RV Women Memorial

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One of the reasons I really wanted to visit Celia’s Rainbow Gardens was because one of my readers at the RTR told me there was a memorial space out there for van dwelling women. That sounded really cool, so I went looking for the memorial one morning.

I didn’t know where within the gardens the memorial was, so I took my time looking around. Finally, I found what I’m pretty sure my reader was talking about.

Maybe I misunderstood what my reader told me, because the memorial isn’t exactly for van dwelling women. It’s broadly for women who travel in RVs and specifically for women in the RVing Women community.

This photo shows the small plaque on the rock at the back of the circle pictured above. The smaller plaques feature the names of RVing Women who have taken their final journey.

According to http://www.rvingwomen.org/,

RVing Women is a National network whose members come from across the US and Canada. Established by and for women who are interested in RVing, we have Chapters across the country that offer camping, educational, and social events. We are a diverse group of women who enjoy many indoor and outdoor activities and hobbies.

RVing Women offers support and friendship for women who plan to travel by RV, already own one, have hung up their keys, or are just dreaming about RV possibilities.

A sign in the RVing Women space says this memorial was built in 2011 by the women of Camp Runamucka.

From what I’ve read, members of different RVing Women chapters meet in Quartzsite each winter. They  camp together and attend workshops and socialize. Sometimes they have work days at the RVing Women memorial within Celia’s Rainbow Gardens. It is the RVing Women who maintain this memorial area to honor and remember their RVing sisters who have passed away.

I especially enjoyed looking at the rocks upon which folks have painted different types of RVs.

Throughout the memorial area, there are small plaques with names on them affixed to larger rocks. Each small plaque features the name of an RVing Woman who has passed away. I bet it is comforting to visit the memorial and find the name of an RV-loving friend or sister or daughter or mother or partner who has left this earth. It must be a good place to remember and reflect.

I wish there were a memorial space for van dwelling women. If there is one, I wish someone would tell me about it. If there isn’t, I wish someone would start it.

If any of my readers are interested in joining RVing Women, the group’s  website says the following about their mission, vision, and values:

Mission :

Provide women RVers, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or financial status, a supportive network and the opportunity to enjoy the RVing lifestyle in a safe and knowledgeable manner.

Vision:

A premier organization for women interested in the RVing lifestyle.

We Value:

  • Diversity of our members.
  • Integrity and respect.
  • The abilities, skills and resources of each member.
  • The time and efforts of those who provide leadership and support.
  • Our chapter structure which provides a supportive network.
  • Educational opportunities to promote safe RVing.

 

I took all of the photos in this post.

Roadside America (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/12493) gives these directions to get to Celia’s Rainbow Gardens: [from] I-10 exit 19. Drive north on Riggles Ave., take the second left, then make the first right onto Main St./Plymouth Ave. [F]rom E. Main Street drive North on S. Plymouth Ave. The closest intersection to the park is E. Senter St & N. Plymouth Ave, and the driveway is just north of that. This garden is accessed from a dirt drive into the Town Park, and has a sign. The RC Flying Field is just past the access.

Once inside Celia’s Rainbow Gardens, have a look at all the memorials while looking for the RVing Women space; I don’t know how to explain how to get there.

Celia’s Rainbow Gardens

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I heard of Celia’s Rainbow Gardens after my first trip to Quartzsite, AZ for the 2015 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR). Someone else who’d been at the RTR wrote about the gardens on her blog, and I was sorry I’d missed them. But I missed the gardens again both times I went through Quartzsite on my way to California, and I somehow managed to not make it out there when I was in town for the 2016 RTR. I vowed I would go to the gardens in 2017, and I did.

According to http://www.celiasrainbowgardens.com/,

Celia’s Rainbow Gardens, [are] located in the Quartzsite Town Park [and] encompass 8 acres of the 40 acre park. The gardens were inspired by the dreams of Celia Winer, an 8-year old girl whose goal in life was to make the world a better place.

The Roadside America website (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/12493) says,

One of the “memorials to dead people” found in Celia’s Rainbow Gardens.

Celia was not yet nine years old when she died in 1995. The town, assisted by local RV’ers, built a garden of rocks in her memory that continues to grow with memorials to dead people.

As someone who likes cemeteries (read posts  I wrote about cemeteries here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/05/16/ajo-cemetery/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/10/30/888/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/20/hi-jollys-tomb/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/05/29/old-kernville-cemetery/), I enjoyed walking around and looking at the memorials in the gardens. Many snowbirds come to Quartzsite year after year. Many of these folks never know each other in their hometowns or even their home states. When a member of a Quartzsite snowbird community dies, it must be nice for the survivors to have a place in the town where the friendship thrived to pay their respects and remember their friends.

There are more than just “memorials to dead people” in the gardens, and it’s not just a “garden of rocks either.” It’s a botanical garden of sorts, with lots of different species of cacti, palm trees, and other plants. The aforementioned Celia’s Rainbow Gardens website says “[a]ll plants, trees, cacti etc. will eventually have identification markers…”

There’s an archway with bells at the entrance to the gardens. This area is called The Hero’s Bell Garden. An article called “Vets Remembered Inside the Garden” (http://www.celiasrainbowgardens.com/News/2006/5-17-06.asp) explains, the

archway [is] made of telephone poles with a cross beam on which two huge iron bells [are] suspended. These bells can be rung during special services.

On the Celia’s Rainbow Gardens website, there is a map with information describing many of the areas of the gardens. Near the front of the gardens is

Celia’s Oasis—A special area in memory of Celia and other children
who are remembered…It [is] surrounded by a low wall with the handprint bricks made by the children Celia went to school with.

There’s a palm tree plaza where

[t]he large palm [sic] in this semi-circle were donated by Main Event owners Howard and Marilyn Armstrong, and were planted by his crew.

There are benches in this area and throughout the park so visitors have places to sit and reflect, pray, or meditate.

There’s also an area with a

mining equipment display donated by BLM, showing some of the early equipment used in the mines in this area.

Of course, nothing in Quartzsite which might draw visitors from out of the area is complete without at least one reference to a camel, so there is a camel silhouette in this area too.

Celia’s Rainbow Gardens offer folks the opportunity of some quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of Quartzsite commerce. However, even in January, the sun was strong and I got warm pretty quickly. The gardens are nice to visit, but as when you do anything in Quartzsite, even in the winter, bring a hat and some sunscreen and a bottle of water.

I took all of the photos in this post.

The Roadside America website gives the following directions to get to Celia’s Rainbow Gardens: [from] I-10 exit 19. Drive north on Riggles Ave., take the second left, then make the first right onto Main St./Plymouth Ave. [F]rom E. Main Street drive North on S. Plymouth Ave. The closest intersection to the park is E. Senter St & N. Plymouth Ave, and the driveway is just north of that. This garden is accessed from a dirt drive into the Town Park, and has a sign. The RC Flying Field is just past the access. 

 

Saguaros in Bloom

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Last year, I spent the first couple of weeks of May in Why and Ajo, AZ. I was waiting to receive a check from my insurance company, and I didn’t have anyone who could forward it to me at my next destination. I was a little bit stuck waiting for the check to arrive.

I tried to use my time well. I wrote and scheduled a lot of blog posts, read, cleaned the van, and made hats. Every day I checked the mailbox, and day after day, there was nothing in there for me.

The days got hotter and hotter. By the time I left in the middle of the month, daytime temperatures were reaching the high 90s. Although the temperature dropped at night, after baking in the sun all day, my van only cooled enough for me to sleep comfortably after several hours. Luckily, I felt safe where I was staying and could leave my doors open to the cool night air long after dark.

The upside of staying in the Sonoran Desert until May was seeing the saguaros bloom.

Tjs Garden blog (https://tjsgarden.com/2015/04/23/saguaro-cactus-bloom-flower-national-park-arizona/) says,

The Saguaro cactus will produce white flowers from April to June.

The Saguaro flowers do not bloom all at the same time.  Only a few flowers bloom each night waiting to be pollinated and then wilt by early afternoon.

According to the website of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (https://www.desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Flowers%20and%20Fruit.php),

Saguaro flowers bloom for less than 24 hours. They open at night and remain open through the next day.

Saguaro flowers are usually found near the tops of the stems and arms of the cactus. They are white in color about 3 inches (8cm) in diameter.

During the night the flowers are pollinated by the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. During the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds such as the white-winged dove.

It was a challenge to get photos of flowers growing on the tops of very high saguaros. I had to stretch my arms as far up as possible, use the camera’s zoom feature, and hope for the best. I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the beauty of the saguaro blooms.  I particularly like the shots where I can clearly see the wilted flowers, those currently in bloom, and the buds about to burst open.

The aforementioned Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum website says,

After the flowers have been pollinated they mature into bright red fruit. When the fruit ripens it split open showing juicy red pulp. Each fruit can contain up to 2000 small black seeds.

I didn’t have to hang around until the flowers turned to fruit. My check arrived just before I had to leave for my California job. I hit the road before the desert temperature rose into the triple digits. It would have been nice to see the fruit, but I’m satisfied with having witnessed the flowers.

I took the photos in this post.

 

 

 

Do You Grow?

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It was in the last days of my second season as a camp host when I went to the group campground to check in the astronomy club staying there for the weekend. When I asked around, I was told the person who’d made the reservation had not yet arrived. A nice guy in my age group offered to sign the permit, so I wrote down his address and other pertinent information.

I meant to give him a fire permit too, so using their camp stoves would be legal, but I realized hours later that I’d forgotten to do so.

The next morning when I went back to the group campground, I had the fire permit ready for the same guy to sign. I’d simply copied the man’s address from the camping permit onto the fire permit. When I found the man and asked him to sign the permit, he jokingly asked if I’d memorized his address.

I explained I’d copied his address from the camping permit. Then he asked if I planned to visit.

I began to wonder if the man was flirting with me. Men never flirt with me, so I’m not sure I could recognize flirting if it actually happened. His being in my age group made flirting more probable, but I decided he was just being friendly.

I told him I couldn’t visit because I didn’t even know where his town was.

It’s in Santa Cruz County, he told me. We have a big organic farm. You could park your van on our farm.

(I don’t know exactly who the other people included in his “we” were.)

I made a bland comment about it must be nice to live on a farm. Then I  said, Do you grow…?

I meant to end the sentence with something clever, but nothing clever came to mind. (That’s what I get for I opening my mouth with no plan on how to end what I’ve already started to say.) Instead of ending the sentence with something at least reasonable, if not clever (beets? pumpkins?) I simply let the sentence hang there unfinished.

Then I realized, Santa Cruz County and Do you grow? when taken together have a definite marijuana connotation. What if he thought I was asking if they grew weed on the organic farm?

I’d never ask a stranger if he grew pot. It seems like a rude question, even in California, seeing how marijuana is federally illegal and all. It’s none of my business if someone is growing weed. It’s safer for everyone to keep marijuana cultivation on a need to know basis, and I don’t need to know!

I’m not sure if the man recognized my awkwardness. He started talking about the zucchini he and whoever else lives on the farm grows. He told me all about the big, big zucchini.

Any flirting that may have been going on was entirely incompetent.

 

Asked to Leave

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I want to say I was kicked out, but that would make the event a little more dramatic than it actually was.

I was in Truth or Consequences, at Passion Pie Cafe, as I’d been so many times before. I was there primarily to drop off my submission for the Valentine’s Day Sacred Heart art contest, but I figured I’d also get some breakfast and use their free WiFi for a few hours while I got some writing done.

During past visits to T or C, I’ve spent hours at a time at Passion Pie. I’ve sat there from nearly open (7am) to nearly close (3pm). The workers have always been…if not friendly…gracious to me. Actually, the more often I came in, the friendlier the workers became, maybe because I started to seem like a regular, or maybe because I usually put a dollar in the tip jar. In any case, I’d been there before, hunkered down and using the WiFi for hours.

The coffee shop seemed different on this visit to town. Some of the furniture was different, bigger, maybe more comfortable, but with the effect of reducing the seating in a small room that already couldn’t accommodate everyone at the busiest times of the day. I’m not sure why the owners of a coffee shop would want to reduce seating, but that’s what seems to have happened.

The workers were different too. On the couple of times I’d already gone in since I’d returned to T or C, I hadn’t seen the woman who’d worked there five days a week during my past visits. She was the woman who was not exactly friendly (at least by my Southern standards), but was always gracious and kind to me. She always offered me a refill on my iced tea and never acted as if I were sitting at a table longer than my allotted time. Where had she gone? I don’t know, but the woman working the counter on the day in question was not her.

I dropped off my collage and filled out a form with my contact info. Then I ordered a breakfast croissant (no meat, and yes, please, do add tomatoes) and grabbed a scone from the day-old basket. My total came to almost $9. I pulled out my debit card, signed the screen with my fingertip. This, I think, is where I made my fatal mistake. I forgot to leave a tip.

I usually leave a tip. I’m superstitious about leaving tips, a holdover from my days as a guest house concierge when I was paid cash commissions on tours I sold. I have to keep that cash flowing, I came to believe. If I don’t share the cash I get, I won’t get any more cash, I came to believe. Maybe because I’d been out of the cash economy for a couple of years, I’d forgotten my own superstition. Maybe because I paid with a debit card, I’d simply spaced on the tip. Maybe it was the signing my name with my forefinger that threw me off. The bottom line, I realized later, is that I failed to leave a tip.

In my own defense, the service offered at Passion Pie is minimal. I ordered my food from the woman working the counter. She rang up my total and collected my payment. Then she took one step to the window into the kitchen and called out my order to the cook. When my food was done, the cook placed it on the counter and called out my name, at which time I walked over and picked it up. The woman at the counter didn’t offer me any extra or special service. She didn’t even carry a single item out to my table. Still, I probably should have left a dollar in the jar.

I picked a very small table with two chairs. My laptop barely fit on the table, but I didn’t want to take up room I wasn’t entitled to. Also, the battery on my laptop no longer holds a charge, so I must always be tethered to an electrical outlet. The table was near an outlet. I pulled out what I needed for my writing, plugged in my laptop, signed on to the internet. I balanced my breakfast on the edge of the table as I scarfed it down. Then I got to work.

The cafe was fairly busy as people came in for coffee and breakfast. Other tables filled up, and I decided if I saw another single person unable to find a place to sit, I would offer him or her my unoccupied chair. I glanced around and noticed the few outside tables were empty (to be fair, it was a chilly morning), and no one in the cafe was obviously without a seat. A couple of people were in line at the counter, but I had no idea if they wanted to linger in the shop or get their food and beverages to go.

That’s when the woman who’d taken my order left the counter and walked toward my table. I thought she was going to clean up the condiment area immediately to my left, but I realized she was there for me when she said, Excuse me…

I didn’t expect what came next. We have people waiting for tables…

She didn’t say, You have to leave! but her message was clear. She wanted me gone. She thought I had stayed too long.

I noticed there were no signs proclaiming a time limit on tables or a minimum purchase amount for people who wanted to linger. If there is any sort of official time limit or spending minimum, the information is kept super secret until the worker tells the offender that it’s time to go. At least if there were a sign, I could have made an informed decision about what I wanted to do. I’m confident I would not have bought an overpriced restaurant breakfast and chosen to sit at a tiny table if I had known I would be walking out of the place less than two hours later.

I didn’t know what to do other than to gather up my things and go. I suppose I could have argued with the worker, but that’s not my style. Maybe I should have offered her a bribe. In any case, I left. And I haven’t been back. And I don’t think I will go back.

But I did get a bit of a consolation prize. My collage won third place in the Passion Pie contest, and the owner of the place wrote me a check for $50.

This is my award-winning collage, Valentine for My Own Dear Heart. It won 3rd prize in the Passion Pie Sacred Heart contest.

Pelican Spa

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The first time I visited Truth or Consequences, NM in March of 2014, I was not able to soak at the Pelican Spa (306 S. Pershing Street). I called ahead and asked if they accepted soakers on a walk-in basis, and I was told no. Only guests renting a room in one of the many Pelican properties could soak in their hot mineral water baths. I was disappointed because I wanted to try every bathhouse in town, but I soon put it out of my mind. There were plenty of other places in T or C to soak; I didn’t need to pout over the Pelican.

In February of 2017, Coyote Sue helped me fulfill my desire to soak at the Pelican Spa. One morning during the time of the great T or C sickness, she texted me and asked what I was doing. I was in town with time on my hands, so she invited me to soak with her at the Pelican. She had some soaking credit there and was allowed to share her tub with a guest. Did I want to soak with her?

Yes! I responded immediately. I knew hot mineral water would feel so good to my sick body.

Soaking sounds wonderful, I told her. Then I had to ask, Bathing suit?

She said she preferred no suit and asked about my preference.

I said, No suit! Thank goodness! (I hate bathing suits!)

We set a time to meet, and I arrived promptly.

I  looked at the Pelican’s website (http://www.pelican-spa.com/), and it seems as if only the only guest room with a mineral soaking tub in it is the Aqua Room. Folks who stay in any of the other rooms can soak in one of the Pelican’s private indoor baths.

There are four tubs that fit two people and one larger tub that fits approximately four-six people. Soaking is unlimited and runs on a first come first serve basis.

I also found this information on the websoite:

Come soak in the healing. Enjoy our crystal clear, sulfur free natural hot mineral baths with some of the highest natural mineral contents available in the world.

Soaks are $6 per guest and available by reservation at the spa.

I take that to mean soaking is available to the general public, with reservations, but I don’t know if that $6 is for an hour or only half an hour. An email (seaproptorc@yahoo.com) or phone call (575-894-0055 ) to the Pelican’s office should clear up the mystery.

The tubs available to the public are housed in small private rooms with doors that latch. The soaking rooms are near the office, and Coyote Sue led me in like someone who already knew her way around. The room we went to was small, but with enough room for us both to move around and remove our many winter layers. The room was also clean.

Our tub was maybe a little longer than a standard bathtub, maybe a little wider, but substantially deeper. There was room for both of us, and I didn’t feel crowded. The water was delightfully hot and my weary body relaxed into it as Coyote Sue and I chatted.

I wish I could say the hot mineral water healed me, but in reality, I stayed sick for quite a while longer. However, the water and the conversation did reduce my stress and lift my spirits. The free soak was a wonderful gift from a friend.

Now if I could just figure out how to gain entry to soaking at Fire Water Lodge.

(Read more about the Truth or Consequences bath houses here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/05/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/06/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/08/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences-part-2/.)

 

 

 

 

The Charles Motel Revisited

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While I’m on the subject of bathhouses in Truth or Consequences, I’ll share my most recent experience at the Charles Motel and Spa (601 N Broadway Street).

Every since I first visited T or C, I’ve frequented the Charles. I’m not sure what the current prices are, but in 2014 and 2015, a person could soak for an hour for only $5, and a towel was provided!

I’d heard folks talk about soaking on the roof of the Charles, but I’d never done it. It was more expensive than soaking in the regular bath area, and I didn’t feel as if I needed an entire jacuzzi to myself. However, I found a coupon in the February issue of the free Cobblestone newsletter I mentioned in the post about The Hoosier. The coupon was a two-for-one: two people could soak on the roof jacuzzi for the price of one. Yes! I wanted this!

The Man and I had recently become (*clears throat*) friendlier, so I figured it would be ok for us to soak naked together. (Oh! How I hate a bathing suit!) I casually told him about the Charles and the roof and the hot water and offered to treat him to a reduced price soak. He said yes, so I called to make a reservation.

I found out the jacuzzi on the roof would be filled with mineral water just like I’d soaked in downstairs. The mineral water was pumped up to the roof, but it was the same good stuff. I asked about the temperature of the water on the roof. 113 degrees, the man on the other end of the phone said.

The night we’d pulled into town, I drove us directly to the Indian Springs bathhouse (218 Austin Street) and treated us each to a soak. The Man and I weren’t quite so friendly then, so I’d gotten us separate pools (the price was the same), and let the man have the larger one. When we met up again after half an hour of soaking, he said he’d liked it, but it wasn’t very hot. I hoped 113 degrees would be hot enough for him.

We arrived at the Charles a few minutes prior to our 8pm reservation. It was February and already nighttime. I went in and paid the $10 for the two of us. Bargain! The young man working threw in two towels for free, then took us upstairs to show us how to operate the jacuzzi. Once we knew what to do, he took off, closing the door behind him, and left us alone on the roof.

The jacuzzi area was fenced off by high walls.  Although there were two jacuzzis up there, one was covered and we had the entire roof area to ourselves. (I’m not sure if that’s how roof soaks always work or if we were getting a special Valentine’s month romantic package.)

The Man decided he had to go back downstairs to utilize the restroom, so I got the hot water flowing. By the time The Man returned, the big tub was filling, and I was somewhat concealed under the water. The Man disrobed, climbed in, and let out a sigh of satisfaction. Yes, it turned out 113 degrees was plenty hot for him.

While streetlamps provided light to see by, we still had a good view of the night sky. It was wonderful to soak in the hot water while looking at the stars and the moon.

When our hour was up, we drained the tub, dried off and dressed, then made our way back to the van and drive off into the night.

(Read more about the Truth or Consequences bath houses here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/05/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/06/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/08/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences-part-2/.)

I took the photo in this post.