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Duners seek some Thanksgiving peace on Ogilby Road
Chris Bader wants everyone to stay far away from Ogilby Road.
"You can tell everybody that it's filled with drugs, illegal aliens and aliens from outer space." Bader said, as he and his friends set up camp off Ogilby on Thanksgiving day.
In reality, of course, there are no space invaders on Ogilby, off Interstate 8 near the Imperial Sand Dunes. In fact, it is one of the few peaceful spots left in that part of the dunes. It's only four miles removed from the main hub of campers but for savvy duners it's become an oasis of peace from the crowds, noise and crazy behavior that gathers there.
"We got so sick of the dust and sick of the people that are coming down and playing the music and driving at 3 a.m.," Bader said. "We camp out here to try and stay away from the crazy people."
Thanksgiving routinely draws more than 100,000 people to the Imperial Sand Dunes, according to officials from the Bureau of Land Management. But it was quiet Thursday morning for Bader and his friends as they got ready to feast in the desert. The turkeys were stuffed and ready to cook over the coals of Weber grills and the kitchens in their small circle of recreational vehicles were stocked with potatoes, stuffing, rolls and all the other holiday trimmings.
"We don't starve," said Earl Potts, another one of the Ogilby campers. "It's a regular turkey, full-on, Thanksgiving meal."
Potts said he's been camping in the dunes since the 1960s and has seen it grow more and more crowded every year. "When we first started there were no crowds," he said. "There'd be maybe 100 or 200 people out here at a time. We didn't have all the toys they have now ... We had our two kids and the German Shepard dog, and we would tow, in the Jeep, a little tent trailer."
Times have changed for Potts and his family. He and his daughter, Cindy Wenberg, were both out at Ogilby with fully-stocked RVs this year. But they've managed to preserve a quiet place in the desert and the family togetherness remains the same. Potts lives in Yuma and Wenberg and her family are in Temecula, Calif. Wenberg said camping out on Ogilby is where they can all meet for holidays and celebrations.
"We don't even see each other in the summer," Wenberg said. "This is the first time we've seen each other since Easter. ... This is the first time I've brought the turkey. My mom always brings the turkey."
The family and friends settled down for a reasonably tranquil Thanksgiving near, but not too close, to the dunes. And they hope Ogilby, and other out-of-the-way sites, will remain quiet.
"It's a lot quieter here at night, a lot less dusty ... It's nice when you keep it a secret," Bader said.
Sarah Reynolds can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6847.