Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Daily Routine in Quartzsite

Wake up. It's 6am, and cold. I'm planning on going down to the tents and looking for work today. Go back to sleep.

Wake up. It's 6:30am, still cold, and I have to pee. Still have some time, though. Go back to sleep.

Wake up. It's 6:45, and I really, really need to pee. Where are my glasses? there, on my laptop. Shoes? Buried under my sleeping bag. Am I wearing pants? Yes. Crawl out, remember the toilet paper. Pee under a bush. Bury toilet paper in my fire pit. Go back to sleep.

Wake up. It's sunny and moderately warm. Time to get up! My sleeping bag smells funny. Should I change my clothes? Naw, they feel pretty fresh. Check to see if the laundry strewn around my camp is dry yet. Probably not.

Go for a short walk, collect firewood and some pretty stones. Take a few minutes to note the progress of various small green shoots which have started growing after the last rain. It smells good out here.

Back in camp, I start a small fire, scrub out my pot with sand, then rinse it with a bit of water. Once the fire is ready, a flat rock goes in the center of the ember and I heat some water on it for oatmeal. Wait a bit. Pick the worst of the ashes out, add oatmeal and anything I find buried in my kitchen bag to flavour it. Read while the oatmeal cooks.

Wolf down the oatmeal like a starved thing. Maybe follow it with some almonds or dried fish. By now the wind has woken up and I'm huddled by my fire. Maybe I should head to town? No, I think I'll stay here and read some more. Fire is warm.

At 9am or so, I wash my face, brush my teeth, pack up my electronics, clothes that need washing, empty water containers, and some soap. My sleeping bag gets unzipped, reversed, and spread out to air. Make sure my tent is staked down securely, the fire is(mostly) out, and no food is left laying around. Kangaroo rats are nocturnal, but you never know...

Watch for the small flock of Quail that I always see near the Dome Rock RV Park, which is about a half mile from my camp. The same guy seems to always be entering or leaving his RV, too. Maybe he just stands in the doorway half the day. As soon as I get on my bike, it's finger numbing cold. The wind is always in my face. That's okay, though; the ride to town is short, curving around desert mountains and old mining claims. I notice something new every time.

Dome Rock Road and the BLM 14-day area. A month from now it'll look like a KOA out there.

The first truck stop before the freeway exit is a Love's. If I ran my laptop out of batteries the day before, I stop here, plug in various electronics, and write for an hour or so. If I don't need the juice, I rush across town for an amazing apple fritter at the bakery on the east end of Quartzsite. I wonder if they save their day-old pastries. One of these days I'll ask and see if I can get some for cheap. On the way back I'll stop by one of the many flea markets and try to memorize the intricate wire-wrap jewelry techniques. Chat with the vendors for a while, maybe call home and insist the Eileen would just love this place, then move on. If I need it, I'll get in line for a shower and swish my laundry around in a wash-tub.

MacDonalds time! Bad food, interesting people, and free wifi. Can't plug in my laptop, that's the only downside. This is the hangout for grizzled locals, truckers, and a few camo-clad survivalists types. Old retired couples from the RV parks come in for coffee, along with families stumbling out of their mini-vans on the way to somewhere else. I buy my daily hot fudge sundae and am reunited with the internet until my battery goes dead.

At some point I remember that I was going to look for a job today, but now it's too late in the day, and there'll be more hiring towards Christmas, anyway.

Leaving MacDonald's, it's probably getting towards dusk. If it's too windy to cook outside, or I have nothing to cook, I might go to Isaiah 58 for a free(Though I usually leave a donation) dinner in the company of all the other tramps, vagabonds, hippies and panhandlers. Eat, socialize for a bit, maybe practice wire-wrapping the stones from this morning, then head out of town. On the way out I'll fill my water containers at Love's. Pro tip: The truck stops have filtered water in their taps. Quartzsite municipal water tastes like salt and iron. Avoid this.

On the way back, I'll look at the mining ruins, the trail up into the mountains, and make plans for hiking up there sometime soon. Before the big crowds come. The ride back reminds me why I'm still in Quartzsite. The wind has finally died down, and now that the sun has set it feels inexplicably warmer. The mountains are a hazy purple, and the moon rises enormous.

When I get to camp I make sure of the last bit of light to gather more firewood. Wet laundry is left out to dry; stuck to the huge saguero, hung from the dead tree. If I didn't already eat, I'll cook some pasta, throw in some salsa and a can of tuna. My pot gets scrubbed out with sand, again, then left to rinse in the morning.

Keep an eye out for the Kangaroo rat that comes over late every night, drawn to the smell of my dinner. Give the critter a few almonds or dry pasta. Possibly get bit for my kindness. Eventually I run out of excuses to be away, burrow into my warm sleeping bag, and read for a bit before dozing off.

Seriously, though - tomorrow I'll look for work.

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