Quartzsite … the Big Show

Well it’s been more than a few days since my last post.  So we’ve been at Quartzsite now for almost 3 weeks.  We arrived on Saturday Jan 11.  Our travel from Holtville took us back through Yuma and then up US 95 north to Quartzsite.  We passed La Posa South LTVA, which is our destination, and went right into town.  We stopped for fuel at the Arco station on the east side of town cause it’s an easy in and out for the Motorhome with the car dolly in tow.  Also they seem to always have the cheapest fuel.  Next we filled up our propane at the 76 station in the centre of town, also an easy in and out.  Afterwards we headed back out of town and arrived at La Posa South about 3:30 pm.  For those of you unfamiliar with boondocking in the desert, I’ll explain a couple of terms.  We are camping on BLM land which is federally owned land that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  Much of the Arizona desert is BLM and there are many places to park with an RV and camp (boondock) for free.  Boondocking is camping without any amenities, including no washroom facilities.  LTVA stands for Long Term Visitor Area.  These are areas in the BLM system which have some facilities.  No water or electrical hookups, but they may contain dump stations and water fill-up stations and a garbage facility.  LTVAs charge a fee for either a short term permit at $40 for 14 days or long term permit of $180 for 6 months.  If you buy a permit at one LTVA’s it can also be used at another of the associated LTVAs.  You can see by the cost of the 6 month permit that it is easy very economical way to boondock in the desert even with some facilities.  So we’re at La Posa South LTVA just south from Quartzsite about 4 miles and we’re camped in the middle of the desert.  This LTVA has all the facilities I mentioned above and there are also pit toilets spread out in the area.  Fortunately for us and many of the RVers out here, we’re mostly self contained.  We have solar power and a generator.  We really have all the comforts of home.  Our only concern is conserving our power and water. No long showers, using minimal amounts of water to do dishes, that kind of thing.  We can spend 12 days boondocking without having to dump our holding tanks and get fresh water depending on how we conserve. So that’s your brief explanation of boondocking in Arizona.

Sunday, Jan 12 was kind of a relaxing day.  I did go into Quartzsite to an RV service and parts store called RV Lifestyles to get a few replacement gas struts for our outside compartment doors.  I bought a few last January when we were here.  They have the best prices I’ve seen so far.  So I got those and installed them when I got back to the motorhome.  Monday was also a relaxing day.  When we came in on Saturday we planned to park in the same area we had been in last year.  We discovered that area already occupied.  So we drove around a bit in the LTVA and found another spot that would accomodate several RVs.  We wanted a spot large enough to accomodate 5+ RV’s.  We had a bit of a dilemma.  You see in BLM boondocking there are no campsites per se, you just find a spot.  We tried to make as big a footprint as we could so that no other RV’s would park in “our” area.  We parked our motorhome in the middle and parked the car a little distance away.  Most campers try to keep some distance away from each other out of courtesy.  This seemed to work but it also meant that if we drove off in the car, our area was unprotected from intrusion.  Anyway, we really didn’t have any place to be so we just relaxed and enjoyed the outdoors.  Our plan worked well and in the end we had room for all who came.

On Tuesday our first friends, Tom and Deb, arrived.  Actually Deb arrived first in their tow car to find us and she waited with us while Tom went to town for propane etc. much the same as we did when we arrived.  Once Tom arrived we discussed how we wanted to arrange our RVs and they found a nice spot and set up camp.  We also moved our Motorhome to better accomodate others who would arrive later.  It was great to see Tom and Deb.  We last saw them in the Quartzsite area in March of last year.  We spent time catching and enjoyed happy hour together that afternoon. 

George Yates

Wednesday morning we learned that our good friend George Yates had passed away.  George and Suzie had become such good friends in a very short time.  We met them both in May of 2018 at Rock Glen RV park.  Kim had started following George’s blog a couple years before when we started thinking thinking about retiring with our RV.  They have been fulltime RVers for many years and gladly shared so much information with us.  We always looked forward to seeing them whenever we happened to be in the same area.  George always had a big smile on his face and I’m (we’re) lucky to have known him.  George welcomed us into the group of people we now call our friends last year, right here in Quartzsite.

Today also saw the arrival of another group.  Bill and Patsy, and Bob and Jo-Anne, travelled up from Pilot Knob.  Everybody found a spot and got set up.  Our group has grown.  So we gathered together in Quartzsite for the upcoming RV Show that began on Jan 18th and runs for 8 days.  This area is the Southwest RV mecca for that week.  I described it last year in my blog in detail I think.  So briefly, there are thousands of RVs here.  Some estimates are as high a 100,000 RVs gather in the Quartzsite area for show week.  There are over 50 RV parks in the town of Quartzsite and the surrounding desert is full of RVs.  It really is something you have to experience to fully understand.  After the show is over most people move on to other locations.  But during the show the town is bustling.  Crowds of people and traffic jams.  Along side the main show there are many vendors who setup their wares in the area around the show.  

Thursday Kim and I travelled in to Quartzsite to check out some of the vendors in an area near the show grounds known as Tyson Wells.  There were many vendors already open with more to come.  We thought we would wander around before the crowds show up. A couple small purchases were made but we knew we would be back again.

On Friday Keith, whom we met at Pilot Knob arrived with his RV and we had a spot for him too.  Keith is from Tillsonburg, Ontario.  Friday is also the day when many RVs arrive to the area.  There are several groups who get together in La Posa South.  There is a Wanderlodge group (Wanderlodge is a brand of Motorhome made by Bluebird),  There’s a Monaco group (also an RV Brand), and there’s also the Rainbow RVers group.  There are other various groups as well.  One more notable group is the Entegra group.  Entegra is a brand of very high end motorhomes.  They had a very large group and because of the size of their motorhomes they could only take certain paths through the desert to get to their meeting area.  Their route happened to go right past our group area.  So Friday was what we began to call the Entergra parade.  We enjoyed watching all these expensive Motorhomes drive past.  It was like having our own RV show.  These coaches start in the neighbourhood of $450K US and go to in excess of $750K US.  Yikes!!!.  It was fun just the same to watch them drive pass.

So Saturday was the start of the really big shoo.  We wanted to be there when the gates opened.  The whole gang of us arrived at the show at about 8:15 and waited for the gates to open at 9:00.  It was a bit of a chilly start to the day but we tried to stand in the sun to stay warmer.  Once the gates opened there was a flood of people and off we went.  The main attraction is the Big Tent which contains many RV related vendors.  RV parks are represented and there are many aftermarket RV accessory companies.  Outside around the big tent are more vendors and food booths.  Next to this area there are RV dealers and they have many RVs on hand, new and used, that you can view.  The thing about opening day is that many of the vendors have free stuff to give out.  It’s all promotional stuff and many offered the same types of things.  The most popular being drink coozies and lip balms it seemed.  So we all made our way around the aisles gathering all our goodies in our promotional bags.  We had quite the haul.  We sat around at happy hour that afternoon talking about our “treasures”.  It was actually quite fun.  After we made our first pass through the tent I went back to talk to some vendors about Tire Pressure Monitor Systems (TPMS).  I had done my research ahead of time so I knew what I was looking for.  I talked to several vendors and got prices etc. but didn’t buy anything.  Kim and I were home by lunchtime or thereabouts.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Sunday morning I headed back in to the show before it got too busy to buy one of the TPMS.  I bought an EEzRV Tire monitor system.  The price was good and it has a very high rating from any reviews that I could find online. I had some issues getting the system running properly but in the end I’m quite satisfied with it.  I’ll have to wait to see how it performs down the road.  Also on Sunday was the surprise arrival of our friends Ken and Shirley from Nevada.  We had hoped to see them this winter but it seemed they weren’t going to made it to Quartzsite while we were all here.  Their stay was going to be a short one as they had to get back homes for some appointments.  But it was great to see them.  So we all had a very enjoyable long happy hour together.  I haven’t been mentioning happy hours much in this post, but it’s a given out here.  Any time friends gather together they are sure to be having happy hour together. In the evening we had a campfire together with wood that Bob had been gathering on his trip.  Campfires are rare for us out in Arizona because there are no trees to speak of in the desert and buying firewood is quite expensive.

On Monday a group of 15 of us went for pizza at Silly Al’s Pizza in town.  We went at 3:30 hoping to beat the rush but the place was packed.  So we waited for quite a long time to get a table for all of us but eventually had to break up into 2 groups.  Silly Al’s Pizza is excellent and worth the wait.  George Yates was the one who introduced us all to Silly Al’s so we gathered there for pizza while we all were in Quartzsite as kind of a tribute to him.

Tuesday a few of us went back in to the RV show and toured around Tyson Wells in the morning.  

On Wednesday morning Kim and I went into town to tour some of the Motorhomes at RV Country.  They had quite a few of the Entegra coaches I mentioned earlier on display.  As is usually the case we didn’t see any we really liked.  Phew,  that saved me a lot of money.  We really don’t like a lot of the new Motorhomes.   They just don’t have floorplans that we like.  And most have cheap leather furniture.  In the afternoon we had guests at our happy hour.  Dave and Cheryl are staying up in Parker and drove down for the show and then dropped by.  We began our happy hour with Bill saying a few words in remembrance of George and champagne was poured and we all raised our glasses to George and a life well lived.

I’m not sure who I borrowed this last picture of George from, but I hope you don’t mind my using it here. It just seemed fitting

Thursday morning we started up the motorhome and headed down to the dump station to empty tanks and fill up our water tank.  During show week there is always a long line of RVs doing the same thing, so we waited in line for 1 3/4 hrs.  Oh well it’s got to be done.  While we waited, Kim got some computer work done so that’s good.   After arriving back at our spot Ken and Shirley were getting ready to head out on the way back home.  We all said our good-byes and off they went.  We may still see them another time before we head home.  Another new guest to happy hour was Doug Laning.  He’s a fellow RV blogger from Illinois, who other members of the group know, but whom Kim and I met for the first time.  Doug’s blog is Miss Adventure Travels. Bill and Keith left happy hour early to go into the Quartzsite RC Club airfield to do some flying.  I followed later before sunset to take some pictures.  The club gathers on Thursday evening to fly planes with lights on them.  It makes for an interesting show at dusk and on into darkness.  Got some nice pictures but its hard to get good crisp shots in low light when the planes are moving as well.

 Friday morning Bob and Jo-Anne headed out on their way to the Indio, California area to visit some of Bob’s relatives.  We’ll probably see them again in a few weeks back in Yuma.  Kim and I went back into Quartzsite to another RV place called Mesa RV.  They actually had a few Motorhomes we liked.  There was a new Winnebago Horizon that was nice (and expensive).  Also they had a 2011 Holiday Rambler Endeavor 43ft.  That was very nice but still out of our price range.  We’re quite happy with our Journey but we always like looking.

Saturday we went to the Bloggerfest.  Its a get-together of blogging friends who happen to be in Quartzsite.  There were about 9 of there.  We all introduced ourselves and our blogs and then chatting together about blogging and such.  It’s mostly just an informal gathering and we didn’t stay a long time.  Happy hour again with the usual group.

Sunday morning I headed back into the airfield to take a few more pictures of Bill and Keith flying their planes.  It was a beautiful blue sky and little wind and I did get a few good shots.

Monday morning Kim and I headed out for a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park.  This is another place on my list of places to see.  We entered the park from the south entrance and there was lots of great scenery.  But the best in my mind was once we got about halfway into the park we began to see Joshua Trees.  The terrain is rugged and each area is slightly different.  Once you get into the Joshua Tree area they are everywhere.  I didn’t discover until almost the end of our trip that I had our SLR camera settings messed up so most of those pictures were pretty washed out.  I did get some good ones.  Kim got some good shots with her iphone so that’s good. We continued all the way north through the park and exited into the town of Joshua Tree.  We then headed back to camp on the north side, outside of the park.  The road east was flat and straight and you could see for miles.  It was a long day on the road, but it was worth the drive.  I’d go back again anytime.  We left Quartzsite about 9:30 in the morning and didn’t get back until after 5:30.  Most of that was driving and stopping to take pictures here and there along the road.

Tuesday morning, Tom and Deb pulled out and headed down the road to meet up with some other friends for a few days and Wednesday morning Bill and Patsy and Keith headed out on their way to Pilot Knob, back near Yuma.  Kim is doing some work now, Wednesday afternoon, and I’m trying to write this blog.  We have a couple more nights here at La Posa and then we will head down to Pilot Knob on Friday for a couple weeks.  Today is chillier that the last few days and the wind has picked up.  We’ve had some really nice sunny days here in the last 2 weeks+.  Highs in the upper teens and lower 20’s for you Celsius people, and 60’s and 70’s for you Fahrenheit people.  Well now to edit some photos for the blog and do some proofreading and the blog will be done.  And now you’re caught up!!

and now for your sunset viewing pleasure…

Hot Springs, Borrego Springs, and Palm Springs and a little more

The first post for 2020.  We’ve moved on from Pilot Knob RV Park.  We’re now down the road to the west at Holtville Hotspring LVTA  (Long Term Visitors Area).  This is BLM land but there is a fee of $40 for 14 days of camping. I’ll get back to that later.  So it’s time to bring you up to date with us over the past week and a bit.

We had our traditional Bar-b-q for supper on New Year’s Eve.  We picked up some bacon wrapped beef tenderloins on sale at Fry’s which were perfect for a Bar-b-q.  We had that along with Baked Potatoes.  It sure was nicer Barb-q-ing in the desert than at home in the cold and snow.  I remember some pretty cold New Year’s Eves standing outside cooking up some filet mignon.  We celebrated the evening with Bill and Patsy. We played some card games and a couple games of Bananagrams.  We watched the ball drop in New York city at 10 pm Arizona time.  We were back to the RV shortly after 11:30 I think.  Interestingly Yuma has quite a big New Year’s Eve celebration of their own, although we didn’t attend.  They have an iceberg lettuce drop to coincide with the New York ball drop and then do it again at midnight Mountain time (Arizona time).  They also have live music.  It’s a regular party in downtown Old Yuma.

On Thursday Tom and Deb pulled out and headed west to a boondocking area just down the road.  We also played some Bocce Ball in the morning.  Not too big of a group that morning.  The weather was almost perfect too.  

Friday we went with Bill and Patsy to the burger night at the park clubhouse.  I played some poker Friday evening.

Sunday morning we left Pilot Knob and came out to Holtville.  We want to use this as a jumping off point to explore further into California.  We found a very nice spot close to the main “road” through the camping area.  A few clumps of bushes around us give a little bit of privacy.   Not that its necessary out here since everyone is spread out pretty well.  

On Monday we headed out for a drive with a destination of Borrego Springs.  We have heard many of our friends talk about the area so we thought we would check it out.  We got away fairly early.  A little cool as we started out but it didn’t take long for it to warm up.  We headed northwest through Holtville and then north towards the Salton Sea.  The Salton Sea is a dying or dead lake.  There used to be many Tilapia in it that were introduced to the lake because of its salt water.  The salinity of the water has increased over the years to the point where almost all of the fish have died.  The surface of the lake is 237 ft. below sea level.  The history of the Salton Sea is quite interesting, you might google it if you’re interested.

We skirted around the southwest edge of the lake and then headed NW through the Anza-Borrego State Park towards Borrego Springs. 

Our goal was to see the large metal sculptures that we have heard about, out in the desert surrounding the town.  Our Google maps lead us to the area of the sculptures and we spent an hour or so taking photos of the various sculpture.  Quite an accomplishment for one person. 

We then drove around to find the business area of the town.  We passed through a residential area near the Golf Club which had some very nice houses in it.  But away from there the property was a little run-down.  We did manage to find the “downtown”.  It was quite small but did have a few stores and a small plaza.  We ate lunch at Carmelita’s Cantina.  It was a Mexican restaurant mostly.  I had a Burrito and a Taco and Kim had a Burrito and an Enchilada.  The food was very good.  Kim says better than the places we go to in Los Algodones, Mexico.

After lunch we decided to head up into the mountains to Julian.  It was quite the drive.  Lots of twists and turns.  Probably even more than the road we travelled last year up to Oatman in Arizona.  This road to Julian passes through the Anza- Borrego Park as well.  The scenery was stunning.  The road had some steep drop offs.  This is not a road to travel in an RV.  Anyway once in Julian we found it rather interesting.  Lots of shops.  The normal boutique type shops you would see in a tourist stop.  The one thing Julian seems to be known for though, is the Julian Pie Company.  The location in Julian is where the business started and where they have their store/restaurant.  They make 2000 pies a day at their shop, high in the mountains, in Santa Ysabel.  Santa Ysabel is just 10 minutes away.  They will ship pies all over the USA from their Santa Ysabel location.  I got a piece of Dutch Apple pie and Kim got a couple muffins (an apple walnut and a pumpkin) to take back the RV with us.  I had the pie later in the evening and it was great. Kim said the apple walnut was her favorite.

The tempertaure this day was about 73F (23C) in Borrego Springs, but once we got up into the mountains the temperature fell drastically and it was very windy.  It was in the in the low 50’s F (low teens in Celsius).  After Julian we began our 2 hour drive back to Holtville.  This was also a nice drive back down through another canyon.   We arrived back at the RV around 4 PM Pacific time.  Home in time to see a nice sunset and then to have some supper.  It was a long day so neither of us stayed up too late that night.

We considered taking Tuesday off from sightseeing, but once we were up and rested in the morning we decided to head out again.  This time our destination was Salvation Mountain and possibly Slab City.  And then take a drive around the Salton Sea and back to camp.  Again we got a relatively early start and drove north to the village of Niland and then out to Slab City.  On the road into Slab City, you can’t miss seeing Salvation Mountain sitting off to the right from the roadway.  This was our stop so we got out and wandered around for a bit.  We were allowed to climb on the mountain up the yellow brick road.  The entire “mountain” is a kind of paper mache.  The mountain is built on an existing mound of dirt and rock.  Straw was then used to cover the ground and adobe covers the straw.  The entire structure is covered with vivid paint.  There are some parts of the structure that are damaged but it is constantly being repaired.  The weather takes a toll on the mountain.  It is a very unique thing to see.

We then decided to take a drive into Slab City.  It’s an interesting place.  It’s somewhat like other boondocking locations but the RV’s and other structures are in all different states of disrepair.  Many of the residents are long term but there are some who are obviously transient.  You see decrepit old trailers as well a modern Motorhome.  We didn’t stop to walk around and talk to people, we just kinda took a tour.  

We continued to make our way around the eastern side of the Salton Sea.  We stopped for a brief lunch along the side of the road.  Another few miles and we came upon a couple of State Campgrounds.  Each was somewhat close to the Lake.  The first one was basically a boondocking spot with pit toilets.  It was $10 a night.  The second campground had hookups and was $20 dollars a night.  This campground had a camp host and we stopped and chatted with him for quite a while.  He was very knowledgeable about the area and the Salton Sea.  We continued around north of the lake and discovered many Date farms.  There was a much higher concentration of Date farms here than we’ve seen any where else here in the southwest. 

At this point we were only about 40 miles from Palm Springs, so we decided to continue on to there.  We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there so we located a neighbourhood called Ruth Hardy Park and toured around for a bit to see all the up-scale residences.  This is the area known as the Movie Colony.  Many of the West Coast celebrities had homes in this area.  People like Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and the like.  Kim got a few photos as we drove around.  So just a quick tour and then back on the road to Holtville and our RV.  

We got back to the RV around 4:30 and relaxed a bit before supper.  Another nice sunset and a relaxing evening.  

So now its Wednesday and this will be our “at the RV” day.  I’ve used the day to write this blog and Kim has spent the better part of today doing some work.  Its a nice warm afternoon and its now about 2:00 pm.  So I’m going to stop working on the blog until later.  I’ll add some photos and get Kim to do some proofreading and editing.  I should have this post up this evening.

I’ll post again after we get to Quartzsite in a few days or so.