The original plan for my first two days away from the Quartzsite area was to stay in Parker, AZ, at the Bluewater Casino. There’s overnight parking there, as well as a boat ramp and marina. But when I got to Parker on Thursday, I realized that it was the weekend of the big Parker 425 off-road race. I didn’t want to be anywhere near that crazy event so close to the weekend.
So I continued driving up Route 95 in the Arizona side of the river until I reached Buckskin Mountain state park. That’s where I got a campsite in the “cabana” area right on the river. The cabanas are cinderblock structures, open on front and back, with a picnic table inside and a grill outside. You back into a parking space in front of your cabana and use it as part of your site. It’s not perfect, but it does make a nice, easy place to hang out outdoors in the shade. Best of all, there’s a power outlet, so I can enjoy little luxuries like my microwave and don’t have to worry about running down the battery when I watch a DVD at night. And who could complain about a waterfront campsite?
On Friday morning, I took a short hike to a viewpoint overlooking the camp. That’s when I confirmed something I suspected the evening before: I’d been to this campground before. It had been about 10 years ago, when I was still married. My wasband had come with me to a two-day aerial photo gig for the Parker 425. I’d flown the helicopter while he’d driven out with my first camping trailer, a Starcraft tent camper hybrid. We spent the night at Buckskin and he’d complained — what else is new? — about all the retired guys who walked by and tried to chat him up. We’d walked up to that same viewpoint during our short stay. I know that if I looked hard enough in my archives, I’d find the photos I took there.
Although I’d intended on continuing along the 1-mile loop trail yesterday morning, a cool breeze started up while I was chatting with another camper at the viewpoint bench. I decided to go back to camp and do the longer hike when I was better prepared with water and a sweatshirt if I needed it.
Buckskin is a nice place to stay — if you like camping in campgrounds. There are scheduled activities, such as Friday night campfires, which I attended last night, and Saturday ranger-led hikes, which I’ll join today. There are free DVD rentals and a trading paperback library. There’s also a bookstore/gift shop. The Tuesday ice cream social, which I’ll miss, is probably a real hit with the retirees who stay here. And while it’s a shame the marina store is closed, being the only one using the dock for my boat is kind of nice.