Or so they say. According to the Internet, the population of this tiny town situated alongside a very boring stretch of Hwy 10 about 20 miles from the boarder of CA, swells to nearly 1 million people (most in RVs) during the winter months. Mind you this is not because of the town itself, which honestly is not much to look at, but for the ongoing rock, gem & mineral shows, plus the numerous flea markets and swap meets, not to mention the annual RV, Sports & Vacation show. Lucky for us this also might just be the boondocking capital of the southwest, which means there is no shortage of places to park your RV despite the mind blowing number of RVers who are crowding the town. Following the advice of those rock star boondockers Nina & Paul, upon arrival we headed to a BLM area called Dome Rock Mountain on the west side of town and found ourselves a relatively private, relatively quiet, place to call home for the week.
The picture may look pretty, and we’re happy here for the week, but honestly just like the town where it resides, Dome Rock is not likely to win the most scenic award anytime soon. It’s mostly gravel, dusty roads, and scrubby looking shrubs. What it does have going for it is a bit of that stark desert magic, along with some pretty awesome mountain silhouettes off in the distance. The best part is that we’re finally back in the land of what might just be the coolest cactus ever. The mighty saguro. We spent quite a bit of time among these giants last year as we traveled through Arizona and I am thoroughly enamored of them. Admittedly the population of saguros here in Quartzsite is far more sparse than in other parts of the state, and the majority seem to be on the younger side with only one or two tiny arms, or often none at all. Quick fact: Most Saguaros don’t grow any arms until they are at least 15 years old. Regardless, it’s still nice to see them again and I even managed to find this one granddaddy with many arms while I was out one morning watching the sunrise.
Not all of the Dome Rock BLM area is as open and uncluttered as what you see at our spot. Quartzsite is not only the place were RVs come to camp, it’s where they come to gather. Which means many, many groups of tightly circled RVs can be spotted out here in the desert. Out here at Dome Rock the majority of clustered RVs are parked alongside the main road where the access is easiest and the terrain is flattest.
You can also find a lot of open space far away from the main road. I rode my bike down this one road and was puzzled as to why not a single RV was parked out here in what looks to me to be some pretty prime real estate.
Enough about all of that though, let’s talk about the show. I have to admit that when we first heard about Quartzsite and the RV show neither of us had any desire to attend. Too many people, too many RVs, and too much stuff. We don’t need more stuff. Part of the reason why we live in this tiny 25′ Airstream is because it naturally leads to a life of minimalism. A small space equals less stuff, which leads to a simpler lifestyle where we can focus on collecting experiences instead of things. Except that we ended up here anyway! Part of the reason was because we’re due to arrive in Phoenix next week and as we were coming from Borrego Springs, this happened to be the halfway point. Another reason was curiosity. Everyone says you have to go Quartzsite once just to see what it’s all about. So we did.
The show is split into two general areas. The big tent where the official RV, Sports & Vaction Show is held, and the Tyson Wells RV show which is basically just a giant flea market where you can buy far more than just RV related items. We found the big tent pretty uninspiring and breezed through the isles filled with miracle RV cleaning solutions, magical massage chairs, old-person scooters, and sales reps hawking memberships to high-end RV resorts, in a very short amount of time. From there we wandered around outside for bit ducking in and out of the new fifth wheels and motorhomes that were on display. It’s always fun to look at the new RVs, but we’re still of the opinion that until the RV manufacturers improve their decor and fabrics, we would never, ever buy a brand new RV. After all of that we finally found our way to the swap meet/flea market area and that’s where the real fun began. I am not even going to try to describe all that we saw, but I did take a ton of photos so hopefully this seemingly random collection of images will portray the dizzying array of merchandise for sale.
Finally there is the rock, gem & mineral side of things. It’s my impression that is a year-round, on-going thing in Quartzsite, and most of these shops and booths are here all the time and not just in the winter months. I really love rocks, but once again living in such a small space is really not conducive to a carrying around a collection of large rocks and crystals. Too bad, because there were some really, really stunning rocks with very reasonable prices. Here’s a tiny taste of what we saw.
Despite what I’ve been saying about small spaces, living simply and all that, we did end up making a few purchases. First was a flag pole. We’ve wanted one of these for awhile now, and after passing by a few booths selling them for over $100 we finally settled on a 20-foot pole that telescopes down to about 4-feet, for $50. It even came with a flag. According to the Googles this is a good deal and we’re pretty happy with our purchase.
As often happens, this one purchase led to another. The guy at the flag booth mentioned that we could get a windsock extension pole for only fifteen more dollars. Of course we had to get it- and a windsock too. If we were ever in danger of losing the Airstream in a crowd, no more. I am pretty sure you can see this super tall pole and 20-foot rainbow colored windsock from space.
Our other purchases were a folding shovel, a telescoping rake, a set of silicon bowl/pot lids, some sort of piece that goes with our sewer hose, a few $1 items from the kitchen tent, a couple of things that are destined to be gifts for family members, and a metal W (look for it in the second collage of show photos above). Tim has grand plans involving some paint and LED lights for this W, which I will be sure to share when the project is complete. In the midst of all this shopping we’ve also managed to fit in some social time.
First we met up with Brenda & Hector from the Island Girl blog. I’ve been following their blog for about a year now, so when they contacted us to say they were also at Dome Rock and did we want to meet up, the answer of course was yes! We biked over one evening for a few hours of chatting and snacking. Of course I didn’t take any pictures. Next we attended a meet & greet hosted by the always social Nina & her side-kick Paul. Take note travel bloggers: this is what happens when your blog is so fantastic that you become famous in the RV world. So many people contacted Nina & Paul asking to meet them that they decided the best way to see everyone was to host an open, public gathering. Even though we’ve already met these celebrities, we decided to go along to see who else we could meet. It ended being a great little gathering with folks trickling in and out for few hours. It was a great time had by all.
We still have a few more days here before we depart for Phoenix on Sunday. As of right now we have no plans to go back to the show before we leave. But then again you never know, we might decide that we need to buy that 3-foot tall geode after all.