the prisoners enjoyed comforts not available to many townsfolk.

Yuma Prison (14 of 19)

The superintendent Frank Ingalls and his wife, Madora Ingalls, were progressive in their approach to prison reform and made continuous efforts to improve the lives of the prisoners.  Madora Ingalls established a prison library that housed over 1,000 books!

Yuma Prison (13 of 19)

She was greatly admired by the prisoners and upon her departure, they honored her with a signed resolution thanking her for her work on their behalf. It was printed in the Arizona Sentinel on April 10, 1886:

The inmates of the Territorial Prison held a meeting last Monday, at which the following resolution was proposed and unanimously adopted and signed by 104 prisoners.

WHEREAS, the departure of Mrs. Frank S. Ingalls is near at hand, and we owe her our thanks for the good work done on our behalf,

Be it resolved, that we, the prisoners confined in this prison, attest our thanks and sincere appreciation for the establishment of a Library which has proven a great source of enjoyment, and has also tended to improve us morally and intellectually, and further,

Be it resolved, that we thank and appreciate her attitude towards those whom she endeavored to cheer and comfort while sick and in distress, and further,

Be it resolved, that the good influence instilled by her kind work shall prove to us, in the future, as a stepping stone to society and good citizenship, and further,

Be it resolved, that by unanimous approval, a copy of these resolutions be handed to the lady in token of our high esteem.”

Some of the remaining buildings on the prison site:

I was particularly intrigued by the women prisoners! They were a formidable group!

Yuma Prison (12 of 19)

My next post will take us to a national wildlife refuge!  Stay tuned!

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