Day 9 – What kind of clowns go to Mexico just for cheap booze? That would be us.

Leaving Las Vegas this morning. Not the way Nic Cage did, so that’s a plus.

Boy, that alarm clock can sure be annoying after so many days of sleeping in added to the late night last night, but I finally get up and ingest enough caffeine to get my brain going. I’d packed everything I could yesterday, so all I had to do was shove our pj’s and shower bags in and do one last idiot check. Good thing too, Mike found a pair of my shorts under a pillow that had been thrown on a chair! I’m usually so good about keeping track of things this sort of freaked me out.

When we’re on motorcycle trips and spend every night in a different hotel I have a laminated checklist (of course I have a list) reminding me of everything we need to do before leaving in the morning. I clip it to my tank bag and just go down the list. When I get to the last item I know we’ve taken care of everything and I don’t have to spend the first hour on the road worrying that something was forgotten.

Of course, since we’re not on a motorcycle journey and we’re not moving every night, I don’t have a list so I get to spend the first hour in the car worrying I’ve forgotten something.


Fortunately, the beautiful sunrise does take my mind off of things for awhile.

It’s another absolutely gorgeous day. We’ve had wonderful weather so far and shorts are starting to feel normal after months wearing jeans and sweaters.

Our first stop today is Quartzsite, where two couples we’ve been friends with for years are snowbirding. We pull into town around noon:

If you haven’t heard of Quartzsite, it’s sort of a weird place.

This is what it looks like during the winter “season”

And this is pretty much what it looks like during the summer:

Yep, those are all RV’s in the first picture. The area became popular with the boondocker set in the 1960’s and has grown every year since. Although dry camping used to be the only option, now people purchase tiny plots of land with water and sewer hookups so they don’t have to pay an outside service to bring water and dump their tanks every week.

The population can burgeon to nearly a million people during the big rock and gem shows, then dwindle to less than 3,000 during the summer.

At least the name is easy to figure out, since it’s literally a quartz site. Rock hounds scour the surrounding hills for agates, limonite cubes, gold and of course quartz. This brought the rock and gem shows to the area, and there are now as many as 8 major shows here a year.

Besides that, it’s got a nice used book store with a very interesting proprietor. Although you might not want to ask him to find a book on a lower shelf if you happen to be standing behind him. (photos on that page are decidedly PG13-rated).

Our friends Bob and Cheryl have been coming here for almost 10 years now, and our friends John and Cindy started last year. Both couples retired early, Bob’s the oldster of the group at just 72. We don’t see enough of either couple, so we’re really happy to be able to at least sit and have lunch with them at one of the local cafes.

We pull into the parking lot and are surrounded by absolutely ancient humans. I blurt out to Mike “We’re going to feel like teenagers in this crowd!” Holy smokes, the thought that these people are still driving, let alone behind the wheel of massive RV’s strikes fear into my heart.

As we walk to the door I notice 10 people trying to back out of the parking lot at the same time, all reverse lights and brake lights because no one can turn their head far enough to see if someone else is moving or not, so they’re all gesturing at each other to go, which of course none of them can see. I think they were still there when we left an hour later.

We have a wonderful time gabbing with our friends, but too soon it’s time to leave. We want to stop in Algodones since Mike is running low on Kahlua. Yes, we are actually going in to Mexico for 2 liters of cheap hooch. $6 bucks for parking, walking the gauntlet of beggars, dealing with US customs on the way back, so we can save $8 on alcohol.

I never claimed we were very smart.

Fortunately, Algodones is extremely safe. Tons of Americans come here for cheap dental work and eyeglasses.

See, you know we’re in another country because the Stop sign doesn’t read STOP.

It’s basically like the USA but with more stray dogs and fewer copyright laws.

We wander around awhile and check out all the cheap pottery, jewelry and tee shirts, but don’t see anything we can’t live without (except, apparently, the booze). If we had more time I’d get a pair of glasses here. I really need new glasses and you can’t beat the prices.

Customs is quick and easy, although it always makes me nervous. Those guys have NO sense of humor.

Back on the road again, we drive by the Imperial Sand Dunes. It’s strange to be riding in a car and looking at a place that we’ve ridden on quads so many times over the years.

It’s like driving past a Disney park without going in. Serious bummer.

We follow Highway 8 as it parallels the border until we start climbing Mountain Springs Pass and travel through some amazingly rugged country.

There’s a wind farm at the top.

I love watching those big blades slowly swoop around, it’s mesmerizing. Fortunately, being a passenger allows me the freedom to stare, quite a bit different from traveling by motorcycle where I can only glance at things like this before I have to get my eyes back on the road and the traffic.

I miss the solitude I experience on the bike, but I do appreciate having the luxury of gazing at scenery and being able to talk to Mike about what we’re seeing without having to save it all up for our next gas stop.

Our bed tonight is at the La Mesa Holiday Inn. We’re both looking forward to a nice room and good night’s sleep. I like Holiday Inns when we can get them because they have consistently good beds, great showers, clean laundry room and other facilities. Laundry is necessary since we have 7 days of clothes and we’re on our 9th day.

No, I’m not turning underwear inside-out so we can get another use out of it, we have travel clothes that are easy to wash in the sink and that dry quickly. These make up about half of our wardrobe so I’m able to keep us comfortably in clean clothes for almost 2 weeks, but I’m not washing heavy cotton shorts in the sink!

While I do the laundry, Mike calls the gal that’s watching the cats. I get back to the room and he’s off the phone and very upset. Our older Sabrina cat isn’t eating well at all, and she seems to have trouble moving around without effort. Mike is ready to leave tonight and head home.

We’ve got the cat camera set up, we can see Sabrina moving around so we know she’s not totally incapacitated. She doesn’t act like she’s in pain, but Mike is still very worried. I am totally frustrated. I don’t want to say it’ll be okay and then have something happen, because then it will be my fault. But we have expensive park tickets for the zoo and Disneyland, and darn it, this is the part of the vacation that I’ve been looking forward to the most!

Argh! It’s NOT FAIR.

Okay, selfish temper tantrum over. We talk it out and make a compromise. We’ll do San Diego Zoo tomorrow, Disneyland Tuesday and Wednesday as planned, then head home on Thursday. Mike’s not thrilled and I’m not exactly happy, so it’s a perfect compromise, right?

I’m able to get the laundry done by 9pm and we’re exhausted. Fortunately the zoo doesn’t open until 10am so we’ll be able to sleep in tomorrow morning before packing and heading out.

I’m woken by the alarm clock which seems to be going off right next to my side of the bed and it’s super loud. I slap at the nightstand in a blurry haze and finally wake up enough to realize it’s not an alarm clock, it’s a fire alarm. I find my glasses, check the clock (3am), and grab the most important thing in the room at this moment – my bra. Seriously. The place may be burning to the ground but at least my bosom will be corralled.

Mike looks at me like I’m a complete idiot (reasonable) checks the door (cool) and heads to the front desk which is thankfully just a few steps from our room. The night manager and maintenance guy give him the deer-in-the-headlights stare and shout that it’s a false alarm…they think.

Well, that’s reassuring…I think.

I’ve got a very sensitive sniffer, and I don’t smell anything even remotely smoke-like so I’m not really worried (I know, some of you think we’re crazy for not just grabbing everything and running out the door, but not a single other guest is doing that, so we feel relatively safe). I begin packing up because even if the place isn’t burning down there’s no way we’re getting back to sleep. Mike takes a shower. I take a shower. The alarm continues to ring. My head hurts. I get everything packed and make sure we haven’t forgotten anything by throwing every single item that isn’t ours on the bed – including the clock radio and all those little folding cards they put all over the room. Stupid I know, but this alarm is going off and I can’t think. Suddenly the alarm stops. My head keeps throbbing in time to the ghost alarm that’s still ringing in my ears.

The fire department has arrived and shut the thing off. False alarm. It’s 4am and we’re packed and ready to drive to a location 15 minutes away that doesn’t open for another 6 hours.

Does Omelette Factory have Wifi? Why yes, they do. They also have coffee. And omelettes. And wifi. Did I already mention that? I think I’m still hearing that alarm.

We sit, stare at each other, and drink coffee. I have a really good omelette and gradually wake up. We have more coffee. The sun comes up. It’s a brilliantly warm and clear morning and the ringing sound has finally left my brain.

I think it’s time to start the day!


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