After 34 years in the casino business we are off to enjoy our retirement just going from one place to the next in no particular order. Well, while we were traveling we have found a perfect little spot to call home... Colville, Washington. This does not mean we have quit traveling, just taking a year off.
I asked Donna if she wanted to take another ride with me exploring but she said there was something she did not want to miss on TV. What I asked...she replied the weather channel! Ok, I get the hint, off I go.
TheEagle Mountain Mine started out years earlier as a gold mine that soon petered out. Some years later (in the mid 40's-80's) Henry Kaiser, an early century industrial personality, needed iron ore for his steel mill in Fontana, California. Seems the iron ore content of the rock at Eagle Mountain was 50 percent and above...perfect for old Henry's purposes.
Now a days Kaiser would like to use the huge mine as garbage dump because many of Los Angeles area dumps are nearing capacity, but first all lawsuits directed at the mine must be resolved.
I am not fond of using other peoples photos but seeing that the mine and ghost town are off limits and completely fenced off to the general public, google earth is the best way I can show the size. The mine is approximately 6 miles long and 2 miles wide. (most not shown)
I was blocked from most of the typical routes into the mine.
After a few dozen miles driving on and around dirt roads I was able to get closer.
I was blocked here but there was no sign saying to stay out (most likely because it was a 3 mile dirt road) so I wandered in as far as I could risk.
This road was open to me but all the streets were fenced off.
The steeple looks to be on it's last leg.
The railroad has not been used since 1986.
Even though it's not been in use for over 20 years, I guess the rail company or county found the need to put new signs on a nearly extinct crossing.
Just a mile or two south of the mine was a new energy source. This solar field was at least a mile long and half a mile wide.
When I left the area I took Hwy 177 north towards Parker and happened to see this pivot and wondered about it's age and when it was last used. There are limbs growing on both sides that have to be years old...besides, what the heck were they watering?
I did not realize just how far east the Joshua Tree National Park extended, all the way to Hwy 177.
Things tend to die slowly in the desert.
Very typical desert art. I finally got to see some desert wildlife, cute little guys ...huh?
I have always found it amazing, the ingenuity, drive and strength of the "Greatest Generation". Even before it was necessary, the Los Angels water board decided to figure out how to get water from the Colorado River over 200 miles away. In the late 20's William Mulholland gave the idea and a designer named Frank Weymouth did the implementing of it.
One of the first things they did was dam the Colorado River so as to have a body of water they could then send to Los Angeles. This dam, Parker Dam, created Lake Havasu on the California/Arizona border. It might surprise you just looking at the dam that it is referred as the "deepest dam in the world". This because 73% of the dams structure is below the stream bed.
When the dam was started in 1932, 5 pumping stations such as this one at Eagle Mountain were being built. Although the pumps take the water from 300 to 600 feet, depending on the location, it takes enormous amounts of electricity to do the job. The first 5 years in service from 1941 to 1946 only 2% of the water capacity was delivered...too much water and too few customers. I would say these gentlemen were sure ahead of the curve.
There are 63 miles of open canals, some with
signs such as this. I feel sorry for the poor guy that decides to jump in and take a bath...that water was moving fast. So fast that in the previous photo you will see some knotted ropes touching the water. This is because ten feet out of camera range the water goes down into an underground buried conduit and siphon. If you miss the rope I sure hope you have "gills".
Here the water, while still in the underground conduit, heads for one of the many tunnels.
A closer look at the cut in the mountain where the water disappears into a tunnel for the next 4 or 5 miles.
Some of the statistics of the project that started in 1933 and completed in 1942.
Two reservoirs...Havasu and Mathews
Five pumping plants
63 miles of canals
84 miles of buried conduits and siphons
95 miles of tunnels...this I have to repeat,
95 MILES of tunnels in the 30's with the equipment they had? Amazing.
I saw some of the underground conduits in Desert Hot Springs last year and I have read about the 13 mile tunnel under San Jacinto near Palm Springs which took six years to complete...then another 30 years in court with lawsuits.
We were told by some other RV'ers that a nice drive is 75 miles north east of Quartzsite to Alamo Lake. Ok, I'll bite! Threw the dogs in the car and headed out mid-morning to the town of Brenda on Hwy 60. We stayed on 60 and went through a few other less than memorable towns until you arrive at Salome, Az. Take a left in the middle of town then drive another 40 miles to the lake.
I'm a little embarrassed because the lake was so unimpressive and muddy from recent rains...I didn't take a photo of it. We went to the dam overlook though so not all was lost.
Here are the dam and lake specifics. The river that flows in and from the dam, 36 miles to Lake Havasu is the Bill Williams.
Oh my, these folks do know Donna and I all too well, ha ha
Donna loves these little road-side churches. After leaving Salome we headed the long way towards Phoenix, which added 30 miles but what the heck...we would of missed this little cutie had we taken the same route home.
Donna is pointing out that as small as this church is, it had some beautifully stained glass windows.
Now you might at first glance think this is sacrilegious, but I was ordained for one day in Santa Barbara County so I could marry my son and daughter-in-law...so, pass the collection plate please!
The owners of the RV park we are staying in, are long time Hawaii residents who had to come back to the mainland for parents health. As such, they throw an Aloha party once a season and we were lucky enough to be here when is it was scheduled. Shawn and Randie still RV from April to October while the park is closed but spend the winter season here in Quartzsite
running there RV park.
Shawn does a 5 minute Hula dance while explaining what the different moves in the dance represent. She must know her stuff because the dance was beautiful.
The spread was typical of a Hawaiian Luau, we all brought an assigned dish and Randie buried a pig for the event. Everything was delicious except for the Hawaiian Poe Poe which was flown in the previous day, that stuff sucks big time!
After dinner we played a few games to work off some of the food. Here the hat is filled with as much fruit as possible and the person then has to walk to the wall and back. Any fruit falling off is not counted and the team that counts the most fruit wins.
Donna and Tom....yours truly in our best Hawaiian getup.
Who can break the piñata, Randie takes his best swing ( I did not know the piñata was steeped in Hawaiian culture).
I was called up, after Randies turn, to try my hand with piñata. I looked like a hero when I broke it and the candy flew out.
Not bad form for a guy who has never played 9 innings of a baseball game...damn parochial schools!
The last contest was "tacky tourist" in which the guy with the hat won. That was it for our Hawaiian night at the park...it was a lot of fun for us old folks.
Here in Quartzsite there are an abundant things that will occupy the warm winter days. We opted for a RV park with full hookups for our month right in the middle of town.
We like it here at Scenic Road RV Park, near town, quiet and loads of activities if we care to indulge.
If you'd like more space, although not guaranteed, you can park for free just out of town on the BLM land. Some land is 14 days free, others are $40 for the two weeks and yet still other spots that cost $180 for 7 months.
We went out to visit with the SKP Boomers about 8 miles from town. SKP is an organization mostly devoted to full time RVer's and the Boomers are SKP's in the baby boomer age. Donna is talking to some of the organizers of the rally. There were 122 rigs camping here...just of this group.
All these RV's are dry camping (no services) within a few blocks of town. Now, you might think these are the "freeloaders", as in Romney's 47% speech, but let me tell you something...there is some money down there in them hills. Just the dark blue motorhome in front was most likely $900,000 new and still way over my budget even today.
Shopping, one of Donna's favorite pastimes, it is much easier when you have your own personal "carry all". :-)
If you can't find what you are looking for in Quartzsite, it hasn't been made yet! Lets say you have a hard to find fork that belonged to dear grandma's flatware box handed down many years ago. Even if the company had gone out of business before you were born... I'll bet it's right here on this table, and this is only one of the many booths that cater to flatware.
Here in Quartzsite if you see a group of cars or people in one place then something either must be free or really cheap. I mean... admit it, most of us are on a fixed income and just waiting for judgement day, but here at La Mesa Rv.....
Every morning between 8:00 and 10:00 La Mesa gives a wonderful "FREE" pancake breakfast with juice or coffee. Now this is no a one time offer, you can come everyday if you wish...now you know why there are 200,000 grey headed people spending the winter in the middle of the desert.
After a two week stay in Las Vegas, that lasted a full two months, we are ready to hit the road...finally. Our stay at Callville Bay coincided with some of the coldest weather they have experienced in the last twenty years. We ran water all night long but every day as it warmed above 32 degrees we'd see fountains of water from broken lines other campers.
Quartzsite has a summer population of 4000 but when the northern states and Canada come down for the winter, (snowbirds) the town swells to over 200,000 folks and tens of thousands of RV's in every shape and size. One of Donnas and my favorite place is Silly Al's. It was so crowded that I had to park across the main road in Quartzsite.
Silly Al's is famous for their pizza's. Donna and I have been coming here for the last three years and it is no exaggeration that I have been thinking about this pizza for the past three months, it's that good. Along with Amber Bock draft, I would put it up against any of the many cooking shows that Donna watches.
One of the reasons the snowbirds flock here are the thousands of acres the BLM allows free, or very nominal, camping fees. Some of the areas have a much higher density than you would find in downtown LA, but if you look around you can actually get an acre or two by yourself.
Everyone understands the concept of free camping, but the "nominal" fee I was alluding to is $180 for 7 months camping on BLM land...hard to beat that price. If you arrive early enough you can actually get a very scenic spot for the winter.
Because most of the BLM land is "open range" with no services such as power, water or sewage, your rig must be self contained and you'd better have a power source such as generator, solar or wind generation. When your tanks fill up this spot is a "must" for dumping, fuel, water and propane.
For a couple of personal reasons, we decided to spend the month here at Scenic Road RV Park. Monthly is only a few hundred dollars for the 30 days, but if you want to spend the season it also is a reasonable rate of $1200 for 6 months...and it is downtown.
Near our park is the "The Grubstake Social Club". We have not tried it yet but the place is super crowded every time I had driven by.
I did stop by to check out the Grubstake's happy hour and found the bar three deep in grey hair.
Because of the snowbird population there are huge shows every day. This is opening day at the RV show. which is a tent the size of a football field, but since they are all retirees no one was in a hurry or pushing. Besides the RV show there are rock show,, gem shows, classic car shows and a host of others.
Think of Quartzsite as a swap meet on steroids. No kidding, there must be a thousand acres and many more booths selling everything under the sun. New or used makes no differance. If you want a used toilet, I saw 20 or 30 of them. It is so big I suspect that is why folks spend the whole winter here.