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Friday, January 31, 2020

Faywood Hot Springs

On January 27, 2020, we moved from Benson, Arizona to Faywood Hot Springs, New Mexico.  We spotted this rustic little spot next door to City of Rocks State Park when we visited the park a couple of years ago, and we thought it would be fun to visit and take a soak.

The "resort" has cabins and campsites -- some for RV's and some for cars or tents.  It is gated, admitting day or overnight guests from 10am to 10pm.  Here, Kathy checks to see if we can get in when we arrive:

The hot springs have been visited since the time of the Mimbres culture. It was a successful resort in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1952, the establishment was demolished and became a ghost town. The land was purchased in 1993 and developed into a hot springs resort again.

The current visitor center was the previous Faywood Hot Springs Hotel, which could serve up to 125 guests, was one-storied, with a three-sided courtyard and an almost 900 feet long veranda. It had a large dining room, parlors, a writing room, barber shop, gun room, and a billiard room. Spring water was cooled and piped into the hotel rooms and bath houses.

The site is very rustic.  A shaded walkway leads from the reception center to the public pools, which include clothing-optional and clothing-required sections:

After checking in, we settled into our campsite for the night.  The first morning, we were up with the sun and walked around the property, which shields its clothing-optional sections with a rustic wooden fence:

A whimsical Kokopelli sculpture graces one of the gardens.  Kathy was inspired to lend her spirit to the moment!

Our campsite was graced with all the amenities, including modern bathrooms and trash removal:

As we returned to our RV, we spotted this cheeky roadrunner perched in the tree next to our site:

On the top of the hill next to the campground is a star-gazing area with a Stonehenge-type ring of tall stones --

-- and it boasts a hand-made swivelling love-seat that permits its occupants to lean back and gaze at the stars without craning their necks:

The campground boasts a large populations of fowl, including some exotic chickens and a flock of peacocks who parade around the campground as if they owned it:

We had a chance to soak three times during our stay here.  One of them was with our friends Dick and Gaila (more on that in a subsequent blog entry).  But the most "invigorating" was our sunrise soak in 29F weather on the morning we had to move on from the campground.  We took the time for this bundled-up selfie before dipping into the warm mineral waters --

-- and gave ourselves the pleasure of a long morning soak before returning to the RV for breakfast and to pack up for our move on from Faywood:

One of our next stops will be at Big Bend National Park, which has its own natural hot springs, so we expect to share another one of these warm experiences with you in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Hangin With the Boomers in Quartzsite

Hi Blog!

On Sunday, January 12, 2020, we left our RV park in Quartzsite, Arizona and drove out into the Arizona desert where we meet up with members of our RV Club - the Escapee Boomers. The agreed upon meeting place is known as Boomerville. During the 14 days we spent there, over 220 rigs came and went. Here is a drone photo of Boomerville 2020 (Credit:Daniel Knowles):

Four times during our two week stay, we had pancake breakfasts. The proceeds from the sale of pancakes go to CARE - Continued Assistance for Retired Escapees. CARE is designed specifically to allow people to stay in their RV homes for as long as they'd like, while still receiving any extra care and help they need after medical emergencies.

Gretchen leads a team of volunteers. The photo below is from Pancake and Bacon Day!

Every day at 4:00 p.m., folks bring their chairs to the big fire ring to recap the days events and outline the events planned for the next day. There is no set agenda before Boomerville starts. Once everyone arrives, a blank event binder is put in the Headquarters Tent. Boomers then start putting items on the agenda. Here is a photo from one of the typical Happy Hour gatherings.

Activities ranged from discussions on Alaska, Maritimes, CBD Oil, InstaPot, and Valley Fever to more physical activities like morning hikes, Geocache outings, Jeep drives and shopping trips to the RV Tent Show. One of the big events scheduled every year is the CARE Action. Here is an arial view of the auction, also courtesy Daniel Knowles. While we only had one item to donate this year, we came away with some really nice Boomerville 2020 hats, a giant bottle of bubbly, and a tray of cinnamon buns!  We shared the last two items with our Boomer friends before leaving Quartzsite.

When we weren't attending discussion groups, hiking, Jeeping or shopping, we were hangin' out with our little group within a group we call the Unusual Suspects at a place we call Whiskeytown.

We didn't spend all our time in Boomerville; there were road trips to the Swansea Ghost Town, the Desert Bar and the RV Big Tent Show. No trip to the Tent Show would be complete without a stop at Beerbelly's Adult Day Care Center.

Every morning, except pancake days, we would awake before the sun and take our coffee for a walk.

Remember that tray of cinnamon buns we won at the Auction? Well, we decided to share them with the Unusual Suspects.

During our stay, we watched several football playoff games on Tony's outside TV. With no horse in the race, it was fun to sit back and enjoy all the hoopla and tailgate munchies.

The morning sunrise walks provided some amazing shadow selfies.

On Saturday, January 18, 2020, some folks went to the Desert Bar in Parker, while we drove over to Blythe for the Bluegrass Festival.

The Care Auction was held on Thursday, January 23, 2018. Here, Connie shows off the latest in sun protection. Shiny!

From his perch in the last row, Dave could keep track of the other bidders to make sure he was the highest bidder. Kathy got volunteered to be a runner to make sure the cashier and the winning bidder both got their copies of the auction item receipt.

One of the highlights for women of the group is getting a chance to shop for new Snap Jewelry. Here the "Snappettes" show off their latest acquisitions.

This year, a couple different musical groups came to entertain our gathering. We had a chance to listen and sing along with Papa Greybeard. He was so good, they asked him to come back again the following week for a second show.

It is hard to believe that two weeks went by so fast. During our stay, we had so many great adventures. We also ate and drank very well. Let's see, there was Bloody Mary Sunday, Whiskey Wednesday and the First Annual Gin Tasting. Not to mention those Potlucks - Football Tailgate, Asian Night, Baja Mexican, BBQ Night and Italian Pasta Night. The diet will officially begin as soon as we eat all the leftovers! 

Goodbye Boomerville. It will be a couple years before we come back. Try not to have too much fun without us.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goobye!
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Bathtub Full of Boomers!

Hi Blog!

Every January, our RV club, the Escapees - Boomers, gets together in the desert near Quartzsite, Arizona, for two weeks of fun.  During those two weeks, anyone can suggest an activity or lead a discussion group. While it's fun to sit around the campfire and talk about our trips to Alaska or volunteering for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, what really brings us to Quartzsite is the desert hiking. So, being good Boomers, we put on the schedule a short hike from Old Boomerville to a very unique desert landmark known as "The Bathtub."

On Friday, January 24, 2020, we agreed to meet anyone who wanted to come on this modest 2.2 mile hike at the entrance to Old Boomerville, which is about 15 miles from New Boomerville. As the time for the hike approached, we gathered our 14 participants for a trailhead photo. Just as we were about to leave for the hike, three more vehicles appeared and 10 more joined our merry band of Boomer bathers.

Since the hike was only just over two miles, we encouraged folks to take their time. No need to race across the desert. The slower you go the more you notice. Ann certainly embraced that idea.

Using the waypoint for the bathrub and a hand-held GPS, the group walked in the correct direction more or less. All we had to do was keep the group walking toward that lumpy hump.

Of course, there were plenty of opportunities for rock hounding, bird watching and cactus photos.

In the desert, it is best not to follow a trail. By spreading out, we lessen our impact on the fragile soil. We also did our best to pick up any trash we found. However, this led to an interesting discussion between what is trash and what is an artifact of historic mining and military training exercises.

One by one the group slowly approached our destination. We have tried for several years to learn what exactly this concrete tub was used for, but we were not able to find a real answer. Some have speculated that it was a watering hole for cattle, or a sluice basin for gold mining, or perhaps a water cache for army maneuvers. For now, it is a desert mystery.

Now you might wonder how we were able to get this many Boomers to pose for a photo.

It was actually easy. We bribed them with bubbly and dark chocolate!

Everyone got comfy on the rim of the tub and enjoyed their picnic lunch.

We did have a few misadventures. A pair of sunglasses and a fork ended up in the bottom of the tub. You'll be happy to know they were rescued.

There once was a Geocache hidden in this drainage tube. However, after several attempts by several different Boomers, we concluded that the cache is not longer there. Judging by the amount of packrat debris in the area, it was probably stolen by some dirty rat.

After lunch, we began our meander back to the trailhead. Goodbye Old Boomerville! 

Jeeping to Swansea Ghost Town - 2020

Hi Blog!

Friday, January 17, 2020, was a busy day. We were up early to make sure we had a spot in line for homemade Boomerville cinnamon buns! Because the line was so long, we felt guilty buying more than just two. There were 220 RVs in Boomerville and only 79 buns! Would it surprise you to know that our two cinnamon buns never made it back to our rig? Their warm ooey gooeyness was devoured just steps from the front of the line. It was the only way to keep them safe from the hungry horde!

Those buns supercharged us for the adventure ahead. Last year, we drove our Jeep over to the Swansea Ghost Town.  To see our blog from that trip, click this link.  We thought it an adventure worth sharing with friends. This year, we decided to lead a small caravan of the Unusual Suspects to Swansea for a short hike and picnic.

The townsite is located near Bouse, Arizona, which is about an hour's drive from Boomerville.  Swansea was settled around 1909. It served as a mining town as well as a location for processing and smelting the copper ore taken from the nearby mines. Prospecting and mining in the area first began around 1862, but the remote location and lack of transportation kept activity to a minimum. As you can see from the photo below, the area is still pretty remote.

The area is managed by the BLM. There is a rest stop and informational markers just before you enter the townsite. Pictured below is our caravan. From left to right: the blue van is Connie and Jim, behind them is Jim Dicke, white Jeep is Terry and Jane, white truck is Duane and Jean, the tracker is Bob and Cathy, the grey Jeep is Tony and DeeDee with our little tan Jeep Dusty leading the way.

There is safety in numbers. The desert is unforgiving. Just ask the guy who drove this truck.

As we drove down into town, we saw a number of adobe structures, the remains of the railroad depot, two cemeteries, and several mine shafts. Remains of numerous cars can be seen scattered throughout the site. Here are photos of some of the structures:

While many of the structures are in ruin, some have been stabilized. The BLM has restored roofs to the rows of the single-miner's quarters:

After a quick walk around town to stretch our legs, we did what Boomers do best. We pulled out the camp chairs, circled up, and began eating and drinking! As the afternoon wore on, we decided to pack it up and head back to Boomerville. You'll be happy to know we all made it back in time for Happy Hour. And so ends another adventure!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Hike to Stone Cabin - Boomerville 2020

Hi Blog!

On Sunday, January 12, 2020, we moved our RV from 88 Shades in Quartzsite to Boomerville. For those of you who have never stayed in Boomerville, it is difficult to describe. Boomerville is not a location, but a state of mind. Every January, folks from our RV club, the Escapee Boomers, gather in the desert near Quartzsite for a couple weeks of desert fun. For the past two years, the Boomers have circled up near mile marker 3 off Plomosa Road. Before that, Boomerville was located in Scadden Wash. While the new location offers plenty of room for the Boomers to spread out, the old spot was closer to the mountains and one of our favorite hikes. On Monday, January 13, 2020, we decided to pay Old Boomerville a visit and hike that favorite hike to the Stone Cabin.

We like to start our hikes with a trailhead selfie, but with no real trail, just open desert, we decided to let Dusty mark the start of our hike.

We set off from Scadden Wash, crossed Mitchell Mine Road, and walked out into the desert and up Smith Wash, roughly paralleling BLM Road 190 as it runs east into the western edge of the Plomosa Mountains. The hike took us past the gravesite of Elizabth M. Mullen who died in 1996. We first saw this grave in 2016. Time and the elements have almost covered it.

We continued hiking up large alluvial plains which lead straight up into the mountains.

We noticed what looked like a geoglyph carved in the desert surface. Could this be a bird or spider like those on the Nazca Desert in Peru? Unfortunately, we didn't discover ancient alien art, but tire tracks from some ATVer doing wheelies.

Just behind this lumpy hump was the valley which we would follow up to the stone cabin.

Mining - especially for gold and silver - has been prevalent in this region for centuries.  It is still possible to stake a claim to an area of ground, and we saw several claim stakes such as those shown in the photo below.

One notable historic site we passed is known as the "Spanish Wall," which is said to have been a retaining wall build of stone on one side of an old Spanish gold mine. In recent years, the wall was vandalized, leaving only the left portion in the photo below intact:

While we didn't follow the exact path from our two previous hikes, we did find our way to the stone cabin.

Our return hike was all downhill. Off in the distance is the greater Quartzsite area.

After finishing our hike, we returned to New Boomerville just in time for Happy Hour. Time to let the good times roll.