This was one of the few planned stops we chose to do before we even left South Dakota for a few reasons. Quartzsite is home to the Sports, Vacation and RV Show and is considered the largest gathering of RVers in the World. An estimated 750,000 to 1,000,000 people converge upon this small desert town just off the I-10 only 20 miles east of the California border. Not really sure who is doing the counting, but yes there were a lot of people!!
On the topic of convergences, that was the other reason for making the trek. The 1st Annual Xscapers Convergence at Quartzsite. We had joined Xscapers, which is kind of a club within a club. It started over 40 years ago as the Escapees RV Club. Its really a support network for RVers and they provide a long list of services and discount RV Parks. For just under $40.00 per year it’s a real bargain. As an Xscaper member we receive all the same benefits as an Escapee, however it is geared for those of us that are not yet retired and are working on the road. For more information, visit their website at http://www.xscapers.com
Our Arrival and Escapees Happy Hour
A short video of our pulling into Quartzsite and heading out to where we’ll call home for the next few days.
We arrived in Quartzsite on Wednesday, January 13th and parked with the Escapees for their 2 day Happy Hour event. The actual Xscapers Convergence was scheduled to start on Friday. As we had never been here before the only thing we had to go on was a set of GPS coordinates and that was all we needed. Once we got to the site there was a friendly host helping everyone get parked. When I say parked, I’m talking in a wide open spot out in the desert. For miles and miles around Quartzsite it’s nothing but thousands of RVers parked all over the desert. Some of the areas are free, some of them require a permit. It’s quite amazing to see such a gathering!! For a couple days it was kind of tight as The Escapees had an awesome turnout. We met some really fun people and had our first sample of cherries soaked in moonshine and butterscotch schnapps by some Escapee members from Tennessee. That combo will really get you the next day!!
The Xscapers Convergence
By Friday most of the Escapees had cleared out and we had a little more room. By design nothing was actually scheduled till late afternoon as most of us are not retired and still work during the day. First up was a discussion regarding the challenges of boondocking. There was a great turnout for this and a very interesting topic as some members in attendance were actually boondocking for the first time. The only problem, it was hard to hear what people were saying. We regret not grabbing some gear and getting a microphone going that first day!! We finished off the day with a bonfire and just spent time getting to know people.
For the second day Rod and I met and spoke with Travis and Melanie Carr regarding getting out some of our gear so people could hear the discussions better. What good is dragging all that gear along if you can’t bust it out and help out a good cause! Some quick background on Travis and Melanie. Travis is the grandson of the founders of the Escapees RV Club. Click here for more information about them and the club.
It’s a little smaller group for the second day, but at least we can hear!!! (I think some people had a little too much fun around the bonfire the previous evening!!) This gave everyone in the group a chance to talk a bit about themselves. Mainly, how do you make a living on the road and what is your biggest challenge. It was like a broken record for a lot of people. The biggest challenge is affordable and reliable internet connectivity.
It just so happens that in attendance are Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia.com. They were gracious enough to talk about all the options and answer questions. We have followed their blog for almost 3 years and if you have any questions regarding connectivity on the road, these two have the experience and the answers. For more information regarding mobile connectivity please check out their site at the RV Mobile Internet Resource Center.
After a short break we had an RV Refrigeration and Troubleshooting seminar by Paul Unmack. It was very in depth and we learned a lot about how an RV fridge works and also something we’ve been doing wrong!! We learned that while traveling to turn our fridge off!!! An RV fridge needs to be as level as possible, you can burn up your fridge (literally) if running it while not be level for an extended period of time.
The day ended with one more bonfire and the 1st Annual Xscapers Quartzsite Convergence was over. But wait, was it really over so fast??!!
Below is a short aerial video taken by Mike Fischer of Life Rebooted which gives you an overview of our location.
Two Days Wasn‘t Enough – Let’s Keep It Going
After the official Convergence ended many of us decided that two days just wasn’t enough and decided to find a new location, further away from the highway and where we could each have a bit more space. A scouting party headed out to find a location and it wasn’t long before a post went up on the Facebook Group Page (which is how we all communicated) and GPS coordinates with turn by turn directions and photos went up and off we went. There were 18 to 20 of us that headed out to the new location.
Since we had already been boondocking for several days we took advantage of dumping and filling our tanks before we moved to the new location. This was the first time we used kind of an assembly line dump and fill service. If I remember right I think we had to pay 20.00 to dump and fill, which since there are only a few locations around Quartzsite to do this they can pretty much charge what they want. However, since we didn’t have to pay any camping fees for 14 days it wasn’t so bad.
Note the sign as we were exiting the dump/fill area. Hey, it’s Quartzsite and you can find any type of RV Service you need here and they will even come out to where you are parked in the middle of the desert to work on your rig.
It was really nice to get away from the interstate and have some room to spread out. There was no “schedule” and if you wanted to host something you just popped it out on the FB Group Page. One evening we headed over to a bonfire and a couple nights we hit up the outdoor movies hosted by Technomadia. There were impromptu hikes, day trips, even gold prospecting and as many of you already seen we hosted a music night. I’m not going to go into detail about that, as this video pretty much sums it all up. It was all very chill and laid back and we really had a great time with a great group of people!!
The RV Show
The official RV show runs for a week, and the “centerpiece” of the show resides under the Big Tent. It’s kind of like going to a big fair with loads of vendors, food and of course the knife guy with his little lapel microphone doing his demos trying to get you to buy new kitchen gadgets. There were quite a few non related vendors there as well trying to sell you skin cream and even tread mills. Although, I have no idea where you would put a tread mill in an RV!!
There were resort representatives trying to entice you to book a stay, even Amazon was there recruiting workers for next year’s holiday season. Next to them was the booth for the sugar beet harvest recruiting work campers for the next harvest.
It spreads way beyond the tent. Blocks and blocks of tents and vendors are set up all over town. It’s like the whole town becomes one huge flea market. If you are a rock hound this is the place to come. That’s what started the whole thing, the rock and mineral show.
There are street musicians and on many corners I was struck by how many homeless people we saw begging for food and money. In fact we stopped in for a quick lunch and there was a man sitting at a booth with a cup of coffee. It was obvious he hadn’t showered in a long long time. When he got up to leave and swung his jacket around, the whiff we got just about made us barf up our food!!!
One of the items we had on our shopping list was a shade screen. We had looked at a couple online before we left, but they had these awning clips you had to reattach each time you put your awning in our out. We found another style we really liked. The upper part stays on the awning and the lower part just zips off. Works really slick and we’ve used it quite a few times already!
Prior to heading out we had replaced most all the bulbs in our RV with LED ones with the exception of the two fluorescent fixtures. We picked up a couple LED fluorescent tubes and with Rod’s handy wiring skills, as we no longer needed to use a ballast, we finally could cross that off our list.
We finally got some comfortable lawn chairs!!! Even though they won’t fit in a storage bay and we have to throw them in the trunk of the car they are awesome and we love them.
The other larger purchase we made there was adding another solar panel to our roof. We have the panel all wired in and it’s working great but Rod has a whole other plan as to how this panel will operate. He has it mounted to an articulating satellite dish motor so we can eventually add in a dual axis sun tracker. This is still a work in progress, but for now we can operate it manually using the satellite controller and it’s pretty cool.
Summing It Up
The time we spent in Quartzsite was some of the most fun and magical time we’ve had on the road thus far. It wasn’t about the place as much as it was about the people we met. Rod and I are for the most part just out here on our own and spend pretty much every moment of everyday just by ourselves. We didn’t know anyone out here and we gained new friends and a confidence in ourselves and in what we are doing. We are still keeping in touch with people we met there and it’s amazing knowing there’s a network of like minded people out there!! We look forward to future meetups and so glad we made this journey.
Where To Next
We are headed to California for a while mostly for work purposes. We even picked up a gig thanks to introductions made while we were in Quartzsite!!