Blast from the Past

Yesterday I had a visitor from several past lives ago. Before I was a van nut, I was a car nut. I drove autocross, track days, and the occasional rallycross or ice time trial. That’s how I met Chang. He always drove well in whatever discipline he chose, usually in a Honda of some kind. He even had a shop for a while, which I took my cars to, even when they weren’t Hondas. A few days ago he looked me up, said he was going to be passing through the area, and wanted to visit. Of course, I said yes!

He’s on his way to Borrego Springs, California, to compete in a 12-hour bicycle race. He got serious about cycling during COVID, and I know from the past that when he gets serious about something, he’s going to do well. Quartzsite was pretty much on his way between Petrified Forest and Joshua Tree National Parks, so after getting a little bit lost, he came to my camp to hang out a bit.

Though it’s a completely different context than we’ve ever hung out in before, he fit in perfectly. He’s temporarily converted his Honda (of course) Odyssey into a camper minivan and has been living the van life all the way across the country. I laughed when he said this reminded him of the movie Nomadland because part of the movie took place and was filmed here. “You’re soaking in it,” I told him.

Chang is my first friend from the back east to come to visit me out here. I know it was more because I was on the way, not a dedicated trip just for me, but it was still nice to meet up and hang out. The longer I spend out west, the more distant a memory my life back east becomes. I tend to remember the bad parts and the reasons I left more than anything. It’s good to have a reminder of the good parts that I genuinely enjoyed, like the car racing and the people I used to do it with. I may now prefer to spend my weekends taking a relaxing motorcycle ride than driving around parking lots as fast as I can dodging traffic cones, but I definitely enjoyed it a great deal at the time. The video above is one of my runs at an event in Maine where I did pretty well.

We talked about old times and caught up on what we’ve been up to lately. We were treated to a spectacular sunset, inspiring Chang to break out his professional-grade camera and take some pictures. I invited him to spend the night here before moving on to Joshua Tree, an offer he took me up on. This meant we could enjoy a leisurely dinner and beer, as well as the amazing night sky. As soon as he mentioned he had a microwave oven in his van, Yellow Wolf and I gave him some microwave popcorn we had kicking around because we had no way to pop it ourselves! He left bright and early this morning. Although he was only here for one night, he got the full Quartzsite van life experience during his stay.

In other news, I built the beginning of my trailer’s electrical system. I installed the fuse box (same as I have in my van, except smaller), wired it up to one of my old AGM batteries, and to the LED strip lights I’d already installed in the trailer. Now I can turn my lights on and off from the doorway, without having to step inside and turn on my Jackery to do it. In fact, I don’t need my Jackery in the trailer at all now. I’ll add more circuits later for outlets and charging stations once I figure out where I want them to be.

Tomorrow I have an appointment at the Arizona DOT office in Parker to get my Arizona driver’s license and transfer my vehicles here. I spent a bit of time yesterday getting all my ducks in a row as best I can for this, given the info on the website. As a bonus, I now have genuine RV insurance for my van, which is and will continue to be titled as a motorhome. Not only does it have all the required vehicle insurance, but also the equivalent of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance as well, protecting my belongings on the inside as well. Progressive makes it super easy to do this and is one of the few insurance companies that do. Even this comprehensive insurance plan is much less expensive than my existing car insurance from Florida. I may have to pay a small income tax as an Arizona resident, but the insurance savings alone will offset that.

Now all I can do is bring all the paperwork I have and hope for the best. All too often a DMV website will tell you what paperwork you need, but the clerk will deny you because you don’t have some paperwork that wasn’t mentioned, so you leave and come back with it, only to have the second clerk tell you you don’t need that after all, but you do need this other paperwork that nobody bothered to mention until now… I’m hoping this experience isn’t like that. I know others who have successfully done what I’m trying to do, and the Parker office sees people all the time who are “moving” to Quartzsite like I am, so they should know what to do with me. If all goes well, I’ll write a guide on moving to Arizona similar to the one I wrote for Florida, and put on my new Arizona license plates when I’m done.

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