Friends in LoW places

Greetings from LoW-HI RV Ranch in Deming, “home of pure water and fast ducks,” New Mexico.  We’ve been here since Sunday, March 22 for the Loners on Wheels (LoWs) rally.

LoWs are an “RV Club of legally single men and women who enjoy traveling, camping, RV caravaning, and the lifestyle of singles.” Edith Lane formed the group with eight single campers in 1969. LoWs currently have roughly 2,000 members. There are about 30 of us here for the rally.

Before the rally officially began on Wednesday, more than 20 LoWs crossed the border to the Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico, for margaritas and lunch.  LoWs have been going to the Pink Store every Tuesday for decades. We’re welcomed like old friends — the first drink is always free.

Petroglyphs near Deming, New Mexico
Petroglyphs near Deming, New Mexico

Thursday, several of us took a field trip to the Fort Cummings ruins  and nearby petroglyphs. The latter are said to be 750 to 1,100 years old. Pat pictured bored ancient teenagers carving into the huge rocks as they looked out for whatever. Millennial graffiti.

I’ll stay here another week. I have to use the “Free Wine Flight” certificates for St. Clair Winery and Bistro that I won as a door prize. Actually, I won a kitchen towel and $10 gift certificate to “Sew and Sew” but traded with Myra. Now we’re both happy.

newmexicoI plan to drive up US-180 to Silver City. Ron likes the Curious Kumquat, a 2014 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist. I may get my teeth cleaned in Palomas. Pegasus gets an oil change on Friday. Roan may get a much-needed bath at the Turquoise Poodle, where Della takes her two West Highland White Terriers.

When I leave Deming, I’ll head north towards Santa Fe. I may check out Elephant Butte along the way. Dar and Bill, whom I met in Mesa, recommended Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort. Or not. I’m not sure where I’m going next except that it’s north.

How anxiety causes chest pain (HealthWorks Collective)
How anxiety causes chest pain (HealthWorks Collective)

Often, so many choices gives me anxiety. My heart’s been tied up in knots since I began considering my next move. No worries — HealthWorks Collective explains the phenomenon in this nifty graphic.

An eternity in Congress

Since leaving Hondo, Texas on 12 January, Roan and I have bounced across three states. We spent one night in Marathon, Texas; two nights in Deming, New Mexico; a week each in Benson, Mesa, and Cottonwood, Arizona (with side trips to Jerome and Sedona); and five nights in Quartzsite. Whew!

We’re ready to settle down for what seems like an eternity — three weeks at the Escapees North Ranch in Congress, Arizona.

So, what’s in Congress, Arizona? Apart from less than 2,000 people, not much from what I’ve seen since getting here five days ago — a dollar store, a Country Corner gas station/convenience store, a post office where my mail is addressed to General Delivery. Fortunately, there’s more nearby.

Congress, Arizona and surrounding areasWickenburg , the closest “big” town with less than 10,000 residents, is 17 miles away, and boasts two grocery stores — an old Bashas and a new Safeway. I prefer the latter and not only because it stocks Cook’s magnums. It reminds me of home. The layout is almost the same as the one in Hunters Woods.

The nearest Walmart — this full-time RVer’s favorite store (sorry Dad) — is in Prescott (pronounced “Preskitt”). Arizona’s first capital city, Prescott is 44 miles northeast and about 3,000 feet up AZ-89. No vehicles over 40 feet allowed 37 miles ahead, the sign at the base of AZ-89 warns. Miles of switchbacks between here and there.

Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains, Yarnell, Arizona
Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains, Yarnell, Arizona
Between Congress and Prescott lies tiny Yarnell , just 10 miles up AZ-89. I drove up there on Wednesday, with Kathy, a new friend from Quartzsite, and her dog Kip. Our mission: to see the Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains, “…a shaded grotto of oak trees and granite boulders.”

Remnants of buildings at the Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains
Remnants of buildings at the Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains
The Shrine did not escape the deadly Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 firefighters in June 2013. In addition to damage to the Stations of the Cross and guard rails, the small, privately funded shrine and retreat center lost several buildings.

Back in Congress, Roan and I are enjoying this respite from the road and the Sonoran Desert’s perfect winter weather: china blue-white marbled skies, highs in the 70s, lows in the 40s, virtually no humidity.

Birds call and whistle, soft breezes caress from the north, traffic from nearby AZ-89 hums low, an occasional train creeps silently by. Only an errant sonic boom from jet fighters playing “chicken” disturbs the peace, spooking the cattle.

The sun sets over North Ranch, Congress, Arizona
The sun sets over North Ranch, Congress, Arizona

Roan, we’re not in Texas anymore

The sun rises on SKP Saguaro Co-op (Benson, Arizona)
The sun rises on SKP Saguaro Co-op (Benson, Arizona)

Now this is more like it — clear skies and 69°F. I can live with this. Sunny days in the 60s and 70s, starry nights in the 30s. Even Roan’s shedding his winter coat.

We left Alamo Area SKP Co-op — our home since late September — on Monday, heading west, north, and up on US-90. I drove 285 miles, climbing to almost 4,000 feet, to Marathon Motel & RV Park in Marathon, Texas.

Tuesday dawned grey with freezing drizzle and a weather advisory. I debated staying an extra day or two until the weather warmed.  A call to the Texas Department of Transportation, however, assured me that US-90 was good the 120 miles to Van Horn and Interstate 10. So off we went.

Tuesday, I drove 354 miles through El Paso and Las Cruces to Deming, New Mexico. We spent the next two nights at the LoW-HI RV Ranch, home of Loners on Wheels. It rained, then snowed, then rained again all day Wednesday.

The next morning, thin ice covered Pegasus and topped the slide outs, falling in shards as I retracted them. The water hose was frozen. The air was cold, the sun warm.  Water dripped off Pegasus’s eastern flank. And off we went.

Our route from Hondo, Texas to Benson, Arizona (815 miles)
Our route from Hondo, Texas to Benson, Arizona (815 miles)

Thursday, we drove a short 176 miles, across the Continental Divide in western New Mexico, to our destination —SKP Saguaro Co-op in Benson, Arizona. We’ll stay here until Wednesday, 21 January, when we’ll head to Quartzsite to boondock (camp without hook-ups) with the Escapee Solos.

Every winter Quartzsite explodes from a population of less than 4,000 to several hundred thousand.  In January and February, the wide open desert, just 15 miles from the California border, is the place to be if you’re an RVer in southwest Arizona.

Why Quartzsite? Three reasons: 1) Good weather, 2) Virtually free camping on public lands, and 3) A Big Tent filled with vendors targeted towards RVers. (Which came first — the RVers or the Big Tent?)

After a few days of dry camping in Quartzsite, it’s back to “civilization,”  specifically Mesa, for a week. Teri and Tom fly in from Milwaukee for a brief respite from winter on 27 January. Who knows what fun we’ll get into! Roan will be so surprised to see them.

After that, February’s to-do list includes getting the InvisiBrake system looked at — it’s draining the car battery — and finding someplace to stay until the Escapade RV rally in Tucson in early March.