RV's and Ashpoles

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Where I stayed
Voyager RV Resort

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

     It only took us twelve hours on the road to get here yesterday from San Diego.  We did stop to let Chance swim in the Colorado River in Yuma, Ariz.  He loved that and his fur is still soft from it.  I miss the ocean already.  So here we are back in the desert.  Nothin but creosote and cacti, lizards and jackrabbits and howling wind (40 mph today).  At least it's warm, in the 70's, and that's why all these RV'ers are here.  That and for the yearly gem and mineral show which is huge and attracts dealers, lookiloos and buyers from all over the country.  There is also a large contingent of dealers specializing in beads and jewelry making supplies and Ilana went out today to see what she could find and maybe learn a few tricks.  I took Chance for a walk in the open desert today and he picked up a nasty Occotillo cactus thorn in his chin.  He wouldn't let me pull it (hurt him too much) so I had to be fast, risking to be stuck myself.  I was lucky.  Those damn things have barbed thorns and they hurt. 
     As RV parks go, this is one of the biggest; 1500 sites.  It's just one big featureless parking lot out  in the desert, a palm tree here and there but not many.  Otherwise...it's one thorny place amigo.  Full of barrel cactus, occotillo and prickly pear mostly.   Dozens of other thorny plants I don't know the names of, but know enough to stay away from.  Don't get me wrong, I like the desert.  It has it's own beauty.  But it's not a soft beauty, all green and flowery.  I commented to a guy at the gas station, "man, it's screamin hot, ain't it?"  "What do you mean," he said.  "You mean real hot?  This ain't nothin.  Hot is 120 in the shade like you get here in the Summer."  I asked him what he did for fun in Yuma.  "We take this here jeep into the Mexican desert and drive around," he said.  They call these kind of people "Desert Rats," even if they're from Indiana, as the plates on the jeep indicated.  I would say that we are definitely not Desert Rats, even if we are from Santa Fe, as indicated on my ball cap.
     Walking past the long line of 45 foot buses on the way to the laundry I am struck by how many people do the "snowbird" thing and also by how many do it in style, spending $300,000 to a million on their luxury motor-homes.  They sport names like Essex, Royal Coach, Ultimate Liesure, Adventurer.  And some people hang little personalized scalloped wooden signs over their license plates or from their awnings, you know, the ones where they've used a wood burning tool to make messages like, "Bill and Agnes, the Bearcats," or, my favorite, "The Ashpoles."  That seems to me an unfortunate enough name without advertising it.
     There is an upside to these RV resorts though and that is the wealth of classes and activities you can participate in if you are so inclined.   On our morning walk we discovered a silversmithing workshop where a man working on a beautiful stone and silver pendant told us all about the processes involved.  Next door was a lapidary workshop where vacationers were working on cutting and polishing stones.  There was also a pottery workshop and a fused glass workshop, a huge ballroom with wood floor and stage, where a class of seventy seniors, mostly women, were taking line dancing lessons from a young lady on the stage.  In another room a brass band was practicing, playing Dixieland Jazz and playing pretty good.  Next door was a billiards room with men at the tables.  The poker room wasn't open but the Ma Jong room was, and full of ladies too.  We walked into a small library were you can just walk out with whatever you want to read.  I grabbed Dicken's Great Expectations, one of Ilana's favorites.
     Adjacent to the rows of workshops are the game areas; shuffleboard, tennis courts, bocce ball, paddle ball, and people were out in numbers enjoying the activities.  There are two swimming pools and one is for classes in water aerobics and such.  On top of all of this there are group bike rides, group hikes, group excursions to events in the Tucson area, outdoor photography treks, and on and on. 
     This is not exactly what you call, "roughing it."  Anyway, there is lots to see and do here.  The Sonoran desert is beautiful and full of exotic wintering birds.  There is the gem and mineral show and a big annual art show in the small, charming town of Tebec, just south of here.  I've never been to Tombstone so we will have to do that.  And we hope to get Ilana set up making jewelry in her spare time, which we have plenty of, as you know............
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ellie on

This was really fun to read! Wow, a whole culture of activities in the desert. That sounds great! Are the people welcoming? Are the activities attended by 20 or 200? Thanks, Marty, for another great armchair adventure. Give a hug to Chance and give a tug-of-war for me.

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