Having crossed the middle of Washington from east to west, we traveled south to the Columbia River and crossed the state again from west to east. The road on the north side of the river is a narrow, two-lane road that adds time to travel, but offers so much in the way of beauty and interest. Along with sweeping views of the Columbia, we also passed through small and charming towns, cherry orchards, and vineyards. Roadside stands offered local produce, beckoning us to stop for peaches near where we camped at Maryhill State Park. It was a beautiful, park-like setting next to the river and after parking our rig, we sat on a picnic bench watching a windsurfer conquer the wind and surf for what I’m sure was a thrilling ride.
Nearby was Maryhill Stonehenge, a replica of the original in England, sitting high on a cliff overlooking the Columbia Gorge. Built by Sam Hill, a wealthy entrepreneur, it was dedicated in 1918 to people who died in World War I. Under the assumption that the original was used as a sacrificial site, this Stonehenge replica showed that humanity is still capable of being sacrificed to the god of war.
Having never visited the Stonehenge in England, it was exciting to walk among the massive stones and think about those ancients who, according to a modern theory, used it as a place of healing.
After our mad dash out of the Northwest to reach warm weather, we spent time in Golden Valley, Arizona with Thom’s sisters and then, taking just the Jeep, drove to San Marcos, California to visit my brother and family. The weather was perfect. I might even consider living there again if we could actually afford it, although Thom wouldn’t. We enjoyed a day at Safari Park (the former Wild Animal Park) east of Escondido, a walk on the beach, and a wonderful gathering of family to celebrate a seventh birthday and a new baby. What a treat!
From there, we hooked up the motorhome and visited friends in Prescott (pronounced preskitt) and Surprise, Arizona where the friends from whom we bought the motorhome are staying for several months in an RV park. We stayed a few miles away at Skyline Regional Park out of Buckeye where the quiet desert beauty was appealing. Even the many who parked in the day-use area to walk, run, or bike the trails didn’t bother us since, somehow, the noise didn’t carry. Our friends joined us one night for chili after we all returned from a visit to the science museum in Phoenix and again the next night when we sat around the campfire talking until the embers died.
Saying goodbye to our friends, we headed to Quartzite, a town barely 18 miles east of the Colorado on I-10. Just 4,000 people live there during the pizza-oven summers, but mid-winter, nearly one million snow bunnies descend on this desert town to enjoy the curious culture of retirees with their homes on wheels who have come to enjoy the warm winter days, associate with like-minded people, and check out the many vendors. Originally a water stop in the 1800s, Quartzite grew to a rather large community with a loyal gathering of desert rats. Among the list of things to do in Quartzite are such activities as:
Visiting Reader’s Oasis Books, a part museum/part bookstore establishment with tens of thousands of volumes to choose from, the owner known for wearing few pieces of clothing. I heard from an unofficial source, though, that he recently reached his three-score and ten.
Checking out Joanne’s Gum Gallery run by “a sweet woman who knows more about gum than most executives at Wrigley’s.” I’m told she’ll give you “the dime tour no matter when you’re passing through”.
Touring the converted school bus homes of modern-day hippies who have given them some whacky paint jobs.
Weird, right? Don’t bother to ask what we’re doing here.