Shortly after New Year’s Eve a few of us headed east in search of a better Internet connection and ended up in Winterhaven, California. Located in the very southeast corner of the state just outside of Yuma, Arizona, this was a perfect location to stay for two weeks and practice my slowing down.
The desert southwest has thousands of acres of public land, which is one of the reasons why it is so enticing to winter visitors who flock to the area in the tens of thousands, bringing their RVs to stay for months. Much of this public land is available for camping (normally a 14 day limit before you have to move to another area), as was the case with the “little” piece of BLM land that we called home.
American Girl Mine Road is a wide-open chunk of public land that sits at the base of the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, where gold was discovered a long time ago. Approximately a dozen rigs ended up at American Girl, many of which spent New Year’s over in Anza, with a few newcomers in the mix. We were able to spread out over a wide area, giving each other space and privacy, but still being able to get together and socialize. Pretty much the perfect setup!
It costs zero to stay at American Girl, but of course there are no amenities. Water had to be brought in and garbage had to be taken out, all on a fairly regular basis. Fortunately we all liked each other, so someone with one of the big heavy duty trucks would volunteer to make a garbage and/or water run so nobody had to do it on their own, unless they wanted to. It’s amazing how these little desert communities pop up and we take care of each other.
Socializing was a big part of each evening during my two week stay. Happy Hour took place almost every day just after 4pm with one rig being the focal point. Eventually Brandon and Kerensa’s tent was used, allowing us to huddle inside with a propane heater cranking during the cold desert nights. Yeah, it was rough!
I was also fortunate enough to be invited to my good friends Brian and Leigh’s Airstream a couple of times for dinner and drinks. Hell, I even had them over to host my first ever solo dinner party, which actually went off without a hitch.
Speaking of which, apparently I am becoming Mr. Party Host as I had Happy Hour at my place a couple of nights and also hosted game night once. Yeah, I’m worn out and ready to have some down time! 😉
Yuma, Arizona was the closest major town to American Girl even though it was a state over. It only took 15-20 minutes to drive there and was where we grocery shopped and went for entertainment. If you can be entertained in Yuma.
One evening the group of us went for street tacos and bowling. Another night we hit up the one and only brewery in town (meh). Side note: I have never travelled on a more heavily patrolled section of Interstate. You would not believe the number of CHP vehicles along this stretch. I imagine it has something to do with the Mexican border that is within spitting distance. Or not.
Gold Mining Past
There were plenty of hiking opportunities right in my backyard, so I spent some time exploring the area. As this was the site of an old mining operation, there is plenty of evidence of gold miners, including more mine shafts than you can shake a stick at. There actually is a small scale operation today, but nothing like back in the heyday.
Just up the road in another part of the Cargo Muchacho Mountains is the Tumco Historic Townsite which was where a gold mining operation was based from the late 1800’s to the early 1940’s. Not much is left now except for holes in the ground, lots of rusted steel cans, the remains of the cyanide tanks, and other assorted man-made objects littering the area.