002: Quartzsite, AZ… A culture shock that’s good for the soul

Way back when we were planning our ‘big adventure’, people often inquired about our itinerary — to which we usually replied by pointing our index due South . But there is one place we knew for sure we wanted to hit…. Quartzsite, AZ.

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First, in case you wonder where the heck is Quartzsite (as I did a few months ago) a bit of geography and history. Q (as it’s referred by locals and RVers alike) is located off Highway 10, about 17 miles (27 km) from the California-Arizona line and 125 miles (200 km) east of Phoenix.  It has an official population of 3,693 (2017) that plays host to several hundred thousand visitors, from January to March every year. Mostly snowbirds from all over North America.

Warm weather, great desert hiking, guaranteed superb sunsets, dark skies for star gazing, gems & minerals on display everywhere (like at the Pow Wow Gem & Mineral Show) and RV sighting & shopping–the very huge Quartzsite RV Show in January–are just of few of the reasons to visit Q.  Yes, it’s crowded, traffic is horrendous, but the cultural experience is well worth it.

The very best people watching this side of Vegas awaits you in Q. From the sublime to the ridiculous, but guaranteed to entertain — like the “Naked Man’s Bookstore” or the dozens of tiny dog strollers proudly pushed forward by their aging ‘parents’.

dogs-in-strollers collage

We arrived in Q on an overcast but warm day on January 16 at Boomerville, a large area located on vast BLM lands. We joined an annual gathering organized by RV club group Escapees/Boomers. There is no official ‘address’ for Boomerville…, just follow a set of GPS coordinates in order to find your tribe (there are literally dozens and dozens of different groups gathering here).  Returning Boomer residents at Boomerville are all volunteers and though there are dozens of impromptu workshops and musical events (Mark and I judged a Chili Competition), no one will tell you what to do or where to go. You can do whatever you please, set up camp away from the ‘village’ or camp right in the heart of it. It’s “social individualism” at its best!

Boomerville 2019

Being in Quartzsite was also a test for our small motorcoach, Mr. Bond, to see how long it could last without hook ups of any kind (no power, water or sewer), commonly referred to in RV parlance as “boondocking”.  At 300w, the rig had ample solar power (or so we thought), and we had access to dumping facility. So we should be good, right?! But after the 5th day of a 6-day planned stay, we had to bail out in a hurry as our batteries were unable to recharge in a sustainable manner. I’ll save you the boring technical details, suffice it to say that our Mr. Bond, with all of his fancy electronics, is a power grabber and thus, can’t stay without being plugged in for more than 2-3 days max. More to come later following the result of our findings on that front.

Quarzsite is a laissez-faire town. The local population has embraced its thousands of snowbird visitors every winter. It profits from them and they are happy to oblige. The town in and of itself is not much to look at. You blink and it’s gone. But blink you should not because what’s here is worth checking — from the naked bookstore owner to the Hi Jolly’s Tomb (its official cemetery) to the dozens of “Rock Shops” selling everything from crystals to minerals, to jewelry to crafts to many other flea market items to Silly Al’s Pizza Bar or the Yacht Club Restaurant (a Yacht Club in the desert, a classic Q irony), it’s all good stuff!

As if all this wasn’t enough to keep us busy, on the night of January 20, we watched in awe the total lunar eclipse of the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse. The beautiful moon pic below is credited to our ‘neighbour-star’ photographer Sam, who took this shot with his looong camera lens.

Bottom line, I believe we lost our RVer virginity in Q, which is what we were hoping would happen! So Mission Accomplished! Whatever is next, we can handle!

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