I usually stay behind and work while Terry forces Kurt to go geocaching, but since this particular trip seemed to involve some dirt and Jeep driving, I volunteered to be the driver. What I really wanted to do was go four-wheeling, but this was close enough.
After spending some time figuring out which dirt road to take out of town, we finally found one that seemed to wander off in the right direction, so we headed out. Quartzsite seems to be the only town that I’ve ever seen that seems to be surrounded by dirt and various and sundry washes. In fact, we had to pull two trucks out of the washes earlier in the day after they decided to use the wash as overflow parking for the giant flea market. I think their shopping day was cut short a bit.
We had heard about Quartzsite, Arizona as the snowbird capitol of the RV world, so we decided to make this our first stop since it’s January and we don’t want to get too cold.
Here is the info:
It’s located about 20 miles west of the California border along I-10. It is easily accessed from the interstate by taking the Quartzsite exit. We are staying in a campground managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in one of their long-term visitor areas (LTVA’s). They really do allow you to stay long-term — 7 months to be exact. For a mere $180 you can stay from September 15 to April 15 without having to move. You can buy your permit at each of the kiosks at the entrances. If you get in when the office is closed go ahead and park, then go by the office as soon as they open (9-4).
There are no hookups, so come with full and empty tanks (you know which ones are which). Dumpsters are available at all sites, and dump stations and free water are available at La Posa South LTVA. BLM trail maps can also be purchased at the kiosks.
Just because the name of the parade seems a little high and jolly doesn’t mean that that was what it was. We had actually found out earlier in the week that a guy named Hi Jolly made himself famous in Quartzsite for the herd of camels that he used to shepherd through here. Yes, that’s right — camels. Turns out the government had this brilliant idea to use them during the civil war since they were better than mules as pack animals. They even like creosote bushes and can carry 600 pounds. But I digress.
We headed out for wild blue yonder on December 30, 2009 with every intention of going to Texas to ‘become’ Texans by registering our cars and getting driver’s licenses. We promptly blew a tire on the trailer in the first 50 miles, which was changed by my husband Terry and son Kurt with plenty of grumbling and obscenities along the way. They are getting really good at it though.
Even so, we made it to Banning, CA as planned and spent the night at the KOA there. We couldn’t run the heater in the trailer that night because we had the quads in the cargo bay. Kurt’s quad leaks gas pretty bad, so it was kind of like sleeping inside of a giant gas tank. I was afraid to run anything fueled by flames. Which is why I couldn’t cook, so we went to a restaurant for dinner. I decided to show Terry the really cool weather app on my iPhone, and how I had been watching the weather in Texas, Paso Robles, and Quartzsite Arizona all at the same time. He was intrigued and decided to put on his granny glasses so that he could study it some. After looking at the weather in Texas he exclaimed that he liked the weather in Quartzsite better. So right then and there we decided to stop in Quartzsite the next morning, unload our giant gas tank and park there for awhile.
We enjoyed our first real day of full-timing on January 1 by visiting one side of one street in several of the tent cities in Quartzsite. They have vendors who sell everything from $1 kitchen gadgets to $5,000 rocks for your yard. Had a great time doing that and only scratched the surface of the ‘shopping’ available.