Monday, January 2, 2012

Winter home 2011-12: Part Three–Quartzsite, AZ (edited Dec. 11, 2018)

We are having a stormy cold windy week. 
Looking forward to WARM coming back.

I have been spending most of my time at the Rock Club and am now a Sawyer-in-Training (left), and also a Lapidary Shop (right) Foreman.  I’ll concentrate on those two activities this year… and next year expand into the Silversmithing Shop and the Faceting Shop.   I’m learning a lot about how to cut stones and then how to finish them and create jewelry.  (The guy on the left is our Club President and the other on the right is always looking for a volunteer to do this or that!) IMGA0997IMGA0068
As a Lapidary Shop Foreman, once everyone has paid and signed in, I have time to volunteer to work on other projects… like painting this bench (left).  And the Club had a float in the Christmas Parade this week and it won the prize for the “Best Lighted” float… here it is being prepared (right).
It’s a wonderful bunch of people, really.  I have a new friend, Laurie, who is here with her mother.  They come down every year from northern Michigan.  Laurie knows how to do about everything… silver smithing, rock cutting, beading, lapidary, etc.  Very talented, especially at hiding from my camera.  That’s her Mom below.  They have graciously offered to let me park my trailer (which has too many rocks in it, lol) at their home/RV on Long Term Visitor Parking.  Next year I plan to park there near them, but this year I didn’t have the $ for the fee.   They invited me over for a couple meals.  They are delightful.
That’s Laurie’s Mom in the Wheelchair, and new friend Sue in the foreground (Sue’s husband Bill is my Supervisor and probably the next President of the Rock Club). 
It was very special to me to find the Vandweller groups… so many like-minded people (made me feel “normal”), but to find a whole colony of rock hounds and rock fanatics, is just pure icing on the cake.  Truly, I don’t see how life can get any better, not even if I had the money to have a multi-million dollar R.V.  I, in fact, would not take that monster if the guy gave it to me and also gave me enough money to run it the rest of my life.  Not a bit jealous.  I’ve said for a long time, if I suddenly had a whole lot of money… all I would change is to get a high-top, another solar panel and a couple more batteries, and stop worrying about how to pay for the next tank of gas or next shower.  I would also take every darn class at the Rock Club and pay for each open lab session that I could get to and I would probably make a large donation to the Rock Club so they could modernize.  I wouldn’t change anything else about my lifestyle, ‘cause for me, this is as good as it gets, until tomorrow.
I’m not sure what the large bird is sitting up on the rock, but it’s great to get out into the wilderness and observe such sights.
I’m also meeting many like-minded friends who, like me, think it perfectly normal to wander about the open desert… looking down and picking up rocks, and filling every nook and cranny of van/car/rv with rocks (reminds me of the Long Long Trailer with Lucy Ball).  We can’t help it, it’s an obsession we all love.   I have been picking up rocks since I ran into my first large construction site pile of gravel when I was four years old (near our home).  My Grandma gave me a small Sucrets cough drop box where I stored my jewels and treasures… imagining that they were diamonds and rubies and pearls, etc. (why do parents always throw those things away??)  Wish I had that silly little box of jewels now.
Field trip to the Red Jasper Claim.
I’ve been on a couple of Rock Club field trips and have decided  “SwankieWheels” isn’t going on any more of them.  It’s just too darned hard on “Wheels”.  It was not recommended that I take it to the last site (only short wheel bases should do it not 155” bases) and better yet 4x4, but I figured if it got rough, they would stop and let me park it and then ride with someone else the rest of the way.  They didn’t stop and I kept following.  The Wagon Master took a wrong turn and had to back track us and then I got the hitch hung up on a rock going down a wash, and rear wheels didn’t come down to the ground… we had to dig around the rock… and finally we got it off the rock but not without damage.
Then I parked it and rode the rest of the way with another.  I plan to remount the trailer wiring above on the bumper… a guy showed me how he had done his.
A couple more of the Hi Jolly BLM area residents, taken this morning (12/06/11).
Things are picking up out here in Quartzsite but folks say the vendors are not bringing in new stock, as they expect a very slow year.  This town goes from having  a couple hundred residents in the Summer to having over a million in January for the big show. Right now it is a boom town for sure… changing rapidly each day.  It’s a sight to see.  Another local said that they use 4x4 and drive through the washes/gullies to get around town and avoid the bottleneck of Snowbirds on the main roads.
I’m looking forward to having more Vandwellers arrive and to meeting and visiting those attending the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR).  See you then. 
Other RTR Links:

Suanne from Washington State
Ramblings of a Techno-Viking
TwoKnivesKate’s link
Vandweller News

When you get to town, find the Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club and ask for me… Charlene Swankie.  Or, until 12/14 I will be at Hi Jolly BLM area at night… and here is my rig.  South Dakota plates.  (I’m not by those trees, but off to the right in the wide open  – first tire tracks you see going off to the right after turning in to Hi Jolly, near John’s rig… see picture above.)
2010_02_19_SLABS2_ 043
Ye Ol’ SwankieWheels

The New Year - 2012

Well, the old year couldn’t have ended any better.  Thanks to a vandweller connecting me with Liz, I now have a new lifelong friend and soul sister.  We met in the desert on BLM land and first thing we had in common…. was matching key lanyards.  What a hoot.  That was just the beginning.


We drove on out to find a more wilderness area and made camp, talked, giggled, walked her dogs, etc.  Then a neighbor came by, Cliff, and asked if we liked fish.  Said he would bring us some for supper the next day.  The next day he brought us even more fish.  Wow!


Our camp was surrounded by more wildlife than I have seen in any Quartzsite area BLM land.  Quail, doves, sparrows, and some other little bird I didn’t know.


Gamble Quail ?

More giggles and laughter as we told each other our stories, followed by the best fish I’ve ever eaten… Ocean Snapper I think he said.  He fishes all over  the country full time, has a large freezer, vacuum packs and quick freezes it – then I guess he runs about the desert on his ATV giving it out to homeless ladies?  First meal I’ve cooked in ages… guess I haven’t forgotten how.


The meal was followed by more laughs and a really awesome sunset.



The next day did get better, we had free breakfast and free lunch at La Mesa RV.  Three free meals in a row… how can it get better? But it will.

I took an early morning walk to scout out a better camp… because we had parked on top of an ant colony.  This is what our camp looked like then.  A lot of people ask, what is it like out there…. well, BIG.


We relocated and then I made Scrambled Eggs and Ham for breakfast.  Had found these bell peppers at Trader Joes and they are to die for.  Very yummy.  Liz’s furries looked on mournfully.  Last night they got a whopping big piece of fish that slipped off the plate.  They got no ham and eggs.  Great pooches.  Great New Year’s Day.


Rescued dogs, BooBoo in background and Lew-Lew in foreground.


I experienced some social trauma right before I met Liz and was pretty upset… and she just let me vent and vent until I got it all out.  I had heard on the radio a couple of days ago, that "Happy people don't make New Years Resolutions. I'm not happy about ONE thing so I made ONE resolution: "I will not speak the word "arrogant" in 2012, nor two names that have the initials JL and GC. One hates Quartzsite the other hates me... but I love both Quartzsite and myself… so moving happily on assured that each day will be better than the last as I continue to grow and learn.

Happy New Year friends and I am wishing you all the good health and happiness that I am feeling right now.  Oh, thanks to a dear Canuck I know, I now have a new tool… the Swankie Whammie!   I’m all ready for whatever 2012 brings my way.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.