Gone South

I’d had it. Besides being sick of the cold mornings, Quartzsite has just gotten too crowded for me. It’s not just the crowds, but the hustle and bustle of a big city. If I wanted to deal with that, I’d go to… well, a big city.

After the RTR volunteer giveaway on Saturday (I didn’t win anything but got a cool sticker and patch), I checked the weather forecast for the Yuma area. While the days were only a few degrees warmer than Quartzsite, the nights were predicted to be in the mid-40s, while Quartzsite would remain near freezing overnight. Right then and there, I decided it was time to head to Imperial Dam. I’d planned to visit Skooliepalooza with Jenn to see Arin yesterday, but with a nasty wind storm moving in Sunday night, I decided to bail out and get down there before the wind picked up. Driving a tall van and trailer in the wind is no fun, and something I try to avoid whenever possible. The wind was coming to both Quartzsite and Yuma, so there was no avoiding it no matter where I was.

Patti was similarly tired of the cold and chaos, and also wanted to make the move south. So I left mid-morning to stock up on supplies in Yuma (I was out of many things because I simply didn’t want to deal with the crowds and traffic in Quartzsite), then find a place to “live” at Imperial Dam. While I could go camp right by the lake with my recreation fee area pass, still valid until the end of March, Patti didn’t have one, so I looked around the LTVA itself for a place both of us could park together. Our LTVA passes we bought in Quartzsite are also valid here, and at any other LTVA in the Yuma BLM district.

After a few wrong turns and not being able to turn around with the trailer, I found a spot that was practically made for us. Someone had done a fair bit of landscaping, and there was room for Patti and me to circle the wagons, with our doors facing each other, for a nice campsite together. She pulled in right at sunset. We’ll have to time share outdoor time between Lister and her dog, Charley, but that won’t be a problem.

I didn’t bother setting up any kind of camp. With wind gusts up to 50 mph predicted, everything would have to get packed away anyway, even the motorcycle. I even took down my Starlink antenna overnight when the wind got fierce. There was no point in risking it on my roof when I wasn’t using it while I slept. The good news is the outside temperature only got down to 46º here overnight, which is quite livable inside the insulated van.

Today, the magnets are doing a great job holding my Starlink antenna down in the wind. But with gusts up to 50 mph, I wanted some extra security, especially since the wind is coming straight out of the north and would blow it right off the roof if it came loose. I ran a strap around the antenna base and my roof vent. The wind is so strong that I couldn’t have done this myself without Patti’s help to wrap the strap around the front of the vent! But it’s done, and I feel better about having it out in this wind with a backup system to catch it if something goes wrong.

Lister is not pleased with this weather. Wind aside, though, this was the right move for me. Running myself out of groceries rather than dealing with the chaos in town is a sign that my anxiety was beginning to spiral out of control. Everyone was rushing around, going to or from one event or another. The RTR just ended, and the Big Tent, Skooliepalooza, and Quartzfest just started. That’s not the case here, though. The vibe is pretty similar to Quartzsite in November when things were calm, which I enjoy much more. There’s also the Senator Wash Desert Ratt Pack to chat with on the ham radio each night, and sporadically during the day if people are around. We’re all checking in with each other on the air to see how we’re holding up in the wind. It would be nice to catch up with them in person over a campfire later this week, but that will depend mainly on the wind, which is supposed to die down after today.

With fewer distractions, I’m looking forward to buckling down and getting some work done this week, both on Smokey Da Van stuff as well as my freelance gigs. Yes, multiple. In addition to ADVRider, I’ll be contributing at ATV.com. I’m also taking on an editor role at UTV Sports, with occasional contributions as I can. I have even more possibilities in the works as well that I need to follow up on, without the current chaos of Quartzsite distracting me.

I only plan to spend a week or two here. Quartzsite is my home base, and I have another round of packages starting to make their way to me. Amazon takes two weeks to deliver to Quartzsite, which makes me question why I bother paying for Prime anymore. By then, the events in and around Quartzsite will be over, and people will begin drifting out of the area, which is when I will drift back in. The weather should start warming up in February, and I can start making plans for my trip back east. An interesting option has come up that would change my travel plans but could make the trip more enjoyable, and reunite me with some friends I haven’t seen since last year.

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