GRINDING HOLES AND PETROGLYPHS
BLYTHE INTAGLIOS, CA
Campground: Cattail Cove State Park, Lake Havasu Az. $26 a night, elect/water. Each site has an asphalt pad, and some have a tree but not much shade overall. The surrounding ground is all raked gravel. Boat dock and beach and some trails over and around the barren landscape overlooking the lake.
Campground: Kofa Mt RV Park, Quartzsite Az. $17 + tax Passport America, full hookups. This is one of the 70 in town RV parks. A nice neat square park with a few park models. Friendly staff and residences.
Campground: Cocopah Casino, Yuma Az. $5 for 3 nights. Dry camping. large spacious parking lot sites designated for campers. Within a couple miles of town and Wal-mart. I met some Rv'ers who are staying here for the winter... $50 a month. They say it's pretty windy and dusty though.
From 95 one winds their way down through a canyon to get to the small park. It was a nice place to stay for a couple of days. Another 30 miles and I was in Parker Az and then onto Quartzsite the snowbird Mecca of the west.
Quartzsite is a hot, dry ragged town where everything looks like it’s been dusted with sand since forever. During the winter (I’m visiting on the edge of the winter season) there are flea market type booths set up all throughout town. Much of the towns stores, if that’s what one can call them are makeshift structures with maybe a metal roof, screen fabric sides and tables and merchandise covered in a thin layer of dust. It’s not crowded yet, but the sleepy little town of less than 4.000 will grow by about 70,000 snowbirds within weeks. In it’s heyday they used to get over half a million snowbirds. Over 70 RV parks are in the town and thousands of acres of BLM land are available for long term dry camping in the winter. No one is around during the 110 degree summers. Two over the air tv stations are available, but they’re both Spanish. Guess one could learn Spanish if that’s all they had to watch.
And of course I had to visit the memorial to HI Jolly, Hadji Ali, a camel driver brought over from Syria to manage an experiment by the Confederate Army for moving supplies across the desert. The experiment was abandoned, Ali stayed and became a prospector. Locals liked him and eventually built a monument to honor him and the camels he cared for.
Ok, this was the highlight of my trip through the Quartzsite area. I drove over to Blythe Calif., about a 20 mile drive and then north on 95 for 15 more miles to see the Blythe Intaglios also referred to as geoglyphs. These are drawings that have been either created by lining up stones on the ground, scraping a shallow trench to create an outline or tamping the ground. The Blythe Intaglios were created by scraping the surface of the hard desert down to a lighter sand.
I believe the only other place on earth where these types of drawings have been found have been in Peru. The Intaglios were rediscovered in Blythe by a pilot flying over the area in 1931, George Palmer. Some are as large as 100 feet by 90 in size. Must have been quite the surprise seeing them for the first time.
A sign put up by the BLM marks the entrance. I drove through the now fenced in area, once open to all ATV’s, which have caused some damage to the sites. Driving along a rise over rough stone covered dirt tracks, I arrived at the first site. It was early morning and the desert was still chilly from the cool night air. A strong breeze was already picking up, meaning sand storms would follow shortly in the area. Walking across the stone and rough rock landscape brought to mind the desolate area these drawings were created in.
The images were not all that easy to discern my being at ground level and they being much easier to view from above. But just being on the site where they were created by an ancient Indian tribe, who knows, perhaps some only 500 years old, others could be thousands of years old. Hard to get a date on something carved out of the dry desert. The native Indians that inhabit the area today do not claim them and do not know who created them. So they could be very very old.
It got me to thinking about all the ways man tries to make sure he is remembered. Or the gods he is creating an image of, as many of these images are believed to be of one of their gods. How we are geared to purchase and own the land, for what 60 or 70 years and then we’re gone. And yet the land goes on, thousands of years to millions of years and our touch can only be so brief upon the land. Yet these Native Indians did create there geoglyphs and petroglyphs, many having survived thousands of years. And in that spirit, people have piled rocks on top of the fence posts kind of as a remembrance.... and so did I... wanting to be remembered, even if only for a moment in time.
This may not be for everyone, but it’s of interest to me and gets me hiking across barren land and exploring these remote out of the way places. Great way to get exercise without thinking about it.
Back in town, I had to go through some of the many flea market type vendors scattered around town. Many catering to the RV crowd of course. Purchased a few items along the way but mostly enjoyed talking to some of the vendors and customers. One gal noticed my Key West T-shirt I had on which always starts a conversation. She used to live in Fla. and traveled down to the keys and even lived there for a while. I asked how she ended up in Quartzsite and she said she had been abandoned here. Reminded me of the movie, Bagdad Café. I’m sure there was much more to the story but didn’t get to hear it as we bantered back and forth about our love of Fla. and the keys and what it was like to live in Quartzsite. You know, Quartzsite is a town of only about 4,000 folks with no good food stores or big box stores. So most go to Parker or beyond to do any shopping. And she described the dust storms and how everything gets covered in it. My friend Mary Lu used to live in southern Calif. In a place maybe like this. The shop owner described how TV’s can catch on fire what with all the sand and dust that get caught inside the TV. Never thought of that one…
At the Lacas Mexican Restaurant, the waitress, age about 70ish said she was glad to be working 6 days a week. One of her customers who was leaving the area exchanged addresses and phone numbers with the waitress, saying we all like family after a while aren’t we? She had just lost her husband 6 months ago and our waitress has a husband in the hospital. That’s life in a small town where the workers and customers are family and look out for each other. Even the clerk at the place I’m staying got a divorce recently and ended up in an old motorhome wondering what her next move would be.
It’s not only the places I visit, the sites and attractions, it’s the people that make the places real for me. They become a part of the fabric of my memories and the stories I share.
note: you'll always find more pictures on my PICASA web site.