Tuesday, November 17 (continued)
About ten miles northwest of Blythe, the crew and I come upon a BLM sign, “Midland LTVA.”
I turn in and drive to a structure displaying maps, a selection of worn paperbacks and magazines, and a poster beseeching RVers to be careful not to run over the threatened desert tortoise.
(I urge you to read a very informative article about the desert tortoise at the website, endangeredspeciesinternational.org. Everyone who visits the desert needs to know what threatens the existence of this reptile, a creature which has been around for thousands of years.)
I survey the area. This is pretty nice. Lots of space between campers. We’ll stay for the night and figure out what to do in the morning.
A sign with an arrow directs us to the camp host’s campsite. No one is home and there aren’t the usual pay envelopes I’m accustomed to using at campgrounds in order to deposit a fee in the iron ranger.
“Hang on, guys. We’ll find our home soon.”
(Bridget knows the word “home” and I’m teaching Reggie to recognize it, too.)
I notice several have been altered by previous long-term visitors. The white you see in the next photo are small chunks of white quartz, a mineral rock plentiful in this area of the Southwest.
I suppose this custom is a way to lay claim, either consciously or sub-consciously, to a favored campsite. Or maybe simply an urge to personalize one’s environment. I avoid these sites and look for one without “improvements.”
I quickly choose an open site that is level.
I’m tired from the drive, the shopping in Parker, the wind, and traveling on an unfamiliar road, not knowing where we will end up. I position the BLT for afternoon shade.
After the crew and I celebrate with a feast of rotisserie chicken and I’ve placed our mat and items by the door, I unhitch.
I position the Perfect Tow Vehicle to block our view of an occupied campsite as well as the wind coming from the north.
Usually I wait a day before unhitching to make sure we like the campsite enough to stay in it. I don’t wait to unhitch this time because we need to drive over to the camp host’s site in the morning to pay our camping fee.
Later, as I lie in bed with Bridget and Reggie asleep next to me, I sigh with relief and contentment.
This campsite doesn’t have much charm. However, it’s safe, warm, away from neighbors, and quiet. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find something better.
Wednesday, November 18
The crew and I are outside the Best Little Trailer when a red pick-up stops at our camp.
The man wears sunglasses and a ball cap. I walk over to him and he continues, “I’m your neighbor over there.”
I learn his name is Henry and he’s been coming to Midland LTVA every year since ’95.
“We have a good group here. You won’t find a bad person among ’em. Everyone looks out for each other. We get together once in a while, have a pot luck. You’re welcome to come to the one for Thanksgiving.”
I thank Henry and graciously decline. At least I hope I was gracious.
“That’s up to you,” he replies. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There’s a woman way over on the other side right now in a small trailer. You can’t see her because she’s waaaay back, has a cargo trailer she’s fixed up. She likes to be by herself, too. Go over there and meet her. You probably would get along.”
I smile inwardly at Henry’s suggestion for two loners to get together.
“Well, if she’s way over there,” I respond, “she probably wants to be left alone. I would like to go over to that section and see if I can find a more private campsite.”
Bridget and Reggie come up to the pick-up and Henry asks about them. Reggie jumps around and barks, wanting to meet Henry face-to-face. I lift him up to the window and that makes him happy.
Whenever I come upon someone who is familiar with an area that’s new to me, I ask questions.
Lots of questions!
Henry tells me, “We have a dump station here.”
“Oh, there’s a dump station!” I exclaim like a kid at Christmas.
Also trash bins, a big deal to a boondocker! No water though. Henry tells me there are drinking water spigots at the park in Blythe. He gives me directions. The post office accepts general delivery shipments. A ranger regularly comes by Midland to check on things.
“It doesn’t get too crowded,” he says, “maybe thirty, at the most.”
Five years ago I couldn’t imagine I’d be standing next to some guy’s pick-up in the desert and jawing like ol’ pals about where to dump and where to find water and such.
Before Henry drives off he adds, “Take that road and check it out. Some good spots over there and you’ll be by yourself.”
~ ~ ~
On the way I stop at the kiosk to read the bulletin board. The BLM ranger pulls up in his official, white pick-up. We chat. He’s served this area for many years. I suspect he knows the name of everyone who returns from year to year.
I introduce myself, point out my rig, and explain that I’m on my way to buy a permit.
This eliminates the need for him to ask why I don’t have a permit sticker on my windshield. He answers a few questions for me and is very pleasant and professional.
From the camp host’s site, I can see the part of the desert where I want to camp. I buy a permit for $40 which allows us to stay for two weeks. That works out to a smidgen less than $2.87 a day. Not bad!
“Put one on your windshield and one on the door of your trailer,” she instructs.
Later I notice that the sticker is for the longest two-week period I’ve ever known!
We take this road to find a better camp.
The first sunset we experience in our new home . . . .
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