Little did we know when we headed out in the Jeep today that we would see one of the rarest and most astounding sights in the desert: a small herd of Bighorn Sheep. We were creeping along in the Jeep, stopping occasionally to grab a geocache, when we rounded a corner and saw the grand heads of two young rams. I was so excited and afraid of scaring them that I turned off the Jeep without even putting it in park. We slowly drew the camera out of its bag and started shooting pictures through the windshield. They spooked and ran down the wash, only to exit on the other site in full view.
Meanwhile, we spotted more bighorns on the hill next to us, including one who was resting and a massive ram standing nearby. It gave me chills to see them.
I usually stay behind and work while Terry forces Kurt to go geocaching, but since this particular trip seemed to involve some dirt and Jeep driving, I volunteered to be the driver. What I really wanted to do was go four-wheeling, but this was close enough.
After spending some time figuring out which dirt road to take out of town, we finally found one that seemed to wander off in the right direction, so we headed out. Quartzsite seems to be the only town that I’ve ever seen that seems to be surrounded by dirt and various and sundry washes. In fact, we had to pull two trucks out of the washes earlier in the day after they decided to use the wash as overflow parking for the giant flea market. I think their shopping day was cut short a bit.
We had heard about Quartzsite, Arizona as the snowbird capitol of the RV world, so we decided to make this our first stop since it’s January and we don’t want to get too cold.
Here is the info:
It’s located about 20 miles west of the California border along I-10. It is easily accessed from the interstate by taking the Quartzsite exit. We are staying in a campground managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in one of their long-term visitor areas (LTVA’s). They really do allow you to stay long-term — 7 months to be exact. For a mere $180 you can stay from September 15 to April 15 without having to move. You can buy your permit at each of the kiosks at the entrances. If you get in when the office is closed go ahead and park, then go by the office as soon as they open (9-4).
There are no hookups, so come with full and empty tanks (you know which ones are which). Dumpsters are available at all sites, and dump stations and free water are available at La Posa South LTVA. BLM trail maps can also be purchased at the kiosks.
After a busy few months of not really being able to get out in the Jeep, we finally got to take her out to collect more dust on January 13.
Not wanting to go it alone (never a good idea), and not knowing where to go anyway, I put out a call to our four-wheeling Escapees ‘Birds of a Feather’ (BOF) group to see if anyone wanted to go. After several emails back and forth, Gary Hester said that he would meet us that morning. Gary had driven down from Lake Havasu in his 2006 Jeep Rubicon. Surprisingly, he had Dick Harris with him. Dick and his wife Carolyn had camped with us last summer at Mammoth Lakes after I put out another messages out to the Escapees group.
Gary came equipped with a trail book and lots of enthusiasm. Neither of us knew the trails in the area, so we chose Dripping Springs, a moderate trail that seemed to have lots of interesting things to see. We headed out of Quartzsite at about 10 AM with me in the lead (never a good idea since I have trouble finding the Jeep in large parking lots — I’ve learned to look for the CB antenna). My odometer is also off some, but I thought that with the short distances between the turns listed in the book that we couldn’t go too far wrong. Or so I thought.
Just because the name of the parade seems a little high and jolly doesn’t mean that that was what it was. We had actually found out earlier in the week that a guy named Hi Jolly made himself famous in Quartzsite for the herd of camels that he used to shepherd through here. Yes, that’s right — camels. Turns out the government had this brilliant idea to use them during the civil war since they were better than mules as pack animals. They even like creosote bushes and can carry 600 pounds. But I digress.