So our time in Quartzsite Arizona has come to an end and a little uncertain on how to best summarize our time here….but we’ll give it a try! First, if you’ve never heard of Quartzite, you’re not alone. We had never heard of it until we started exploring the RV life. Then for awhile, that was all we heard about, so we determined we had to experience it for ourselves and it ultimately became one of those bucket list items that we had to do!!
If you’re not an RV’er, there is a perfectly good reason why you’ve never heard of Quartzsite. Quartzsite is a town of around 1800 people that basically is a truck stop along interstate 10. It’s about 20 miles or so from California and honestly, not much to the town….except….BLM land….lots of BLM land. And BLM land equals lots of RV’er….lots and lots of RV’ers. As a matter of fact, that population of 1800 swells to a couple hundred thousand during the winter months, in particular, the week of the big RV show.
There are four BLM long term visitor’s areas where you can boondock for $40 for two weeks or $180 for seven months, and for the fee you have access to a dump station and fresh water station along with trash dumpsters. The rest of the town is surrounded by other BLM land where you can camp for free for 14 days. There are also quite a few RV parks in town as well, however, we saw very few actual houses.
We opted to stay at LaPosa South Visitor’s area for access to some services…..and we had friends who had already set up camp in that area, so the decision was easy. Also, being our first trip to Quartzsite, seemed like “baby steps” were in order!!
We arrived a few days before the big RV show, but RV’s were streaming in. All kinds of RV’s. One of the things we found to be very interesting were the types of RV’s or structures people set up. From tents, to tiny houses, from boxes to boats….anything goes in the desert!! All part of the Quartzsite quirkiness.
Love it that people are just out there doing it however they want!!
I don't however, want to know what the white bucket is used for!!
Here's the winner for the most ingenious house in the desert!
Partitioning off your section with rocks is pretty popular too.
(Although, according to the "rules," not allowed!!
A whole compound including a main and guest house.
Looked like they were still in the process of building this tiny house.
It had a home gym in the back yard!!
The town is interesting as well. It’s sort of what you expect of a small town--a couple of small no-brand grocery stores, a grocery/hardware combo store (which I wouldn’t recommend for groceries), a stand alone hardware store, a couple of restaurants, gas stations, and miscellaneous shops, including a fairly famous bookstore (that you wouldn’t find in your typical small town….see the reason why below) oh, and of course a yacht club! Combine all of that with various flea/street market booths interspersed throughout the town and that pretty much sums up the Q for us.
The combo hardware/grocery
And some of the flea/street market vendors
Pretty sure you cand find almost anything in Quartzsite if you look hard enough!!
And this is your not-so-typical small town bookstore.
Paul Winer, owner, is sort of a legend in these parts....for, uh, his music!!
He's the world's only nudist boogie-woogie pianist (and bookstore owner!!)
The Quartzsite Yacht Club. One of a couple of restaurants in town and we are members...(thanks to Greg's parents for this great Christmas present!!).
Supposedly, you get reciprocity with other Yacht Clubs across the country
so we'll have to try it out and see if it works!!
According toTrip Advisor, this is the #1 thing to do in Quartzite--Hi Jolly's tomb.
Here's the quick story: In 1856, Jefferson Davis had a idea: transporting freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels.
He imported over 70 camels and a Syrian caretaker--Hadji Ali, later known to most as Hi Jolly.
Hi Jolly, and his camels made Quartzsite thier home!
The RV show (techincally, it's the Sports, Vacation and RV show) was held the week of January 16th, was sort of, no, it was a disappointment. Maybe we had too high of expectations, but it seemed more like a home show versus an RV show. There were some booths with RV products, campgrounds and workamping opportunities, but there seemed to be more non-RV specific products than products targeted for the RV population. For example, there were booths for makeup, foot relief, pain spray, jewelry cleaning, slicing, dicing, cooking, etc. Those booths probably outnumbered RV related booths 2 to 1, or at least it seemed that way. We had a specific list for things we wanted for the RV, so we were disappointed to only knock one thing off the list—a tire pressure monitoring system for our toad. (our coach has one, but our tow vehicle did not, and this is something, from safety standpoint, is a must have!).
While all TPM systems pretty much do the same thing—alert you when your tire pressure is low--we opted to purchase the TireTraker, for a couple of reasons. One, the individual tire monitors have batteries that you can replace (versus some, you have to replace the whole tire monitor) and they offered a lifetime warranty. Plus, the owners of the company (and developers of the product) were the ones who were selling it, so really felt they would stand behind the product. Other than that, and a sausage sandwich for Greg (not on the list), we didn’t get anything else at the show. The rest of our list, unfilled.
The Tire Traker TT-500. Will be installing it soon!
Probably the most popular place at the show--Beer Belly's Adult Daycare.
It's located in some tents outside the "big tent."
Greg had an accomplice this time. Greg AND Steve. Poor Flo !
So, aside from the RV show, and basically free (or low cost) camping, what’s the attraction to Quartzsite? We had several people tell us, if you don’t have a toy (ATV or jeep) there’s nothing to do. And, well, having a toy could definitely help fill the days, but we ultimately didn’t lack for things to do. I would imagine if we would camp here for the entire winter (and didn’t have work obligations), we would have needed some additional entertainment, but turns out, Quartzsite is quite the social place. And, well, that makes for some fun and busy times. Honestly, our social calendar hasn’t been this full since….jeez…North Carolina!!
We kept occupied with happy hours, a fish fry, a girls lunch at the Yacht Club (me, not Greg!), RV-dream’s potluck, random other potlucks, fires, watching football playoff games, outdoor movie watching, rookie geocacheing, bloggerfest meet and greet, and did I mention happy hours? We were not void of fun things to do, that’s for sure!!
Red and Tracy frying fish and making onion rings!
Ellen, Mario, Steve and Deb at the RV-Dreams potluck/reunion
The whole gang at the RV-Dreams potluck/reunion
Tracy hanging out at the campfire with her new poncho, after her trip to Mexico !!
Hat courtesy of Red!!
One of several campfires
Bloggerfest...lots of bloggers in Quartzsite!!
Geocaching and swag!!
Special thanks to Pam for showing me the ropes and for the ride in the Rhino!!
And amongst all of the social activities, we managed to squeeze a trip in to Lake Havasu City for a grooming appointment for Hobie. We also did laundry and worked while Hobie was getting beautified and then did a little exploring around Lake Havasu.
Our office in the Laundromat.
Lake Havusa City is a little more populated than Quartzsite, and overall seemed really nice. We'll have to come back and do a little more exploring in this area another time as an afternoon wasn't enough time!
The London Bridge in Lake Havasu City--a relocated 1830 bridge
that formerly spanned the River Thames in London,
until it was dismantled in 1967,
shipped to America and reassembled and completed in 1971.
Lake Havasu City Park
And of course, Hobie after his haircut. Still adorable!!
It was a nice change to spend the day in civilization….but …..we had a social engagement back in Q that we had to get back to. It was pizza and karaoke night at Silly Al’s.
Red and Pam dancing at karaoke; they danced better than most of the people sang!!
We also had a couple of field trips during our time in Q. Our first one was to the (Nellie E Saloon) Desert Bar, outside Parker. Parker is about an hour from Q and The Desert Bar is a testament to “build it and they will come.” And people come.
It’s located off a main highway and is about five miles or so of dirt road until you arrive at the bar….in the middle of nowhere; aka, The Desert Bar. This place is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6pm during the months of October through April. It was powered by solar (which of course Greg loved) and water is supplied by a well. They usually have bands playing and you can grab a nice lunch….but, cash only!! It’s definitely one of those places that you need to go to, at least once, but definitely too much of a haul for frequent visits.
The solar powered entrance to The Desert Bar
Proof that people will come. The parking lot!!
Our gang enjoying lunch!! Greg, Tracy, Deb and Steve
Every desert bar needs a church!?!
Great sign and old car in the parking lot!!
Our last Saturday in Q, we hit a couple of “touristy” things towards Yuma with our friend’s Lee and Trace. Our first stop was Castle Dome Mine Museum, which is a combination of an old mine, an old mining town, some original buildings (around 7), some reconstructed buildings and a huge collection of vintage items that date back to the mining days. There were stories about miners, miner’s families, etc. scattered throughout the various buildings that were pretty interesting. It was a unique place and not a bad way to spend a few hours.
Castle Dome City
One of the stores at Castle Dome
The Church at Castle Dome
Castle Dome City--The Museum buildings.
The story with this bathtub is that as the women traveled from mine to mine (mostly with their spouses) and they toted this tub with them. Think it traveled to 16 different mines.
Jealous!! If only I could figure out a way to carry a bathtub with us!!
They had a very cool vintage trailer in the '70's section.
So this guy is sitting on the toilet in the camper, behind a curtain.
Was unexpected and resulted in Tracy screaming,
which was funnier than the guy sitting on the toilet!!
Castle Dome Rock
The museum, like the bar, was about five miles off the beaten path of the main road. The road bordered Kofa Wildlife Refuge and Yuma Proving Ground, so there were patches of nature, combined with “caution, you may blow yourself up” signs. Needless to say, we stayed on the main road.
Signs and surveillance.....surrounded by a Wildlife Refuge. Hmmm.....
Next stop was Yuma Territorial Prison, which operated from 1876 to 1909 and was actually built by prisoners. It’s not bad enough to have to spend time in prison, but hey, while you’re at it, why don’t you build the tiny cell in the desert, which you’ll live in with five other like-minded individuals!! They take their prisons serious in Arizona!!
The prison was home to both men and women prisoners and they did a great job of highlighting the history and sharing stories of some of their more famous prisoners. Didn’t know what to expect and since it was sort of a last minute add on, we were glad we made the trek to do the tour. Highly recommend.
One of the famous female prisoners: Pearl Hart.
She committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies.
Greg going dark!
Pictures of the prisoner's cells; can you guess which one is the women's?
The Guard Tower
And as we wrapped up our time in Quartzsite, the winds arrived. Lots and lots of wind. We’ve weathered a few crazy thunderstorms in our coach, but this wind, well it was wicked! Some pretty intense wind and wind gusts, which made for a nice dust storm until it rained.
If you look close, you can see the mountains! Dust storm!!
After the rain, more wind. We ended up closing two of our slide outs to protect the slide toppers. Probably unnecessary, but felt a little safer with them in. And you know what stinks most about the wind? No happy hour or campfires. Barbaric!!
Well, that’s the best we could do to summarize this Quartzsite. Yep, it’s weird, it’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s a little bit of a throwback, but worth a stop if you’re in the area (and it’s not summer!!) We really had a great time hanging out with friends, meeting lots of new people and making some new friends in the process! Oh...and almost forgot; they have some of the best sunsets we've seen!!
No filters, just nature's paintbrush!!
This never gets old....beautiful, just beautiful!!
This circus is once again packing up and moving on to the next town—Picacho Arizona, home of Picacho Peak State Park. And for reference, Picacho is not pronounced like the Pokemon character; ask us how we know!!
And thanks for following along…in case you can’t wait for blog posts to see what we’re up to, feel free to follow us on Facebook (The Restless Youngs) as we’re going to do a better job of keeping that updated between blog posts!!
During our down time, we finally got the coach all vinyl'ed up. Front windshield and the door!