The desert is in bloom, the temperature is in the mid to upper 80s and the town population is down to a few thousand. And, I have to say, life in a small town is pretty nice.
Granted, Quartzsite isn’t just any small town. This place is an odd mixture of carnival, flea market, gem show, tourist destination (with very few tourist attractions) and it desperately wants to be a real city. Or at least its politicians are seeking this outcome. The Palm Springs of Arizona.
Transient wanderers walk through town amongst the stray snowbirds who are prolonging their winter retreat until the last possible moments. The town drunks are more prevalent now and nothing is hidden on these quiet streets. And the daily trips of the locals on their bicycles heading to the market for beer are more reliable than the postman.
I’m currently battling a case of writer’s block, usually an indication that I’ve stayed in one place too long- or I’ve had too much of my aunt’s homemade banana bread and the yummy, sugary goodness has zapped the creative juju out of my brain. I utilize the wonderful art of sauntering to try and alleviate my blockage. Alas, as this entry is proof, my block is still here, but I did work on my tan and see some odd occurrences today and overhear some interesting conversations on my aimless walks.
On the way to the post office, I noticed an odd group of guys parked next to a 30 foot dilapidated RV with a flat tire that limped onto our street the other night and landed itself at the vacant lot to our park. A lot which is home to some very, very odd fellows and is frequented by the police several times a week. For what purposes, I can only imagine. These fellows are stuffing plastic garbage bags full of crap from the RV and placing it into an old blue van. The kind of van you walk by quickly and open the eyes in the back of your head just to be sure. Upon my return, the van was gone.
Later that day, I walked to the coffeeshop and sat on the porch to try and find something profound to write about. Obviously, I’m still searching. I listened to the barista and her new employee talk about the changes in this town of 3500 people over the past few years. They mentioned the price of food- which is insanely expensive. Six dollars for 4 sticks of generic, chemical laden butter is just wrong. They went on to mention the cost of housing. Property in this semi ghost town has skyrocketed over the past few years as more people park the RV permanently and try to recreate California. The barista is a sweet woman who works hard to provide for her 4 kids and is about to be married. Again. She mentioned finding a 40 foot fifth wheel with 3 slide-outs, but couldn’t imagine having all four children and her soon to be husband inside the home at once. I couldn’t imagine this either. But that’s life in this tiny little town if you are not of the Have’s.
While finding reasons not to write at the espresso outpost, the blue van filled with garbage bags drove by 3 times. And I passed them again on the walk home.
After dinner, at a loss for words- literally- and with no reason to walk to McDonalds and buy a $1 espresso (yes, I support my addiction with the cheap stuff in this town. No Starbucks, what can I say) I went for another walk. More of an aimless, after dinner, ‘let’s watch the sunset behind the mountains and hope another character from the story gods appears’ walk. I passed the same familiar faces. This town is so small that I pass the same people walking, biking or trolling in their electric wheelchairs every day. The guy who smokes while driving his electric chair attached to an oxygen tank waves at me from across the road. An older gentlemen stopped in the middle of the four-lane road to see if I needed a ride. The guy who runs one of the swap meet stands and sold me a copy of the ‘Tibetan Book on Living and Dying’ for 2 bucks waved to me as he closed shop and asked how my day went. He’s seen me at least three times today walking the streets. As the sun sets in this town, the folks gather around camp fires, share dinner at the picnic tables and ride their 4 wheelers through the washes on the way to the local bars, all two of them.
I figured it was time to walk home once the sun disappeared behind the hills. I turned down my street and came to the empty lot with the dilapidated RV. A woman was hollering outside the RV with her dog. I had to remove the iPod to hear this.
“They sold me a hot RV. Bastards!” She yelled to no one.
“Not you.” she pointed to me as I walked by. “I’m not talking to you, just yelling at these guys.” There was no one there. “This thing is stolen. They sold me a stolen RV.” Insert foul language here. I passed this woman on my first walk around lunchtime. She was walking up the road, with a little swagger, in her pajama bottoms and a tank top and slippers. When I returned from that first walk, she was sitting by the sidewalk next to the main road picking flowers. Its been a rough day for her.
As I walked through the RV park to my humble abode- literally- the residents were standing around talking, so I caught up on the days activities. As I sat knitting on the couch later that evening, again- trying to find something to write about- I told my uncle about the stolen RV and the blue van. He laughed, “well, I guess the cops will be out later.” Maybe that will give me something to write about.
Life in this little RV town.