After picking Bernie and Chris up at Loving Touch groomer, I returned home to hitch up the Casita. It was about noon on Tuesday, February 5, 2018.
The bright hot sun broadcasted several hours of solar energy. I need to reach Quartzsite and set up my solar panels to capture free energy. The sun sets around five thirty, less than four hours of good daylight left.
Bernie and Chris have been closely watching me fuss around the Casita since Sunday when I brought it from storage.
I pulled away from the house at one-thirty. My destination is about 140 miles to the west on Interstate Ten. It takes about two and a half hours driving.
I have been anxiously awaiting this trip since July 15th. It was the day my Casita arrived. I named it ‘My Last Dance.’ I had so many plans… So many future adventures…
Today is a bitter-sweet moment for me.
It will be my last real trip in the Casita. My desired plans to escape the extreme Arizona summer heat won’t happen.
I am selling the Casita.
Medical and financial issues are the primary reasons. I am in reasonably good health at the moment. However, I face a two-thousand-dollar eye procedure sometime within the next year.
Financially, last week my wonderful 2003 Toyota cost me over fourteen hundred dollars in repairs. It’s fifteen years old with one hundred seventy-three thousand miles on the odometer.
It’s a gas-guzzler. On the plus side, it is paid for, large enough for hauling Bernie and Chris, and strong enough to tow the Casita.
However, with its age, I have concerns being mechanically stranded out in the boonies. I constantly think of thousand-buck repairs and being towed.
It’s one thing to break down while in Phoenix. Help is close by. It’s quite a different issue when isolated miles away in the boonies.
The entire Quartzsite road trip is on Interstate Ten. Not exactly boring, but I’ve driven it enough times over the years that it no longer thrills me.
Or perhaps my mood is punctuated knowing it is the last time towing the Casita?
It’s a race to the west. The brilliant sun continues its slow descent as my miles bring us closer to Quartzsite and the Fiberglass Rally.
About three hundred different fiberglass travel trailers will be there. Over the years recreational vehicle construction has greatly improved. “Stick built” continues to be the majority construction. However, fiberglass RV construction began in the eighties. It was a significant improvement. These units last more than twenty years and retain their value.
A brand new basic Casita lists for about eighteen thousand dollars. However, ‘everyone’<?> usually wants additional features so the actual cash cost will dress out about twenty-one thousand dollars.
Most folks look for a used Casita. These units can be about ten years old and are advertised in the low to mid-teen buck range.
My Casita was manufactured in 2010. I asked the bank for a fifteen-thousand-dollar loan. They refused me. Their reason was the ‘book value’ was less than five thousand dollars.
They said I would be crazy to buy a five-thousand-dollar Casita for fifteen thousand dollars. (well, I wasn’t going to pay exactly that much…)
Fiberglass units hold their value. Casita has a single manufacturing site in Texas. They have made them since the early 80’s. A few continue being advertised… and are bought.
Most owners keep a Casita for more than ten years and upgrade them.
There are more than a dozen fiberglass brands, but besides Casita, the more common are Bigfoot, Oliver, Escape, and Scamp. Scamp has both the classic travel trailer and also builds a fifth wheel unit.
At four o’clock we arrive in the desert area already dotted with recreation vehicles. We are still about five miles from Quartzsite.
For Quartzsite, the winter vacation season is almost at the end. Beginning around September, more than a million RVs of all types have made the desert their temporary home.
Today, the temperature is in the eighties. Many thousands of people have already left, and by the end of March, this desert area will be practically empty of RVs. The temperature will be in the ninety’s and will continue to climb to close to one hundred twenty degrees by June and July.
But today the dry eighty-degree heat and very low humidity are perfect.
Highway Ninety-five runs directly north-south and bisects Interstate Ten at Quartzsite, Arizona.
I’ve been here in the past when all four corners… for a couple of miles… were packed with vendor tents and temporary RV campgrounds.
I’ve also driven through on I-10 when Quartzsite was deserted. All activity vanished like a desert mirage.
Today, February is not quite a mirage. Like a mirage of my dream that ends with this trip.
We drive past Highway ninety-five and continue on Interstate Ten. I look for Dome Rock Road. It is about five or so miles past the actual town of Quartzsite.
Dome Rock is just a funny-looking top of otherwise common peaks of several low mountains.
Clustered nearby at its base, are gathered hundreds of white dots. The fiberglass trailers are arriving.
Because of Bernie and Chris… mostly because of Chris… I need to camp away from everyone. Chris barks at every person and dog within sight.
I find a spot and set up camp.
First, I put the solar panels out. My three portable solar panels produce up to 135 watts. It isn’t enough to power the AC or the microwave, but it is sufficient to run all the LED lights and my laptop computer.
Electricity from the battery is a precious as water when you are boondocking. I’ve only a single battery, so I must be extremely careful of my electrical use.
By the time I finish setting up camp, I’ve less than an hour to capture daylight solar energy.
It is dark by the time I fix the dog’s meal. The outside Casita light isn’t working. They will eat in the dark. Also, the temperature dropped with darkness, and the wind picked up.
In the dark, the cold, roaring wind grabs our attention. The wind howls, the dogs crouch, not eating.
Bernie and Chris are not used to eating in the dark, nor eating outside.
The Casita is not a four-weather recreational vehicle. It lacks insulation. The past several weeks the night temperatures have been in the forty’s.
In this cold weather, the furnace becomes an essential piece of equipment. Unfortunately, the charging system monitor voltage reads 12.60 volts on the battery.
A short course in battery maintenance states: Don’t let the battery voltage discharge below 12.50 volts.
The furnace fan pulls current. I can’t take the chance of running the battery down during the night. I have a warm sleeping bag and enough clothes to be comfortable.
With their tough coats, Bernie and Chris have enjoyed the brisk morning chill since December. They will be fine.
With all the rushing around to feed the dogs, I never got to eat. I’d packed a few sandwiches in the fridge, so my first Quartzsite meal consisted of a peanut-butter and jam sandwich, a very cold mug of milk and two equally cold apples. That’s my idea of roughing it when camping.
Sleeping in a sleeping bag isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. At home, I’m not sewed into blankets. I usually toss about a bit and sometimes kick off blankets and sheets.
Wrapped in a cocoon, my every movement keep waking me.
Night finally passes.
Wednesday arrived, and as the day progressed, I got better organized. I had coffee, and it was wonderful. The dogs got their morning exercise. They had a hot breakfast. Having missed their last meal, they wolfed it down.
I fired up the car, and we made a quick run into Quartzsite. After that cold night experience, I found a hardware store and bought thin bubble-aluminum-foil insulation.
The Casita has three large windows. I covered all three. Now I am better prepared for the 40-degree night temperature. The insulation also helps block the intense sun glare.
Yesterday the inside temperature was more than eighty-five degrees at two in the afternoon. Today, I’m sure it will be much cooler.
When we returned to camp, a registration table was open. It was only nine o’clock, and hardly anyone was around. I’d presumed everyone would wake at dawn, have fires going and with a coffee mug in hand… there would be lots of folks chatting.
By the way, I am not a campfire fan. I never have one. I’ve experienced my share when the wind automatically shifts to focus stinging smoke in my eyes.
Two people sit behind the table. Friendly, but not excessively so. I sign in and get three buttons.
I tell them I am selling my trailer and leave a few sales information sheets. I don’t expect anyone to find me. If I didn’t have Bernie and Chris, I would have parked extremely close to where all the activity takes place.
As it is, I am parked on the upper tier, more than a half-mile away.
I realize I no longer fit in with this crowd. I will never be part of the group. They have trailers, and I am selling mine. Everyone has a partner, and I am alone. I have two dogs.
Some folks have dogs. However, a small, quiet, solitary dog on a leash can’t compare with my two over-friendly giants.
Bernie has his head out the window. So does Chris, but Chris is barking. Somewhere (out of my sight) he spots a dog.
I don’t let the dogs out of the car. I just get back in the car and drive back to our isolated campsite.
For the first time since I initially received the Casita back on July 15, 2017, I finally organize the kitchen so I can prepare meals.
The coffee pot is on the two- burner stove. It is the only fixture that says ‘HOME’ to me.
Later that morning as I sat outside in my comfortable canvas chair… sipping what had to be my third cup of coffee, I made a plan.
Before I leave this rally, I will take a few pictures. I want Bernie and Chris in them.
Chris grabs my bed, Bernie nestles underneath.
I give up meeting people. I accept I don’t belong. It is like when you ride in an elevator. You don’t make friends. You don’t have a conversation. The only thing you have in common is traveling together in an enclosed box… only for a very short time.
I begin preparing for the rest of my life. That famous line, “One door closes, another door opens.”
My Casita door has closed. I’ve had ‘My Last Dance.’
It is a bit scary not knowing when or where my next door will open.
I know there will be future adventures. I just don’t know when.
Before it can happen, I must have some work to finish? The quicker I finish, the quicker I can seek my next adventure.