Reynold Brix, co-manager along with his wife, Karen, of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management campground at the hot springs east of Holtville, shows off some of his hand-made wood sculptures. | William Roller photo
HOLTVILLE — A Midwest transplant who now manages the camping area at the hot springs east of Holtville came from a far different background and admits even he was surprised by the transformation.
Brix spent 28 years in the coating department of International Paper Company in
St. Paul, Minn. The job involved applying a high-gloss coat on paper stock for
a variety of paper products, primarily magazine pages such as those used by
National Geographic, he explained.
we (with wife Karen) went into the Bureau of Land Management stewardship ..
like an idiot,” Brix said sarcastically during a Feb. 14 interview.
“But it can be a very nice job, depending on the neighbors.”
Pursuit of Pastime
springs are a popular gathering area for snowbirds, winter visitors from the
northern U.S. and Canada. Many there practice hobbies and one even started a
garden in a converted 55-gallon metal drum growing tomatoes, lettuce, peas and
pursuit is a bit more artistic.
can’t do nothing, can’t sit there and do nothing. I like woodcarving. I just
got this done so I can get around. I just had hip surgery,” he said
showing off a slightly curved walking stick almost as large as a shepherd’s
been woodcarving for 48 years, he explained as he handed over his business
card. It reads, “Fantasy Dreamscapes, Carving Instructor and Wood Carvings for
Sale.” It is from his former woodshop in Minnesota.
showed off a tall intricate sculpture similar to a stone frieze, the decorative
band on an outside wall or column on classical Greek or Roman buildings. The sculpture
is fashioned from basswood. He also had a series of small houses made of cottonwood.
done a lot of carving, flowers, and I like artifacts from the 17th Century,”
journey to the Holtville area began after he retired from the paper plant and
Karen closed her business, a men’s tailoring shop.
she’s the mayor,” Brix joked about the hierarchy in their ‘town.’
“I’m the fire and police chief. But we don’t have to pay for our BLM plot.
Our RV is 40 feet long and it’s eight feet wide. We don’t need to pay the electrical
bill. We’re hooked up to the county grid, the only ones here (that are).”
arriving at the hot springs, Reynold and Karen managed the Tamarisk Mobile Home
Park in Palo Verde in far northwestern Imperial County.
The hot springs
averages 80 RVs between December and February. Some guests come from as far
away as Vermont, New York and Connecticut but also the Midwest, noted Karen.
Overall, about 40 percent are Canadian and the rest American.
are retirees,” said Karen. “But we do have some home-schooled
families. Some are working right now, a welder. One year we had a field worker
who was here for two seasons. We’ve been here only five years.”
BLM changed the rules last year and mangers can now serve only three years in
one location. So the Brixes will need to move to another site in the fall. BLM
has several openings and they get to decide whether to take it or not.
been with the BLM 15 years,” said Brix. “I don’t want to go and our
people don’t want to see us go either.”
On the same
day Brix was interviewed a fire broke out in an RV in the camping area.
took the (Holtville) fire chief (Alex Silva) down there to the burning RV,” he
said. “At first flames were coming out of the roof and then the whole RV
caught fire, but they couldn’t save it. It was just the one RV and some brush
What is sad
about the fire, explained Brix, is that even if the fire department was located
across the street, it might not have made a difference because RVs burn so
fast. This is due to the materials from which they are manufactured.