Dispatches from the Desert 4

Quartzite, Arizona
Saturday, January 14, 2023

I’m camped at Hi Jolly BLM distributed camping area two miles north of town. That’s Boondocking regardless of what the spell checker says. Hi Jolly is one of half a dozen boondocking areas in the Quartzite area. The experience is altogether different from staying in a commercial, overnight campground. People here are not huddled in their RVs fearing the worst or just too tired from the days travel to get out and socialize. Here people stay up to and over the 14-day limit and get to know each other a bit. I moved from yesterday’s location in hopes of riding my bicycle to town as it’s 5 miles closer. Using my bicycle turned out to be optimistic.

The range of people at HI Jolly is huge. I’ve met several couples from Canada, a couple of professional musicians, a woman who is a former Army MP, a snow-plow driver from Wisconsin, a couple of good ol’ boys from Tennessee and Kentucky, also former truck drivers and other interesting characters interested in my rig, which I think I mentioned is pretty much unique. One said that they’d seen us in Death Valley last winter. It’s like being in a parade sometimes.

A high point today was when I offered the empty 3-gallon carboys of spring water that were gifted to me to another camper who was headed for town to get water. This resulted in him filling my 6-gallon jug preceded by a long conversation about music since he was practicing for a gig in town next week. Eventually, calling my bluff, he said “go get your horn.” I did and we spend the next 2 hours playing music. He suggested that I might want to sit-in with the band. I may well do that. At the very least, I’ll keep my lip in shape for the next orchestra season.

Of course all the above has little to do with what I imagined would be a more formal hobo reunion organized by the Ribber Tramp Rendezvous, under the aegis of the Homes on Wheels Alliance but it’s more indicative of “the scene.” That is — a lot of people on the road, some snow-birds and some full-timers, some obviously quite wealthy and some poor as church mice and searching for crumbs.

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