Imperial Dam

After the Yuma Territorial Prison, I set a course for the Imperial Dam Long-Term Visitor Area. This has been on my list of things to see ever since I learned that my LTVA season pass I got in Quartzsite is also valid here. It was a fairly short drive from Yuma. Google took me some weird convoluted way through seemingly endless crop fields in the desert. (That seems wrong to me, but that’s irrigation for you.)

I wasn’t entirely sure when I’d arrived. I saw signs for places like Quail Hill, Kripple Kreek (self-contained units only), and Gravel Pit (self-contained units only), but not for the main entrance like the LTVAs in Quartzsite. I pulled into South Mesa and stumbled across the hub of all LTVA activity — the water, dump station, dumpsters, and the main office. I cruised around a little, then ended up parking in an open area within 500 feet of a bathroom, as required.

Despite being late February, the area is about as densely packed as Quartzsite was at its peak in January. Not my favorite thing, but for a change of scenery it would do, at least through mid-week when my Amazon order arrives in Yuma. On the plus side, the wind isn’t as bad, and it’s a few degrees warmer, which would be nice as we go into a “cold” snap back into the 60s. What amazed me the most, though, was that the bathroom I parked near had actual running water! Toilets that flushed! It’s amazing how our standards change after some time on the road.

Though we’re not traveling together, a familiar face soon joined me, Melinda from our camp in Quartzsite. She felt like doing some exploring, too, and ended up going in the same direction as me. Not long after, Birgit asked what I was up to and where, wanting to travel someplace warmer than Pahrump, Nevada. It looks like she and Tom will be joining us as well. We’re getting the band back together!

We made some minor improvements to the fire ring we’d parked next to and enjoyed a nice campfire that night. Simultaneously, I found quite an active group of local ham radio people on 146.520 MHz, the national calling frequency. They chat each night at 7:30 pm and are a very friendly group. I already feel more comfortable with them than I do with the Quartzsite area hams, who seem like more of an isolated clique. After the net here, different people kept calling me to share local info, invite me for motorcycle trail rides, and literally wave from the RV next door. That particular guy couldn’t come outside because he’s under COVID quarantine, but at least the radio lets him still be social instead of isolated.

On Monday, yet another wind storm blew through. It wasn’t so bad at Imperial Dam, more like an average day in Quartzsite. I was struggling with my internet connection, though. T-Mobile is still a paperweight. While my one bar of Verizon signal worked during the weekend, it was proving inadequate for the work I needed to do. Someone on the ham radio told me that where I was parked was probably the worst place for cell service in the area, and it was better elsewhere. So I hopped on the bike and went exploring.

There are plenty of paved and dirt roads around the area, all quite easy for the KLR. I ended up following signs toward North Shore, which put me next to the Senator Wash Reservoir. There was camping up here and, to my pleasant surprise, toilets. Even my van, which does not meet BLM’s “self-contained” requirements, could camp here, and the dirt road was good enough to get it here as well. I found a small peninsula with its own toilet at the entrance, and completely unoccupied. That’s one good thing about exploring on a Monday — all the weekenders have left. Even better, I have three to four bars of Verizon signal at this new location. I buzzed back to camp, consulted with Melinda, packed up, and we convoyed to our new camp on the water.

I mean, look at this. This is the view out my front door. My home is parked on lakeside property. People pay out the nose for this kind of thing, yet here I am, doing exactly the same thing on a much smaller budget. There are even trees, something I haven’t seen for the past few months. They also help break the wind so it’s not so gusty here as it was back in the center of the Imperial Dam universe.

Lister wholeheartedly approves of this change in scenery. He has a nice bed of pine needles to lie down on under the trees. He has a great view over the water, so he can watch the birds flying around and the occasional fish splashing below. He seems happy here.

And then there’s the sunset. Again, people pay big bucks for a view like this, and here I am, saving big bucks and getting this view. This is probably the best spot I’ve called home yet on this journey.

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