Every year in January or February, we head for the rockhound’s paradise. Since the 1960s, the Arizona town of Quartzsite, 20 miles east of the Colorado River, sees its population swell from a few hundred to millions of visitors, many of which are snowbirds. The mild weather is a draw as well as the border to border flea market.

In the market for rocks? It’s a rockhound’s dream. Native American basketry, gems, rugs, minerals, fossils and cow skulls abound. You can walk around for hours. Sadly, the naked bookman of Oasis Books passed away last year, and it looks like the bookstore will soon be gone. We send our condolences to his wife. He was quite a character.


Although many opt to pull off into dirt fields and dry camp, others stay in campgrounds. We prefer to camp in Blythe, about 30 miles North, and enjoy The Cove Campground. The sites are on the river and amenities include free pancakes on Sunday morning, a pool and jacuzzi.

On Sunday we drove to the nearby Cibola Wildlife Preserve, located in the flood plain of the lower Colorado River, hoping to get a glimpse of the Sandhill Cranes. After a time at the excellent Visitor’s Center, we took the Canada Goose Drive which offers excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing. Millions of birds cover the area, and yes, we saw the cranes. Burrowing owls can be seen along the road.

Settled down for a picnic at the refuge, my phone beeped. Turning it on was a shock! Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. How could this be? So much life snuffed out in a minute. We sadly followed the unfolding news.

From Blythe we headed to Parker to make our annual donation to the Native Americans through the Blue Water Casino. There is a campground there but we opted to just park out in the surrounding hills and “rough it.”

Couldn’t resist a night at Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree, reminiscent of the days we took the kids there and tried to keep up with them as they trotted up rocks. Beautiful weather.


Drove through the park and headed for the Salton Sea but opted to go home because the winds were howling and dust flying.