WINTER IN “Q”
This little town, located at the crossroads of I-10 and AZ Hwy. 95, stretches between Mile Markers 15-19 east of the California/Arizona state line.
The white roofs of RVs dot the desert landscape in all directions around Quartzsite.
In the summer the temperatures in Quartzsite are in 100-120 degree range and the full-time population is somewhere about 3,000+ folks. But, come November, more than a million snowbirds from Canada and northern and western states migrate to the “warmth” of the desert. It is commonly reported that in January there can be nearly 100,000+ RVs spread out in the 84 RV parks and dry camping (boondocking) in free Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plots that become little cities all their own. [See my previous blog: “Busy, Busy Boomerville”.]
This is a cover photo when National Geographic Magazine profiled Quartzsite.
So, what are the big attractions: flea markets, swap meets, rock and gem dealers, and, of course, vendors of RV sales and accessories. “The Big Tent” (now all white instead of the red & white stripes in the above photo) is a big draw the last two weeks in January. It used to feature more RV-related products, but now looks more like any commercial tent at any county fair, USA. We made one loop through all the vendor booths and didn’t return for any items we couldn’t live without.
I did manage to buy a new sun protection hat and replaced my worn-out fanny pack, but that was about all. Luke didn’t find much at the Big Tent, but did find a new 50-to-30 amp adaptor at another popular shopping venue: The Gambler’s.
CAMELS IN Q
Quartzsite’s history dates back to the mid-1800s and is most notably known for efforts to use CAMELS as pack animals by the U.S. Calvary. You can read more about some of the more quirky history of Quartzsite here.
One of the more colorful current characters in Q is Paul Winer, owner of the Readers Oasis Bookstore. Few people know his real name, but everyone knows “The Naked Bookstore Guy”. You can see more of Paul here. While we didn’t attend, Paul is also a fully-clothed concert pianist and we heard he had a great concert last week. Tickets sell out fast when his concerts are announced.
LOVE IT OR HATE IT?
We describe Q as a place where people with half-million dollar motorhomes go looking for 25 cent bargains in run-down flea markets. Of course, not all RVs in the desert are in that price range, nor are all “bargains” worth what they are touted to be. There are plenty of folks in old, broken-down RVs, assorted RV-based drug labs, and generally down-and-out who live off the grid around Quartzsite. But Q certainly has a wide spectrum of people-watching that makes our time in the desert interesting.
Quartzsite is a “mecca” for RVers to experience just once and then to decide for themselves. This January we spent two weeks at the far end of the BLM free-14 day area known as “Boomerville” then moved in closer to Scaddan Wash, another BLM area, for the Geocachers Rally for another week. The weather during our stay was almost perfect! We had plenty of days in the 70s, blue skies, and mild nights. We only had two days at the end of our caching rally that turned windy and cool. More on that later…
NEXT: GEOCACHING RALLY IN Q 2014