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.
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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.