Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

FLEEING SOUTH
I have fled the cold temperature and snow in the Salt Lake Valley, and have been traveling for about 10 hours on a Greyhound bus, hoping to reach Laughlin, Nevada tonight. I usually really enjoy my experience with Greyhound, but after getting a late start this morning because the door of the bus wouldn’t close properly, I’m having to concede that this may officially be a bad trip. We pulled out nearly two hours late, after they pulled a bus off the lot that had been sitting for nearly four days. (the bus driver told me that). With freezing temperatures and such a large space to heat, we were nearly out of Utah before the interior of the bus even began to warm up. Now, only 1 hour from Las Vegas, the temperature is finally tolerable.

My original trip called for me to arrive in Las Vegas at 3:30 p.m. Then take another bus on to Laughlin at 5 p.m. I must admit that our bus driver has made some really good time, but unfortunately I will be arriving at the Las Vegas station about 15 minutes after my connecting bus is scheduled to leave. After many phone calls and pleading with Greyhound to please hold the next bus for 10 minutes, I have gotten nowhere. Unless by some miracle the next bus is running late, I’m destined to stay in Las Vegas until 1 a.m. Then catchj the next scheduled bus to Laughlin, arriving around 4 a.m. Or stay in Vegas until 5 p.m. Tomorrow and catch that bus. Either way, it’s been a long, cold, frustrating ride, and my only consolation is that my parents are at the other end to meet me, eventually, and take me touring the southern ends of the states.

I will be on the road with the parents until a couple of days before Christmas, when I will return back to Salt Lake to be with Jessica and family and friends for the holiday. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks being chauffered and pampered by my parents, bonding with the Snowbirders who live life free and warm on the road.

THE LIFE OF A SNOWBIRDER
I finally arrived in Bullhead City, Arizona, around midnight. It was an unexpected detour on my trip, which left me standing on the street corner at midnight with my backpack, overnight bag and walking stick. I was glad I had opted to bring my stick as I stood there in the dark night waiting for my parents to come get me, which, thank heaven, only took ten minutes. It was not the best bus trip I’ve ever had, and Greyhound will definitely be getting scathing email from me.

My first day here was wonderful, as I had time to catch up with the parents and get oriented to my surroundings. Incidentally, my surrounding involve crossing back and forth between Nevada and Arizona time zones repeatedly throughout the day. Laughlin Nevada and Bullhead City Arizona are divided by a river, which has casinos built all along its banks. We ventured into a couple of the casinos and deposited 20 bucks, before taking to the hills to hike the world around us.

Our first stop was Oatman, Arizona, the ghost town that refuses to die. On the road to Oatman we found trees and bushes alongside the road that had been decorated with bright shiney Christmas ornaments. Some were in memory of people who had passed, others were done just for fun. Much like Mexico, although the mountain and desert formations are incredible, they are a drab brown and grey color. The bright contrast of the decorated trees was a welcome sight along the otherwise plain highway.

When we arrived in Oatman it appeared to be a few small squatter homes in the middle of nowhere. As we ventured into the town I discovered differently. With just over a dozen shops lining the old, narrow street, we were greeted at the bottom of town by several donkeys, who are local residents. They nudged us for food and shook Dad down for the carrots in his pocket, then allowed us to pass and venture up the street. The entire town is an old West establishment, and men milled about in jeans, boots, chaps and spurs. Bikers also like the area, and they wandered around in their leather outfits and bandanas. The daily excitement in Oatman is when the bikers and cowboys gather in the middle of the street for an old west shootout, where they argue, tease and shoot each other over a bag of fictitious gold. It truly was like stepping back in time 100 years or so, and it was a little saddening to leave the fantasy and return to the road.

Our next day of adventure involved driving up through Christmas Tree Pass, on the Nevada side. The pass is filled with small pine trees, which, in this desert environment, are the only Christmas trees around. Again we came upon trees in the middle of nowhere that had been decorated by locals. We hike up Gravevine Canyon, which involved scurrying over large rocks, boulders, and shimmying through narrow crevices to reach our destination. The desert hills are covered with barrell cactus and odd looking trees and bushes of all sorts, kind of a mix between the scenery of Vernal and Mexico. We spent the day wandering the hills of Spirit Mountain, then rushed back to the campground for a shower, which, apparently only happens twice a week around here. Having been on the road and without a shower for almost a week, I must say it was probably the best shower I remember having. Today’s activities include emptying the septic tank (the shitter as it’s called down here) and venturing into the local Walmart for supplies. Then perhaps a little laundry duty before we head to one of the casinos to see the “hand of faith.” I have no idea what that is, but I will soon find out…

CAMPGROUND LIFE
We awoke before dawn this morning by the hooting of owls outside the window, and the snorting and rotting around of an unknown critter outside the trailer. It has been chilly since I’ve arrived, and as I stepped out this morning in my sweatshirt and jeans to embrace the morning, I met one of the neighbors, John. He was clad in white flip flops, white capri pants, topped with a matching white shirt and bright pink fleece vest. John has apparently decided that he likes the feel and fit of women’s clothing more than men’s, so he wears only ladies apparel. I must say he wears them quite nicely, and takes some care to make sure his ensembles are pleasing to the eye, including the pink coat his little black dog wears. We chatted for a while about the weather and the surroundings, and its well known that John is not gay and doesn’t consider himself a cross-dresser; he just shuns society’s views of gender and wears whatever he feels best in. He served three tours in the U.S. Military, and decided that he was never again going to be told what to do, how to act, and, apparently, what to wear.

The hand of faith was on display in one of the casinos we visited yesterday, and is a replica of the largest known gold nugget that has been found to date. Yesterday, Saturday, was the first time I’ve run across people who are not retired, since most of the townsfolk venture out to Walmart, then the casinos on Saturday. Today is laundry and leisure day, with a delightful stroll down to Telephone Cove to feed the ducks and watch the boats. I’m informed we get to shower again today, since when we leave here tomorrow it could be a week before we run across running water again…

Campground life is very laid back, with the biggest chore of the day being to take the trash to the dumpster or venture to the restroom to charge the battery on my phone. The campground host was setting up his Christmas tree this morning, taking nearly an hour to plump and fluff the branches of the little fake tree, which he erected next to the book exchange rack outside of his trailer. Many travelers have canine companions, most of which are of the little “yapper” variety. Morning rush hour consists of travelers circling the campground to walk their little friends, or journeying to the bathroom.

THE LONDON BRIDGE
We traveled from Laughlin to Lake Havasu today. After setting up camp along the beautiful banks of Lake Havasu, we ventured into town to see the sights, which included the London Bridge. According to the lady at the local information center, a wealthy man decided to purchase the London Bridge when he found out it was slated to be dismantled and destroyed. He arranged to purchase the bridge and have it shipped in pieces here to Arizona. There was one problem with his plan however; of course Arizona is a desert and they really had no need for a bridge. So he petitioned the powers that be to have the Colorado River diverted through Havasu City, so he would have a use for the bridge. The agreed and the river now flows directly beneath the London Bridge. It’s a wonderful piece of historical architecture, now surrounded by tourist shops and visited by tens of thousands of people each year.

We finished our day by having a couple of beers and deluxe tuna fish sandwiches, while watching the sun set over Lake Havasu, and being entertained by a dozen cottontail rabbits that came around camp to check us out and eat the carrots we threw out for them.

QUARTZITE—LAND OF THE SENIORS
We arrived at our destination of Quartzite, Arizona today. It’s a desert valley that stretches for as far as the eye can see, and every inch of it is covered in either sage brush or camp trailers. Thousands of people, mostly retirees, flee here during the winter months to escape the cold temperatures of up North. The entire desert is open area for anyone who chooses to camp here, and the camps range from small tents to large RV’s. It’s primitive living here, with only outhouses for toilets and no running water or electricity. We spent a good amount of time deciding which sage brush to park our camp trailer next to, taking into consideration distance to the outhouse, distance from other trailers and the positioning of the trailer to provide shade and shelter from the sun that will become unbearably hot soon. After deciding on a a suitable spot and setting up camp, we sat around in the camp chairs checking out the scenery, drinking a beer and killing time before we started dinner. Through camp came two coyotes, wandering and sniffing at each camp site for leftover food. They are beautiful in their natural habitat, and inquisitive of each new camper who came into the area. I’m told they will sing to us tonight as we sleep, foraging for food and marking their territory.

My previous days on the road have been luxurious compared to now, with water and electricity hook ups at most of the places we’ve stayed. Now we will rely solely on the water that we carry with us, and the electricity that is generated by the daily running of the generator. Showers and water in general are a luxury here, and every drop is planned carefully in its useage. Water we heat and use for washing dishes is recycled as rinsing water, and the closest shower is several miles into town, and comes with a premium price of $5. I’m really glad we took advantage of the free showers at the campground we stayed in last night, as its obvious that it will be several days before I enjoy that luxury again…

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December 8, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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