Saturday, November 20, 2010
ROCKS OF AGES
Saturday 11/20/10 When we walked out the door of the Black Rock RV Park/Motel in Brenda AZ, we saw a wind sock across the highway straining to be set free. It was pointing due east. Not good news for 2 people who are headed west on bicycles. Disc-shaped clouds resembling UFO's hung low. As the mountain peaks & clouds mingled, it created a scene of castles in the sky. When we walked to the office for coffee, we could feel the force of the wind. Fortunately, we had logged some extra miles yesterday so we had the luxury of making today a shorter ride. As we rode through the desert, we were again blessed with beautiful scenery. Black rocks were scattered on the desert floor that were once spewed from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Four miles west of Brenda, our route joined I-10. That was our first ever experience of biking on an interstate highway & it was a noisy 12 miles. Amazingly, a covey of quail with their wonderful topknots caught our eye running alongside the interstate. The perspective of the green informational signs we seem to take for granted from car windows, towered over us like huge structures. We arrived in Quartzsite (pop 3,354), located in the Mojave Desert with the nearby Kofa, New Water, and Plomosa Mountains providing topographic relief. This area is a rock hounds' paradise with agates, gold, limonite, and quartz being just a few of the treasures to be found. The town doesn't really resemble a stereotypic town. As we rode through Main Street, we passed continuous RV Parks, RV sales lots, and large tents housing either flea markets or swap meets. The Visitor's Guide listed 70 Mobile Home/RV Parks in the vicinity that are operational between October and March when the average daytime temps are in the 70's. We now know where all those RV's we see on the road go during the winter - Quartzsite! We rode our bikes to the Hi Jolly Monument & Cemetary that pays tribute to Hadji Ali who was born in Syria. He came to the U.S. during the mid 1800's as a camel trainer with a boat load of camels purchased by the U.S. Army. The theory being that camels could out perform horses in the American Southwest. (See previous blog re: Camp Verde, Tx) Hadji, along with others, were recruited to educate the military on how to handle the beasts. Reportedly, the experiment failed and all the trainers went home with the exception of Hadji. He remained and became a prospector and beloved citizen of Quartzsite. Locals called him "Hi Jolly" because it was apparently too difficult for them to pronounce "Hadji Ali." From our motel window, we can see a mountain within walking distance. We took a stroll and saw retirees on ATV's patrolling the trails like ravens looking for a shiny object to pluck. Pieces of quartz laid everywhere.