Saturday, January 23, 2010

The weather in Quartzsite got worse; a lot worse, before it got better. I was trying to wade these puddles on my way to the big tent main event. It was then that I realized that my rubber boots had not made it onto the packing list for this trip!

Undaunted, I hopped and splashed through puddles and crawled over fences till I finally made it to the big tent. But something was wrong. Very wrong! I could see all the booths inside, but there were no people at all - and this was the middle of the afternoon.

In spite of having an umbrella, I was pretty much soaked by the time I made it back to the truck. It was then that I found out the tent the whole area had been evacuated because of the danger from the high winds!

I read in the paper that there was a Ham radio get-together, camped out near Mile marker 99 just south of town, so I headed out there to see what I could see. I got set up and parked, trying to shelter the 'fridge-side' of the camper that can be succeptible to taking on water when rain comes at you horizontally. I tuned in to the local 'ham' frequency to see what was happening.
Then the weather really turned ugly, and the hams reported a 'tornado watch' for the area to add to the 'flash flood' warning already in effect. The rain started to come down in buckets and the wind got really serious. Visibility was reduced to 100' or so and anything not tied down was leaving the county!
There was no way of going outside for a photo without a waterproof camera, but I took this shot through the side window of the camper. I fully expected to start hearing reports of flipped rigs in the area. Winds were so strong that water was blowing in the little drain holes at the bottom of the windows, which kept me busy mopping up.
I also had my radio scanner on and the local highway patrol and highway crews were run off their feet responding to downed power lines, flooded roads, and weather related car accidents.
The tornado allegedly touched down just to the west of us near Blythe, California where it broke off a lot of the Interstate signs, flipped some big rigs, and caused general mayhem.
Fortunately, the wind and rain calmed down overnight and the next morning campers were out trying to find their BBQ covers, chairs, and cutting away the remains of any awning that was not sufficiently tied down.
The coyotes chorus did a couple of numbers overnight to let us know they had survived; or perhaps in an attempt to locate any blown away kin?

In town the next morning, there was still lots of signs of the weather.And many of the vendor booths that were exposed to the wind were damaged or destroyed, though the big tent seemed to have survived just fine.I got in to the main even area early in the morning and was able to find parking on site, which was lucky because it filled up quickly and traffic was backed up and slow.But after a cool, damp start to the morning, the sun made an appearance, and the show was on!
Lots of fancy rigs around.

The big tent from a distance.
Inside were all the usual RV items for sale and tourism booths from all over - including Saskatchwewan.

Yukon and British Columbia.
And even Alberta had banners out in the parking lot.

I managed to resist buying any but the smallest of items, but made some good contacts on satellite internet dishes, etc.Having survived another visit to Quartzsite going full tilt, it was now time to hit the road west again - on the first reluctant move to get back to frozen Alberta!

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