A couple of years ago our friend Sandra’s father told us about Quartzsite. Rocks and minerals galore, really large area, probably the biggest rock show in the world. In between then and last year we talked about going, but the timing wasn’t right for us to drive to AZ.
Politically it was going to be hard to financially support the state where Tucson USD has banned Mexican American Studies. When you begin to talk about banning books, you are talking hard core censorship. Banned from the program are works by Rodolfo Acuña, Luis Alberto Urrea, Sandra Cisneros, and that radical – William Shakespeare.
How to enjoy the experience and still not offer a lot of financial support? Well, we gassed up the car in CA, stayed across the border and ate most of our meals in Blythe, CA. The money that was spent in Quartzsite went directly to the vendors. It turns out the vendors come from all over the world. While we were there I met and talked with folks from at least 10 differenet U.S. states. Snowbirds abounded – the town swells from about 3,000 people to one million on a really busy day.
There were over 500 vendors: some with rows and rows of minerals in what looked like storefronts. The beads twinkled and beckoned. I know they didn’t call out my name – they didn’t need to do thats. I love a good twinkle and a gem or mineral that is a might one of a kind has me hooked. Add that the stones were at a super discount and you can know that I went through mild withdrawal about half the time we were there.
There were also swap meet like areas where you could find everything from car seat covers to petrified wood to gorgeous freshly painted rock saws to handcrafted gnomes from Peru to lamp sconces from Morocco.
Across the highway was the largest swap meet I’d ever seen. Cast iron pots and pans, window frames, S & H Green Stamp books, Depression Era glassware, all sorts of kitsch and kin.
And then there was the Quartzsite Mineral Museum.
I think using the word museum was being generous. There is no way I thought – “Oh, this is just like the Museo Nacional de Antropologia de Mexico, the Palazzo Vecchio or the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles”.
There were six exhibits contained in an unlit trailer, but boy were they noteworthy.
It only took us a couple of days to get the lay of the land. I think we may go back next winter. I bet we’ll be staying in Blythe.