We left Desert Hot Springs several days ago, headed back to Quartzsite, AZ, and none too soon. Despite the many amenities we had during our month long stay in DHS, I was more than ready to leave. As the new year progressed, I discovered I was having a crisis of confidence – faith that this trip would end well, that things would work out, that we’d find a place to call home after a year of traveling. It wasn’t rational to feel that way, but I couldn’t talk myself out of it. I worried. It got worse by degrees, and by the end of our stay, I was convinced we’d be homeless and unemployed for a long time.
Maybe it was feeling crowded in an RV park after months of boondocking (the folks who moved in right next door despite multiple open sites all in a row nearby, and then packed their space with three vehicles, a futon, a dog pen, toys and more didn’t help); maybe it was the somewhat depressing town of DHS itself; or the high winds and freezing nights; maybe the area is a negative energy vortex and I needed another visit to the Integratron; or maybe simply being stationary in an urban area. Some of the reason is that it’s time for us to be part of something again – our volunteer activities helped fill any growing voids earlier in our journey. A frustrating search for routine medical care that came dispensed with an attitude, a high price tag, and a certain level of incompetence didn’t help. All that said, we stayed in a fine place and met many delightful people there – some we’ll stay in touch with and hope to see again. We also had some fantastic days hiking, and of course, a great visit with Kris’s mom. And yet, I was in a funk.
Visits to Palm Springs helped – a bright, happy town at the foot of gorgeous mountains. Late in our stay, we visited the art museum and had a wonderful evening experiencing the glassworks exhibit, creative and unexpected objects (like a bubble wrap chair) inspired by Brazil, and some surprising modern pieces that were hard to tear ourselves away from. Even stopping in town to pick up dog food was nice, since the mountain view was incredible. (We ran all of our errands there after learning DHS was not particularly safe at night.) But it was time to go. One last soak in the mineral pools, one last hot shower, and I was happy to pack up my hair dryer for new horizons.
And of all places, dry, dusty, strange Quartzsite was the right place to be. Three hours east, full of sunshine and tens of thousands more RVs than when we were here a month ago, my spirits lifted as we parked in the desert just east of town, drinking in the wide open spaces. We spent our first day biking through parts of town we missed on our first visit, marveling at the traffic jams and the number of people milling around the many new tent neighborhoods with even more stuff for sale. (In comparison, this was nearly a ghost town in December.) We thought so before, but with at least ten times as many vendors, it’s clear that you can find anything in Quartzsite. We admired the metal sculptures, bought some socks, and browsed the antiques, books, knives, rocks, beads, jewelry, junk, kitchen gadgets, RV accessories, and more.
On the second morning, with the sun shining again, we biked in for more touring – there’s just too much to see in one day. While Kris found a patch representing his old Army unit, we chatted with the vendor, Jim. Friendly, funny, and full of positive energy, Jim seemed genuinely interested and we ended up sharing our story of a year on the road. He was thrilled for us, and brimming with confidence that good things lie ahead – exactly what I needed to hear. A thirty minute conversation about life, decisions, and priorities – by the end, he invited us to stay with him at his home in Idaho if we were ever in the area. People amaze me. At a time when my optimism was so shaky, his kindness and encouragement was a great gift. And the gifts continued – we stopped in at the nearby Flatlander’s where we had found our horseshoe set the month before. Unprompted, the owner Larry was all smiles and good wishes, sharing his own positive energy, confidence in the future, and even advice for keeping negative people out of your life.
In an hour — in dry, dusty, strange Quartzsite — strangers had welcomed us, listened thoughtfully, encouraged us, shared ideas and experiences, and even opened their homes to us. We’ve long known that the people we’ve met this year have been the best part of the journey, and here was even more proof. How can I doubt what lies ahead? It was a remarkable morning. My optimism was back, my faith restored.