Last week we ventured into the RV Mecca/pilgrimage that is Quartzsite, Arizona where the town’s population explodes in the winter from around 4,000 to over 175,000 recreational vehicles (RVs) with over a million visitors.
This oddity occurs because of the warmth of the Arizona winters and the plentiful BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property where taxpaying citizens can wild camp (sometimes called “boondocking”) on the dusty, rocky grounds at no cost for 14 days at a time.
Cottage industries of RV service, sales and gadgets galore sprung up over the years to serve this audience hungry for more power (solar, batteries, inverters), less waste (shower heads, storage) and well, things to tinker and fix. Most RVers visiting Quartzsite are retirees, mostly full-timers (but some part-timers) so most shoppers there have time to invent problems to solve. And if you’ve followed our travels so far this past year in our new RV, then you know it’s not to hard to create your own problems pretty quickly in an RV.
I am always mixed on tent shows with rolling caravans of sales people and products. I’m used to Amazon reviews and liberal return policy so buying something without a review and the ability to return is not exciting. On the other hand, as student of people and behavior, it’s a fun place to watch! But I was pleasantly surprised at our shopping in Quartzsite. Sure we walked by several booths of nonsense. And many more booths about products that were interesting to see, but frankly more expensive than Amazon and most solved problems we didn’t have. And that is when we rolled into “An RVer’s Friend” booth owned by Smitty and Louise. What a treat they were – a husband and wife team.
Louise was super sweet and helped me solve an aggravating outside lightbulb problem. Most of our lightbulbs were LED from the factory with the exception of luggage, closet and exterior lights. And our exterior lights kept burning up – almost as if there was a short. So Louise hooked me up with some great LED bulbs that rotate to allow us to focus the light down. Three weeks later and they are still going strong!
As I wrapped with Louise, Smitty jumped in showing what looked like “sales prowess”. He pointed out that with “4 daughters with their beautiful, long hair” how shampooing and rinsing must be quite a problem. I turned to ask the girls and sure enough, they nodded with enthusiasm. “I’m just a stupid guy,” I thought so I listened and learned as Smitty showed me a new shower head that injects air into the water, creating more pressure to rinse better while still using LESS water. As avid wild campers, he had my attention. So long story-short, I bought it, installed it and the results have been amazing on all accounts. So his “sales prowess” was nothing more than acute awareness of problems I didn’t yet know I had – then he solved them. And of course, I hopped on Amazon when we got back to the RV and I’ll be damned, the Amazon cost was higher and the review were amazing.
And the camping at Quartzsite was just as fun and rewarding. My parents invited us this year to join their second pilgrimage. Last year, they joined the crazies and came out of it with great memories, great stories and some great new friends. It sounded like the unimaginable place that it is. When we arrived, they invited us to join their camp “circle” – many friends come together and band their RVs in a circle forming a small campsite neighborhood. Surprisingly, the neighbors accepted us which is not easy as we are as green as grass, learning the ropes, and cautiously but certainly actively using our generator more than most.
We were forewarned that our neighbors were not necessarily big fans of children. Uh oh. But in the end, I think they realized why we have a reputation and why I am recognized as a behavioral/relationship expert. We’re certainly not perfect, but you learn pretty quickly around us that we don’t plant seed for drama but instead, communication, work and fun – well, most of the time we get it right. 😉 Our neighbors/hosts really embraced the children and loved that they weren’t glued to electronics – one of our new friends even took the opportunity and time to teach the youngest girls (ages 8 and 10) how to knit!
All of our neighbors were amazing and great hosts. They were so generous with their time even taking me to the solar shop to learn about and then purchase our new RV solar package which we are self-installing this week. And it was quite fun sitting around some amazing fires each night with some color packets and great Mexican brandy to warm the bones.
During the week, our hosts invited us and the kids out to a fun music hall where some classic country musicians shared the stage and showed of some great talent. Our kids were the only kids they’ve seen in, well, a long time if ever so they made quite the fuss over them. I stayed back and worked with my LifeMAPP team so I heard all about it and we were invited back for the next show a few days later. It was then the girls and I were invited to the stage to sing, not something they usually do so we felt very honored.
If you have an RV, if you travel in the West, you really should check it out if nothing more than just people-watching. If you wild camp, then Quartzsite is a must.
One note: the closest tank maintenance was on the main road called “The Pit Stop” and they mean it. It’s setup with their own hoses and with multiple stations (or “pits”). Our first pit stop was, err, rough. Their sewage hose had small holes in it. Go ahead, use your imagination. Then I mistakenly used a non-potable water source for only a minute which resulted in us bleach-sanitizing our entire water system. We needed to learn how to do that anyway. So if you hit the pit stop: 1) dump at one station, 2) fill at the next station, then 3) turn around and hit the propane if you need it.