You know it has been a good ride when you find a pebble in your hair!
When I was young, I always thought it would be fun to have a go-kart. And Al always said he wanted a Jeep — you know, the kind where you can feel the air blowing through your hair.
Not to be totally outdone by Scarlett (our red F350) and Rhett (our RV), here are Vivien and Clark—our new cargo trailer and Polaris RZR XP 1000 Trails and Rocks Edition! (RZR is pronounced “razor.”)
Yeah, that’s right. Some would say we’re having some sort of a mid-life crisis. But nah…we’re just havin’ fun! Living on the desert for another year means that there’s LOTS to explore. We have lots of friends who have side-by-sides (what they’re called here) and who ride out on the desert for all-day frolics.
So far, we’ve gone out every day for a week and we’re HAVING A BLAST! We’re adding some accessories to make it easier to carry stuff (extra gas, extra water, spare tire…).
It is so much fun to ride out on the miles and miles of trails that are accessible in our area. It reminds me very much of the snowmobile trail systems in NH and Maine. We know that we will run into far more people on their side-by-sides in the winter but for now, we’ve pretty much got the trails to ourselves (except for the roadrunners, quail, and desert bunnies).
The trail maps that are available both in paper copy and electronically are not 100% accurate but we have a ‘track me’ mapping program on Al’s phone that assures us that we’ll always being able to return from whence we came.
Our longest trip so far was 35 miles, the first of many trips we plan to take in the KOFA (King of Arizona) National Wildlife Refuge. It’s more than a half million acres and stunning. The trip took us a several hours—no land speed records here: we seem to average about 10 MPH! The trails can be pretty bumpy and tons of fun. There were some great hills and dips—and I’m sure that with experience, we’ll venture farther and hit some bigger hills–what goes up must come down, right? Wheeeeeeeeeeee!
Because we’re not yet completely set up for self-rescue, for instance to change tires, we’re limiting our first escapes (escapades?) to the area near the town. But even there, there are things to surprise us. For instance there are petroglyphs in Quartzsite! Who knew?
There are other signs of earlier people here, some possibly ancient. Near the petroglyphs are mortar grinding holes.
We also have nearby intaglios. These are much smaller than the ones in Blythe that we wrote about last year, and we have no information about how old they are.
There are also signs of early non-indigenous settlers, remains of foundations, cisterns, and cabins.
On one of our rides, we found a marble quarry. (Al has already made all the jokes about cat’s eyes and shooters, so don’t bother!) So far I have been unable to find any record of it in the AZ Geological Survey material available online, but there are modern “No Trespassing,” and “Restricted area” signs, but no signs of activity. There is a satellite antenna on the office roof, possibly for Internet. Who knows.
There are also desert artifacts from the current population. For instance, a golf course!
The machine is new and its drivers are inexperienced. We’re each breaking the other in. We’re taking it somewhat easy on Clark until its first service (which won’t be too long from now at this rate). We’re learning about driving on different surfaces; hard-packed desert floor is very different from the deep, loose, gravel that forms the beds of the washes. The trails we’ve been riding so far are relatively flat, with only occasional down hills and rises going into and out of washes. “You mean I have to drive up (down) THAT????” There are more challenging surfaces to come. When we’re equipped to leave the immediate Quartzsite area (leave the nest?), we’ll head toward the mountains nearby. There, the trails become much more challenging. And FUN!
We’ve gone toward the mountains to our west; the foothills are actually just a few miles out of town.
Here is an overview of a trail we took. It was our most challenging to date.
Here is what some of it looked like to us. Warning: this clip is sped up 2x, to give a flavor of some of the types of trails here without taking forever.
You can see that there is an established network of trails; we’re not just riding willy-nilly across the desert. In fact, “off road,” i.e., off trail travel is prohibited here on the BLM and USFS land. One wonders how all these trails were established. Before regulations? Maybe we’ll find out this coming winter when there will be many (many!) more riders on the trails.
Many of these trails have even been given identification numbers by the BLM.
There is a lot of beauty here on the desert. Different plants have been blooming across the past several weeks. We now have saguaro, ocotillo, and the beautiful pink ironwood trees in bloom.
Jumping cholla cactus will stick to ANYTHING! They have barbed needles that are extremely sharp. Al had an encounter with one at Joshua Tree NP last year. It looks like Clark had an encounter today! No, I’m not about to try to take it off—until I figure out how to do it safely.
Clark is an “off-road vehicle.” It is fortunate that the back gate of our current RV park opens to parts of the trail system around town. However, there are other sections of the trails which require traveling on the public roads. This means for now that we have to put the RZR into its trailer and pull it to a trailhead. However, in Arizona and several other states in the west, these machines can be made “street legal,” and operated on the road system. We have the parts on order to do that conversion, then it will simply be a matter of waiting for the Motor Vehicle Department, which at this point is very backlogged. That will make it much simpler to make more use of the trails around here. It will also be very nice to not have to take Scarlett every time we want to go into town!
It’s great to get our side-by-side feet under us when the trails are so quiet. We try to get back before the heat of the day or later in the day. Our good friends from Montana (who introduced Al to their side-by-side last year) will return to Q later this year – can’t wait to do some trail rides together.
15 thoughts on “Hey! There’s a Pebble in My Hair!”
Wow, you guys are really making retirement look good! So many new adventures 🙂
Wow.. thanks for showing us your new toy and adventures. I’ve seen a Saguaro with that many arms, but not so short!
Do you have any metal spaghetti tongs? You can use those if you haven’t picked the cactus off the tire yet.
It took me a minute to figure out why you named them so… fun idea.
Oh, thanks for the tip, Lori!! Great idea!
Lori, the tongs worked well! Thanks for the idea.
Hi Kathe & Al:
You know what they say about “Restricted Areas” in the desert – Beware – The X Files!
I felt the wind blowing in my hair just reading your post! Wheeeee! Indeed! Have fun!
This just made my day!! What fun. The desert is quite beautiful in it’s own way. I love that you are exploring and enjoying nature…and each other. Thank you for sharing your adventures.
Love it! That is so exciting and looks like so much fun!
Looks like great fun!
Glad you are having so much fun. We rock hunters do not drive much faster, certainly never over20. Ha ha. We have a lot of speed demon friends that never drive below 20. It looks like you have seen more than we have. We only go out for our rocks.
Nice to see how much fun you’re having. Can’t wait to go out on ride with you. Has Rhett been fitted with a hitch? Apparently fifth wheel and truck are counted together as one vehicle so technically you’re not a triple.
Can’t wait to go out with you, too. We can finally get to the Big Eye mine. (Clark is just a wee tad more capable for back country trails than your “high clearance” auto!) It is a two seater, so we’ll have to take multiple rides.
The towing rules vary by state. Out in the west, it seems to be legal, but not back east. Also, we just don’t want to do that. We’re already 54 feet long. Vivien would put us over 70.
Enjoying the cold up in NH?
Looks like so much fun!
What a wonderful post! Carol & I enjoyed it together..Felt a bit queezy on the videos….You’re having a Blast! What a WONDERFUL adventure..Thank you!
So glad everything is ok with you. It’s so nice to see people without a mask on.
We are still trying to get to Maine but the governor has other ideas. A fourteen day quarantine doesn’t work for us.
Maybe we won’t get there this year
Frank said to watch out for rattlesnakes in the desert
Hi, Carolyn and Frank,
It’s always so great to hear from you! Yes, it’s going to be a wild summer everywhere, I’m afraid. We do wear masks when we’re out around other people EVERY time — it’s one of the really nice things about the side-by-side riding — no people!!!
Hope that spring has finally gotten the memo there in CT — I guess it’s been pretty darned cold up on MDI.
We successfully sold our house back in March! YAY!
You two take good care of yourselves and each other.