Monday, January 26, 2009

Celia's Rainbow Garden in Quartzsite, Arizona

Barrett's Miniature Village in Quartzsite, AZ

People do all kinds of interesting things with rocks. You especially notice this in Quartzsite, Arizona – a place world famous for its shows specializing in rocks, minerals, and gems. Most of what visitors see comes and goes with each of the winter shows. There is, however, an interesting and permanent display at the Tyson’s Wells Stage Station Museum.

A fellow by the name of Walter Barrett, a long time resident of Quartzsite, spent eight years building stone house. Some were replicas from his past including his birthplace. He constructed all to scale castle, lighthouse, rustic homes, ranches and more. After his death, his children donated to the structures to the Quartzsite Historical Society. Barrett’s Miniature Village is available for all to enjoy free of charge.

January 20, 2009

Barrett’s Miniature Village at

Tyson’s Wells Stage Station Museum

Quartzsite, Arizona

Desert Gardens 9th Annual International Gem, Mineral, & Jewelry Show

They come everywhere – Utah, Colorado, New York, Mexico, Afghanistan, Japan, Pakistan, Australia, and Morocco. They live in RVs, van conversions, truck campers, and tents. Some have connections to import the rocks, gems, fossils, and beads; others have rights to mine on private land or gather unearthed pieces in commercial quarries. They sell to whole sellers, artisans, collectors, and people struck by something they just want to have as their own. All have gathered in Quartzsite, Arizona – a desert town of buyers and sellers.

“What’s a dinosaur coprolite?” Herb and Earline Aguayo gave me a moment to think about this. “It’s not fossilized dinosaur poop, is it?” I asked hesitantly. He flashed me a big grin. Disbelieving, I stared at the matching book ends cut from one big lump of rock then polished to show beautiful marbling and color patterns. These bookends were a remnant of a dinosaur’s feeding preferences when it lived millions of years ago in Utah. Surprising!

The coprolite was my most startling discovery at the Desert Gardens 9th Annual International Gem, Mineral & Jewelry . The lapis – a semi-precious stone of intense blue color - was the most beautiful discovery. Lapis has been mined in Afghanistan for 6,500 years. Jewelry made from lapis traces back to ancient Egypt and remains popular today. Habib from Global Gems indulged me with a small unpolished piece of lapis; and after some coaxing, he stood in the sunlight with one of the larger polished stones.

I was also taken by the specimens of stalagmites and stalagmites. Accustomed to seeing them in caves, I inquired about these formations protected by law in the US and Mexico. I learned from Roberto that his collection came from China where the laws are not stringent. He explained that many of his pieces will come to decorate hotel lobbies and homes of millionaires. Although I’d love to have such a remarkable natural sculpture, I settled for a photo keepsake instead.

This particular show lasts two months. In 2009, the dates are January 1 – February 28. Bring a hat and some bottled water. Then go and enjoy the show!

January 24, 2009

Desert Gardens Annual International

Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show

I-10 Exit 17, then East on Frontage Road,

Quartzsite, AZ

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's Reason to Celebrate: Private Motor Coach, Inc. Has a 10 Year Anniversary

“Looking back 10 years, I remember promising to give each traveler aboard our coach a life-long memorable travel experience,” says Ed Lonsbary, the President and Founder of Private Motor Coach, Inc. (PMC). On January 25th, Lonsbary celebrates the tenth anniversary of operating Private Motor Coach, Inc.

“Our ten years in business proves that we accomplished this goal and succeeded in providing an alternative way to travel that meets the unique needs of travelers,” reflects Lonsbary. “I am still very proud of the honor given to me in 2001. After only two years in business, the United Motorcoach Association awarded PMC the 2001Vision Award for innovative travel. I plan to uphold this recognition forever.” Added Lonsbary, “Private Motor Coach, Inc. has earned a highly regarded reputation and will continue operations as a provider of quality private travel that is safe, convenient, and worry-free “Anywhere-Anytime” in the USA, Canada, Central and South America.”

Leading up to the occasion of this ten year anniversary, Ed Lonsbary and his wife Patty took an unprecedented trip. Starting in April 2008, they left a winter haven in Pharr, Texas and began a 10,000 Mile Grand Tour of the USA and Canada. The purpose of the tour was to create exposure for the company, build the PMC brand of private travel, and explore possible destinations for future trip bookings. Their journey took them along coastal Texas, into the bayous of Louisiana, north to Ontario’s 1,000 Islands, cross-country to Banff National Park and Vancouver Island, and then south through Washington to a scenic coastal drive along Highway 101 of the Oregon coast. The Tour ended September 2008 in Florence, Oregon. The entire trip is chronicled in a blog “Did Someone Say RV Road Trip?” . Patty Lonsbary plans to release their story of the 10,000 Mile Grand Tour in a book late in 2009.

Although the 10,000 Mile Grand Tour was without customers onboard, Lonsbary previously completed more than 50 trips and drove over 165,000 miles throughout the US and Canada with travelers numbering as few as one or as many as eight aboard. Some trips were as short just one day while others went on for up to six weeks.

Canadian-born Lonsbary began sharing his passion for wanderlust since January 25, 1999 when at age 51 he left a 26-year corporate career and became the first to offer the unique experience of freedom on the road in a luxury motorhome/bus conversion. He launched Private Motor Coach, Inc. from the basement of his North Park home in Gibsonia near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2001, he moved the operation to Whitehouse near Dallas, Texas. In April 2007, he began living in the coach fulltime operating as an Internet based company through the website

That same year, Lonsbary replaced his original coach, a MCI-9 called “Patty’s Charm” with an upgraded Prevost XL motorcoach/bus conversion called “Dolly’s Pride.” As with the first coach, the Prevost has all the amenities of a house-on-wheels: living room, kitchen, dinette, full bathroom with shower, queen-sized bedroom, and a large storage bay for bicycles, luggage, sports equipment or whatever needs to go along on a trip, including wheelchairs. Lonsbary also tows a Toyota Corolla behind the coach for side trips.

“This is safe, reliable and comfortable escorted, private travel,” explains Lonsbary. “A person does not have to be rock star to travel like one. Everyone feels like a VIP when they ride with me. My coach becomes their temporary home while on the road; and, as an escort, I take care of them.”

Lonsbary says his entrepreneurial spirit is stronger than ever with PMC reaching this momentous decade of service. He is also building a new entrepreneurial venture with his wife Patty called Global Tourism Solutions, Inc. (GTS), a company offering tourism management consulting services and destination writing.

“I want to keep building and growing within the travel industry,” says Lonsbary. “Managing and operating PMC has given me tremendous depth and insight into people’s travel expectations. I am an expert at looking beyond the traditional travel services. That is why PMC reached a ten year anniversary and why GTS will be an extension of this endeavor.”

Tirelessly, Lonsbary plans to continue inspiring wanderlust by offering escorted trips. He explained, “Private Motor Coach will include more than just North America. I am ready to take people to Central American and South America.”