Contact | About | Blog | Boondockers

The Blythe Intaglios:
A Lesson in Perspective

Search This Website

The Blythe Intaglios, just north of Blythe, California, are ground drawings – figures pecked into the desert varnish. Of more than 300 such sites, these are the most-known examples in all the southwest. They include six giant figures that are best viewed from the air; their existence was first discovered by a pilot flying over the area. Considering they were drawn by natives many years before man took to the air, their origin and purpose remain a curious mystery.

One of the neat things about a mystery, I think, is permission to develop your own "undisputed" theory. As you may have guessed, I have one...

Blythe Intaglios

There are six intaglios here on BLM land.

I believe these drawings were created to signal gratitude and respect to "The Great Creator". Life in the desert requires cooperation from the sun, moon, stars, rain, wind - all elements ruled by a creator who, of course, must reside somewhere high up in the sky to be able to control the weather. If you decided to send him/her a message, wouldn't it make sense to write it big enough that he/she might be able to see it from way up there?

Duh....mystery solved! These natives recognized that their gods might see things from a different perspective than us. Perhaps all deities do.

Blyhe Intaglios

All six intaglios are protected by fences. Four of them are marked and easy-to-reach.

Blyhe Intaglios

Two others are unmarked and require a longer hike. We searched and found them, too.

Speaking of Different Perspectives...

We're often caught between two camps on our RVing adventures: solitary boondocking and social, interactive time. We wouldn't want one or the other all of the time. I know everyone has their own perspective and preference.

This became very apparent this week. After so much social time in Quartzsite, we shifted location to a lesser-known boondocking site near Parker, AZ. There were approximately 20 RVs spread at a respectful distance from each other over three miles of a desert road. I hope we weren’t considered rude, but we didn't introduce ourselves to any neighbours. We enjoyed three peaceful nights, daily walks down the road that went on much farther than we could explore on foot, and a long cross-country hike. The desert-terrain is so friendly here that no trail is necessary; just pick a direction or destination and head towards it.

Hiking near Parker, AZ

Intermittent rain clouds added interest to our photos

By day four, real life's chores beckoned us back to reality and we made our way to La Pas County Park Campground in Parker where we knew friends from Ontario were camped. It was a great visit and they are certainly in a lovely campground on the Colorado River. We stayed two nights here in dry camping at a cost of $16.00 nightly but it included free showers, RV dump and wi-fi access, plus an invitation to join in Pickle Ball and other park activities. We felt immediately immersed in the community life that we know we miss out on by moving our location every few days.

La Paz County park

The La Paz County Park Campground

We were invited by our friends to join four other couples for a birthday celebration at a nearby bar. A great waterfront location, live band, dancing, cheap ($1.50) beers, and great company. Of course, we're in!

Sundance Saloon

The large dancehall-bar reopened recently after being closed more than 10 years.

Randy borrowed a ladder (another advantage of community living) to do some RV maintenance. This week's rain had reminded us of a common problem with older Roadtreks: the skylights require resealing every few years.

RV maintenance jog

The next day, Randy and the boys went back to the saloon to watch the Superbowl while the girls hung out to enjoy a campfire and the incredible sunset over the river.

Sunset at La Paz County Park

All these couples travel in much larger rigs than us. Of course! And some commented they could not imagine traveling like we do, in such a small camper. We think it's fine but then, we've never had anything else. We enjoyed tent camping for years prior to RVing so, from our perspective, even a small RV was a big step up from setting up and sleeping in a tent. Some of them may never have enjoyed (or even tried) tent camping. That's okay. Different strokes for different folks.

Blythe Intaglios boondocking

All alone in our boondocking site at the Blythe Intaglios

I don't want you to think they were judging us in a poor light. In fact, we find RVers to be great at not discriminating. We're all travelers on the same road and each of us has found our own way to get here. Friendships among RVers are easy to establish and without judgment. Size, age, and value of our rigs or our (pre-retirement) occupations are rarely part of the conversation. Where we're from, where we've been, and where we're heading next carry much more weight. When we choose not to meet our neighbors, we're missing out on an opportunity to hear their story.

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

This thought brings me back to fifteen years ago when, just before we left for our first trip - a year on the road - it seemed like a big enough deal that my extended family threw us a farewell party. My brother-in-law, Dan, showed up in a salmon-colour suit and tie. (It's very out-of-character for him to dress up at any time!) When asked, he said it was a reminder that we were bound to meet many different people on our travels and not to judge any book by its cover.

Dan's words have come to mind with every trip since then, whether we're meeting local people, fellow RVers, or homeless folks camped beside us on public land. Different is just different, not bad or good; everyone has a preference, a reason, and a story. Appearances often mean nothing; it's the stories beind them that are important.

I strive to remain conscious of this, picture myself in other people's shoes, to understand and appreciate their story, their choices, values, and beliefs.

Just like at the Blythe Intaglios, this often requires time, distance, and some imagination.

Days On The Road at time of writing: 24
Camping Costs To Date: $57.00

Click here to post a comment.

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Previous comments about this page

Click below to see comments from other visitors to this page...

Different perspectives 
The natives may well have had a different perspective on the glyphs they created. Your description is a plausible one. Likewise, different ways to view …

love this post 
So true! We've had the chance to meet wonderful people from all parts of the country, all with interesting stories of how they can to be traveling and …

Click here to write your own.

Return from Blythe Intaglios
to Frugal-RV-Travel Home Page

Copyright© 2014
All tips and advice on this web site are purely the personal opinion of the author who assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting from following said advice.