Quartzsite: An Alternate Universe

Where else will you see tons of rocks for sale, quads driving down the road, bejewelled and bedazzled t-shirts, dogs in strollers, a yacht club, and a naked bookseller?  Quartzsite offers it all, although you may feel like you left Earth.  We really enjoyed our time in Quartzsite, both on the BLM land surrounding the town, and at the Airstream rally in town.

Quartzsite comes alive for a few short weeks in January.  The rock, mineral, gem, crystal, and fossil show may run longer. Many jewellery makers and rock collectors come for this.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  I’m glad I no longer have a house or else quite a few coffee table pieces may have made it home.  Lack of space saved us lots of money!

Rocks for all your needs!  To understand the scale of the amethyst in the first picture, look at the orange positioned at the top of it.  It was housed in its own steel crate, ready to be shipped to a sultan’s palace.

The RV show lasts only about 1 week and overlaps with the rock & gem show.  I was excited to go to The Big Tent to see the latest and greatest in RV supplies and gadgets.  Instead, we saw more veggie dicers and slicers than anyone needs.  The best part of the show was all the little pups being pushed around in strollers or pulled behind in wagons.  None of them were invalids like Daisy, though.  It’s a good way to protect them from getting trampled, but what a hassle pushing these strollers over stones!

Yacht Club

Yes, there is a yacht club on the desert, and they sell memberships!  Legend has it that people in the past used their Quartzsite Yacht Club membership to get into swanky yacht clubs.  Long time, no sea!

Paul Winer (aka Sweet Pie)

One of my bucket list items got checked off when we entered Reader’s Oasis Books and met its proprietor: the famous Sweet Pie.  Sweet Pie has quite a colorful history.  He used to be (well, he still is) an adult entertainer and traveled the world playing boogie woogie piano — naked, or almost!  He’s been charged many times for indecent exposure, but he won every case, because he technically wasn’t naked. He wears a pouch, of sorts. What a character!  I know he poses with his patrons for pictures, but I was too shy.  Instead we just got reading material.  His store is very well organized, and he can help you find anything.  He’s so professional even though he is only wearing a pouch!

Also, you can even buy your own pouch so that you can look like a bookseller too!  Thank you, Sweet Pie, you made my day.

Airstream Rally

We attended the Airstream rally with the el Camino unit. We met so many fun people and got tours of their rigs and advice on trailer size for our future trailer. We met a full-timing couple in a 2006 34-foot Airstream.  That’s 11 feet longer than ours!  It was so beautiful.  They renovated it and redecorated it to make it suitable for full-timing.  It was so fresh and homey in there.  I could have moved in!  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me when I took a tour.  To see their before & after pictures, please visit their blog: Bush’s RV Travel Journal

We also met a couple who travels about 6 months of the year, mostly off-grid in a 1956 16-foot Bubble.  I think they’ve owned their Bubble for about 17 years. Before that, they were tent campers.  One rainy camping trip in Canada sent them on a quest for a trailer.  It’s a story many of us can relate to.  Yes, the truck is a 1956, too.  The Bubble’s interior?  You guessed it!  All in 1956 reproduction fabrics and colors.  SWEET!  And, they use this trailer.

Daisy and Poppy enjoyed all the people and canines they met.  On our way back to Yuma, Poppy settled down in the motorhome.  Could it be she is getting used to it, or was she just exhausted?

We are back in Yuma for a few days to shower, do laundry, and recharge our batteries (literally and figuratively).  It turns out that we do not have enough solar panels to keep our batteries up.

Next stop?  Slab City!


Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

I have been following Bob Wells’ website “Cheap RV Living” for a few years, so I had been planning to attend the RTR some day.  He started the RTR back in 2010.  There were only 45 rigs at that first event.  It has grown exponentially.  This year, there were over 4500 rigs!  It is almost unfathomable to think that so many people have decided to ditch the usual path of life and live full-time on the road.  Because of the vast number of people, we didn’t get to meet too many personally, but we had a few chats.  One couple was down our loop.  They are work-campers at Glacier National Park in the summer and travel the rest of the year.  They also have a little old lady dog in tow.

Here’s Bob at our orientation. 
A glimpse of some of the attendees at the orientation.

There were many sessions to attend.  One of our favourites was a camping gadget show-and-tell.  Paul also attended a solar cooking methods session.  Many of these sessions were recorded and will be on YouTube on Bob Wells’ channel.  Because the event was so spread out, we didn’t attend nearly as many sessions as we would have liked.  The Bureau of Land Management kept track of our numbers, and took Bob out to see some larger sections of desert for us.  He was pleased to announce that next year, we will be in a new area without so many washes to walk through.  Yay!

There were about 5 Chinooks in attendance, but we had the only 24 footer.  The rest were 21 footers.

Here we are alone for about 1 night.  Then, it filled up. 
Other Chinooks:


Of course, there were some Airstreams:

  There were too many Airstreams to photograph.

And some other cool rigs:


Step Vans:

The fourth one in is Seven’s from the YouTube channel “Seven Wanders the World.”  He started his tea house and book exchange at the RTR, so we had a nice visit with him in his van and he made us tea. 
Joni has a new YouTube channel called The Galavan, and we got a tour of her rig: 


We met other YouTubers: Carolyn (Carolyn’s RV Life), Kevin & the woof pack (Campervan Kevin), and Brian (Adventure Van Man).  We also saw others, but didn’t chat with them like Eric (Nomadic Fanatic) and Elsa (Elsa Rhae).  Carolyn interviewed us briefly, so we may be in one of her videos.

My dad and I have often discussed how a bubble van would be a perfect camper, and someone brought one: 

It’s a Unicell fibreglass shell on a cutaway chassis.  I love the way the ceiling has an unfinished section so that sunshine can brighten the space.  They are made in Canada and the US.  The owner was shocked that I knew what it was.  Apparently, I was the only person who came by who knew.  I don’t know much, but when it comes to camping . . .

One of our neighbours had a 16-foot Casita and a passenger van that he converted to a campervan.  He did such a fantastic job.  It is like a sailboat inside.  He said he built out the van after his wife passed away because he needed a project.  He spoke so fondly of his wife and how she loved camping.  We enjoyed an evening campfire with him.  Here is Kevin and Blaze and the campervan:


Our good friends, Ted and Dona from Saskatoon, made it to the RTR for a couple of days.  We were so happy to see them, but Poppy was happiest!  She loves them.  Ted and Dona let us driveway-camp and provided us with hot showers, electricity, and meals in Saskatoon.  Also, Poppy loved stretching out in their house, so when they arrived, you can imagine her excitement. 

The RTR ends tomorrow (Sunday January 21), but we left on Thursday to join our Airstream club for a camp out.  Stay tuned for more fun in Quartzite.

Head for the Hills

Our neighbour, Mike, at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) had a side-by-side quad, and he took Paul up in the hills near our campsite in Quartzite.  A quad is pretty handy to use as a secondary vehicle.  They are even legal on roads in Arizona.

          These cholla may look cuddly, but beware!  

Here is our group down below. Can you count the rigs? More on that later.  

Peaceful Easy Feeling

We arrived at Quartzite in the late afternoon on Wednesday.  We are camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which means that we can camp for 14 days for free, and then we have to move.  It is like Crown Land in Canada, but freer and more usable.

We had planned to leave Yuma on Tuesday, but we got a windstorm (sandstorm) followed by rain. Yes, rain!  It will probably be one of the few showers we will see down here.  As a result, we decided not to leave for Quartzite until Wednesday. The rain means the desert will bloom in a few days!

Saguaro and teddy bear cholla

The desert is spectacular!  I can’t get enough saguaro cacti. However, the desert is thorny. Everywhere. I’m always watching where the dogs step because there are prickers growing all over the ground. Not to mention all the thorns grabbing at your legs from the sides. The plant life has to protect itself some way. It’s a tough life waiting for rain a few times per year. Even with the thorns, needles, and pickers, the beauty is unmatched.

The desert floor is like pavement. The rocks are flat (Yes, there are some big sharp ones too. Remember everything is sharp here.).  However, the flat rocks have a smooth shiny patina from years of weathering. It is so smooth and flat that you don’t need to worry about finding a level site.  It’s almost as smooth as pavement.  Then, there are washes which are like gullies formed to carry away the rainwater.

After enjoying a glorious sunset, we were treated to a billion stars all around. Nature at its finest.

And the best sleep ever.

The wash behind our camp:
Flat level site:    

What are the poor people doing?

Enjoying the billion stars all around: 

The desert is cold for little old ladies

Tru, Reece, and Tonto:

Make a Run for the Border!

On January 2, Jim and Marietta dropped by around noon to see if we wanted to run into Los Algondones, Mexico.  Heck, yeah!

Los Algodones is really close to Yuma, and it is a destination for medical tourism.  There are lots of advertisements for doctors and dentists here in Yuma, but they are located in Los Algodones.  Jim needed new lenses for his glasses and an eye exam.  The eye exam is free when you get new lenses or a whole new set of glasses and lenses.  Deal!

We drove to the parking lot at the border (Winterhaven, CA) and just walked across.  How simple is that?  The parking lot is run by the Quechan tribe, and it costs $6/day for cars to park, and I think around $12/day for RVs.  On any given day, the parking lot is pretty full.  The Quechan tribe also has a nearby casino which allows overnight parking for RVs.


The streets are lined with offices of dentists, physicians, optometrists, and pharmacies.  Also, you have to navigate the street vendors peddling their wares — their many many wares.  I must admit that if I had more room, one or two pottery bowls might have made their way into my bag.  Instead, we settled on my practical items, like tequila and fresh shrimp packed in ice from Puerto Peñasco.


There aren’t many street dogs in Los Algodones.  I saw this little cutie sunning herself, but as soon as I took out my camera, she toddled over.  Then, her buddy saw and joined her.  I don’t think they were street dogs.  They were just highly trained snack hounds.

Medical tourism is for the dogs, too.  We met a man on a bench holding his little dog as the anaesthetic wore off.  The dog had just had his teeth cleaned.  He said his two girl-dogs’ teeth stay clean with bones, but his boy-dog’s teeth don’t.  The cleaning was about $90.

A dentist recommended a good restaurant to us, but when we saw that the prices were what we would pay in the US or Canada, we opted for street food.  We had seen one vendor earlier, and went back.  It was a great choice.  We each had 2 tacos and a drink for a total of $4.50.  That’s what I’m talking about!


We cooked up the shrimp for dinner.  Look at the size!


In addition to tequila, Paul also bought this bottle of mystery alcohol.  A local told him that they add it to a concoction of unpasteurized milk, coffee and hot chocolate.  A 1/2 liter only costs $0.68!  Well, how does it taste?  According to Paul, “Not bad.”  He doesn’t think it is very high in alcohol, even though the bottle says 24%.


We are leaving Yuma today and heading to Quartzite for the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR).  It is an event organized by Bob Wells.  Bob has an informative YouTube channel on how to live full-time on the road.  His website is cheaprvliving.com.  A few days ago, we were pulling into Wal-Mart, and we saw a van that looked like Bob’s.  It was Bob’s van, and he was lashing his bike to his carrier.  We got to meet him and talk to him briefly.  I was so happy.  We don’t think we will get to talk to him at the RTR because about 1000 units are expected.

We will be boondocking on the desert for about 2 weeks, so I won’t be able to update my blog until after the event.

The Elite Iditarod Team

Donna Dee used to race sled dogs, but now she has a Pomerian, a Border Collie, and a Standard poodle, so what do you do?  Hitch them up and go!


She has even taken Poppy on a trial run.  Poppy actually did fairly well considering she is very afraid of bikes, but she trusts Donna.  Donna had her on a training leash next to the trike.


Too bad Reece got cut out of this picture:IMG_6337

Doesn’t Poppy look smart in a sled dog harness?

Happy Hour

Our biggest stress these days is making it back to the park by 4 pm, in time for Happy Hour.  The location of Happy Hour changes, and the way you know where it is is to look for the walker!  So humorous!


All these happy hours have given us the opportunity to try out many Chardonnays, and I’m pleased to say that we have found several buttery ones!IMG_6236

We have a bottle of Butter Bomb chilling right now.  With a name like that, it’s sure to please.

Moon Howl

January 1 was the full-moon, so we had a bonfire and hotdog roast.  They do this every month in the park.  It’s called the Moon Howl.  Before the fire was ready for roasting wieners, Donna Dee took her dogs out for run.

Here is Tonto, the Pomeranian, howling at the moon.  He’s such a little ham.


Waiting for the sun to set and the moon to rise:


Don made the fire-pit out of a washing machine tub, and then mounted it on a lawnmower base.  Such fun!IMG_6293IMG_6291IMG_6301


Morning Walks

We have irrigation canals around the RV park.  The berm is well-groomed for people to walk or bike.  People really have to be careful about cleaning up after their dogs, although many do not.  No poop can get into these irrigation canals.  If you wonder how e-coli gets onto our lettuce, that’s how.

This is the park on the other side of the canal from Yuma Mesa RV Park, where we are staying.  I love the big saguaro cactus.  It’s a pretty park, but it doesn’t have a pool, hot tub, shuffleboard, etc.


Most days, we just take Daisy and Poppy on our morning walk, but on the odd day, we ask Donna Dee if Tru & Reece can come with us.IMG_6232

Tru is a Border Collie.  She’s an old girl, but you’d never know it.  She’s very frisky and would play fetch until she died.  She really does have OCD, so you have to control her fetch games.  She is also an Olympic Cuddler like Poppy.  Paul wants to steal her.IMG_6220

Reece is a Standard Poodle.  He is such a handsome boy!  Yes, I want to steal him.  I keep whispering in his big ears that he should hop in the Chinook when we leave.  In the meantime, we’ll keep playing with these two precious dogs.  Donna rescued Reece and has really brought him out of his shell.  He didn’t have a good early life, but he’s livin’ the life now!  Some evenings, Donna will come over and spend some time visiting in the Chinook.  She will bring one of the dogs, so we get more time with them.IMG_6219

One day, we crossed the main road and walked along another canal berm.  As we approached a date palm grove, we thought we might be near my Aunty Candice and Uncle Gunner’s place, and sure enough, we were!  That day, we also had Reece and Tru with us.  We were all pretty hot, so we got refreshed on my aunt and uncle’s porch.  What a great walk that was!  We were so surprised that it only took 35 minutes to walk there.  Of course, Tru found a lovely display of pinecones in a bowl and tried to entice my uncle to play fetch with her!  What a girl!

Other Creatures, Great and Small

There is a dead tree near our park, and every morning the vultures perch on it and warm their wings.  It was a little disconcerting the first time I walked by, but they kept to themselves and didn’t look twice at Daisy.


There are also citrus fruit groves and other crops.  Check out this field:IMG_6254IMG_6250IMG_6255

The day before I walked by, they were so wooly.  The next morning, I remembered my camera, but during the evening, they lost their coats!  As I approached, they came running over.

These sheep are from Montana.  It is cheaper for farmers to send their sheep south than to buy feed for them for the winter.  They get moved from field to field.  They can clear a field in a couple of days, and they add much needed nutrients.  Lucky sheep!  Who wouldn’t want to spend their winters in Arizona?