06 Bits and Pieces

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages great tracts of land in the Southwest, most of it is freely accessible.  For the most part there are no services nor fees.  In areas where the recreational use of such land is increasing, there is a policy that you may camp for 14 days, but then must move on.  And if the move is to another BLM tract it must be at least 25 miles away.  I think that radius varies from district to district—I recall seeing a 7-mile sign in So Cal.

BLM sites are popular with the Boondockers, a major group within the Escapees RV club.  Yesterday I made my first connection with them and learned that within the Boondockers there is one group of ever-changing individuals but a steady population of about 80 who travel among BLM sites.  They set up an itinerary of whistlestops months in advance and post a GPS location and a date—and that is the end of the voyage’s structure.  People join and peel off from as they please.

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I first learned of the annual mating call to thousands of motorhomes at the town and phenomenon of Quartzsite only a few months ago. Several of my craftsman friends pointed out to me, Quartzsite is well known as the Wall Street for the exchange of gems and minerals.  Yesterday I strolled into a store that must be the Merrill-Lynch of minerals.  I saw dozens of geodes taller than I and great stumps of petrified wood with one polished table-top surface.  The aisles were lined with shelves and hundreds of bins of smaller crystals.  These items sell by the once, pound, or ton.  I saw some price tags ranging up to $5000.00 and even more impressive items without a price tag.

*         *         *

I also returned to see my friend the mountain man. We visited for three hours and he has grown comfortable talking with me and allowed me to take a series of photos.  This man is worth several postings to the Year on the Road; however, you will not see them for several weeks. The word profile of the mountain man will be enriched by his images.  His pix and hundreds of others remained trapped in the 4-Gig chip in my camera, inaccessible for another week or more when I hook up with my new computer waiting for me back in Alameda.

I believe I may have officially joined the ranks of boutique publishers.  In my first visit the mountain man told me he’d like to write up some of his insights and stories.  I told him to write something and if I liked it, I would publish it as a Guest Blogger feature.  Yesterday he let me look at two first-drafts and I will tell you I was charmed by his choice of topics and the country voice of his writing.  I took one and gave him five dollars.  I will return it to him with a few editorial suggestions but I fully expect it will appear in the blog once I have collected my own thoughts and pix and can introduce him to you properly.

8 Responses to 06 Bits and Pieces

  1. Colleen Rae says:

    Exciting news, Al, about your mountain man. Can’t wait to hear his stories and see your pictures and your take on him.
    My parents retired to a community outside of Parker, AZ which is a few miles (30?) from Quartzsite. I spent many vacations and long weekends with them on the Colorado River.
    A little aside, after my Dad retired from the Army he became a court reporter for the Indians (Native Americans) outside of Parker on their reservation. He told many stories both good and bad about the BLM. One thing that remains in my memory is the miles and miles of RV’s at Quartzsite.
    The desert is indeed a gorgeous place. With the flat plains bordered by mountains and the dark green Colorade River racing its way to the Gulf. Thanks for your word-paintings of that area.

  2. Al. you have indeed hit upon the mother lode, mineral and human. Are you tempted to take pick in hand and dig a bit? Must be heaven for people who make novelty jewelry.
    I anticipate reading the Mountain Man’s work…

  3. Evelyn Washington says:

    Very interesting, collecting contemporary American history tales as told by the living authors,so to speak. Have you any knowledge concerning the Hobo Convention? It might be worth researching. Have fun.

  4. Michael and Marsha Joyce says:

    Never miss reading these, and particularly enjoy the character stories.

    Thank you Al!

  5. Al,
    Thank you for the posting. We are all here in the Bay Area working away and you are out enjoying hours with the “mountain man.” I envy you and am glad that you decided to spend some time out and about. Life is good here we have MINDY scheduled for the Miami Show, then back to do the Marina Village Show with 4-6 boats. All the best. Michael and Patty

  6. karen wittgraf says:

    Jane forwarded your latest “bits and pieces” and I enjoyed it! I want more of the mountain man. Your book is in the making, Al, and I can feel your inspiration!

  7. Looking forward to that, AL!

  8. Bill says:

    Well Al, you’ve done it to us! We will be moving on from our current adventure in Lake Creek.

    We have decided to cleanup “Voyager” our Island Trader 46 Ketch you brokered for us, sell her, and buy a class “A” RV. I turn 70 this year and sailing off to the South Pacific would not be wise health wise. Rebecca is exited about doing the travel thing that you are doing! And she figures she would not drown, sink or be relatively helpless if I were disabled.

    So look for us to be out there somewhere within the next 6 months!

    Bill & Rebecca

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