Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Big cats on the Colorado -- not far from Quartzsite

Snowbirds who make Quartzsite their destination have plenty of interests. From rock hunting to quading across the desert, to strolling through the endless rows of vendor tents. And then there's always fishing. No, there aren't a lot of ponds to dunk your line in, but there is, not far to the west, that big hole for bass and catfish anglers, the Colorado River.

A couple of years ago we got a phone call from a fellow who was tiring of the cold winters and "lake effect" snows of Michigan. Desirous of trading in his snow blower for a fifth wheel, he made some serious inquiries about the climate, and before you know it, Ken and his wife showed up with a big fifth wheel and a hearty appetite for desert living. He also brought his fishing poles, and not long after, had a little fishing boat go along with the tackle.

Ken settled on down in the little town across the river, Blythe, California. None of us locals had a lot of experience with angling. Sure, some would go out occasionally a drop a line in an irrigation canal, or stick our toes into the river water, but Ken was serious about his business. Driving around the area, his eyes constantly scanning for "likely spots," it wasn't long before Ken settled into the life of the inveterate piscatorian. So it didn't surprise us in the least when one day, he brought home the big one.

The "masculine" side of our family well remembers the thrill when hooking and landing a seven pound cat fish. But Ken—well—with all modesty on his part, seven pounds would be fine, but something a little bigger would even be better. We can only imagine the look on his wife's face when he staggered up to the door with a fifty-pound catfish. Aside from, the "hows" and the "wheres," the "whats" also came to her lips. What do you do with a whopper like that?

The answer to that question came in the form of a very big fish fry, where about 40 of us descended and ate catfish – and those us from the southwest – some hushpuppies, too. One of our hosts cooked up a big turkey for those whose heart was to faint to taste something of a "mud eater like that thing." In reality, Ken's big fish turned out to be quite tasty, not anything like you might imagine.

Truth be told though, there are more "cats" on the Colorado that just catfish.

A few weeks ago, Ken was out stalking more of those scaled critters when he had a run in with another critter he hardly expected to see. Dunking his line on the California side of the Colorado as darkness began to settle in, he was startled to see something join him that had come in from the opposite shore: A bobcat.

Now Lynx rufus is not a stranger to the area – winter visitors occasionally report sightings of these cats in the desert around Quartzsite, but they tend to be rather retiring creatures. Ken watched with fascination as the cat shook out his fur and eyeballed him for a bit – long enough for Ken to take a few pictures.

Big cats and big fish.  Who knows, maybe if you run down the river, you might just run into one or the other yourself. But one of each for the same soul? Almost too good to be true.

If you have a hankering for fishing, out-of-state residents can pick up a fishing license for use in Arizona waters for $55 for the year, or $20 per day. Licenses can be purchased and printed from the state's web site.

Fish in California, an annual license is $126; however short term licenses for out-of-staters are a bit less: A one-day license is $15.12; $23.50 buys two days; or lay out $47.01 for a ten-day license. Again, these can be purchased on-line.

Finally, if you've ever wondered why the bobcat looks as he does, the Shawnee people have an explanation. Bobcat was out hunting Rabbit one day, and had almost got him in his claws when Rabbit escaped into a hollow tree. Rabbit taunted Bobcat, telling him he could stay there forever, that he, Rabbit, would never come out.

Bobcat wisely replied that Rabbit would eventually have to come out to eat. So Rabbit, recognizing the truth of it, suggested that Bobcat build a fire so that when he came out from the tree, Bobcat would be ready to cook his dinner. This seemed reasonable, so Bobcat lit a large fire, whereupon, Rabbit jumped out of the tree and into the midst of the hot coals, spreading them all over the duped cat's fur. Bobcat escaped death by jumping into the nearby river, but to this day, his coat shows the dark brown spots where the coals landed.

photos courtesy Ken Stutzman, all rights reserved

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Quartzsite ignites with propane wars

Snowbirds come to Quartzsite for plenty of good reasons: Desert sunsets. Scores of vendors with products to sell. Quiet times around the campfire with good friends. Warm weather. Warm weather? If you've looked at the weather map, you'll notice the "warmer than average temperatures" are giving way to some definitely chilly nights. Yep, you'll soon see Paul the "Naked Bookseller" put on his coat – when that happens, you KNOW it's cold.

Maybe it's a good thing that Quartzsite is in the middle of a propane war. Yep, the chief heating fuel of RVers is on sale across the great Quartzsite metropolis. Here are the prices (and a few tips) from around QZ as of December 10.

$2.15 Patties RV Park on the B-10 (Main Street) across from the Family Dollar. Patties offers free pickup and delivery, which is a big draw, especially for those with those honkin' big 20 gallon tanks. Trouble is, they won't take your credit card.

$2.15 Herb's Hardware Store on Highway 95 (Central Boulevard). When there's a line-up at other LP purveyors, you'll often find a quick fill-up at Herbs, and it's handy when you're picking up those repair needs. Many don't know about Herb's LP, because the tank is stashed away out of sight of the main road. A bonus: Herb's takes credit cards.

$2.15 RV Pit Stop on Highway 95 (Central Boulevard). The Pit Stop also offers a dump station, and you can fill up with either RO water or city water. Sorry, no credit cards here, but if you need custom-made LP hoses and LP fittings, you'll find them here.

$2.15 Texaco Quick Check, Highway 95 and the B-10. Credit cards OK here.

$2.09 Fill-R-Up, on Highway 95, just north of the Texaco Quick Check. These fellows moved in last year and are giving most of the LP retailers a run for their money. Making them attractive is their acceptance of credit cards – sorry, checks only drawn on the local bank. Fill-R-Up also offers free pickup and delivery for the same low price. Laundromat on the property.

$2.05 Mobile Station, far east end of the B-10 (Main Street). Yep, at present the low-price leader, but hang on to your hats, prices have been flipping around like a landed fish. Mobile will take your credit card; our big beef: You'll probably have to send somebody inside to fetch the LP attendant, then run inside again to pay. Kind of a hassle, but if you're watching your pennies . . .

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