A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.





Sunday, December 2, 2007



A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival.
Dec. 1 - 2
For a place I much maligned, we spent more time around Quartzsite than anywhere else up to this point. Besides mini-marts at a couple service stations, there are only two small grocery stores. One, the Road Runner, plays a running loop of great political speeches of the 20th century as atmosphere for their shoppers. “Ask not what you can do for your country…” well, it was better than Christmas music. I renamed it the “Brown Meat Store” after viewing the selections available in the meat display case. I bought a t-bone at a “reduced for quick sale” price. The other grocery (the name escapes me) was so cold inside that I doubt their meat display case was even plugged in. In fact, the handwritten sign on the glass front said to walk around back and serve yourself. I tried not to think of the hands that fondled the meat. This store too doubled as a hardware store. Picture walking into ACE Hardware (and I swear, the display racks for nuts and bolts, plastic fittings, plumbing needs, etc., are identical to those in ACE) and picking up a loaf of bread next to paint brushes and rollers. Unlike the first store, his magazine rack had a wide array of this month’s nudie magazines to select from, all positioned at eye level and lower. It’s okay, there are no children in Quartzsite; they were banned long ago.

My undoing was the day I stopped at the post office to mail some post cards. I got back into the Little Box to leave, sat there looking out the windshield at this tent structure across the street with a sign WYO DISCOUNT GROCERY. Having nothing else pressing for the day, I thought I would check it out. The place was chocker-block full of grocery items most all at $1 or less. There were bins full of dented canned foods at 25 cents each. Now they had me. Happier than a rejected hog at a meat packing plant, I went shopping. Minute Maid orange juice in the 10 pack cartons, $1.49, lemonade 10 pack for $1.00. Large boxes of crackers of all varieties, $1 or less. They had Biscotti sticks, the brand you get from Costco, in boxes for $1.00. Then there were the gourmet items: Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro Gourmet Mediterranean olives, $1.49. Garlic and jalapeƱo double stuffed green olives, $2.49. And for you Starbucks lovers, bags of coffee, $4.00. With these items and more, plus an armload full of dented Chef Boyardee cans, I was a happy shopper. I would have purchased more but had already hit a grocery store a few days earlier and groaned at the fact that I paid over twice as much for a box Barilla spaghetti than I could have bought here. Then across the street was another Dented Can Store! I went in there too just to marvel at the prices. Perhaps I could come to like Quartzsite after all, a thought that somewhat frightened me, so I felt we best move on before I found myself walking into some real estate offices.

Just a side note before we move on. The Hi Jolly BLM camp area I stayed at the most is 3 miles north of town. Four days in a row as I drove into town I saw the very same hitchhiker in the very same spot, standing there dejectedly with all his world possessions by his side in two bags. Four days! This is not knowing if he even had logged in some days there before I moved up to the north end. Lastly, I removed Quartzsite from my dead zone list. I found Internet hook-up at the Spilt Rail RV Park nearby. Thanks Mr. Cooper, whoever you are.

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