Where to begin? Well first off I should say, we are newbies here and all of the following are our experiences and impressions, YMMV. I have no doubt with more time under my belt, I will know more, but wanted to capture these thoughts while they are fresh.
After the initial flurry of welcomes, you start to get settled in. One nice thing is people give you plenty of room to do just that. We have started a little RV-Dreams enclave over here, but we are also trying to not sit on top of each other. I do see these little groups though all over the place and they are so close they are almost touching. Not sure what that is all about. I get the desire to be close for comfort, but it’s a big huge area and for us kind of the whole point is to not be on top of one another like at some campgrounds. Still, to each his own, and for all I know there is a reason people group together so closely. People are starting to trickle in though and I am glad I built my rock “front yard”. Folks so far have respected that boundary and it has given us some space in front of us. I feel bad for this guy in a little trailer sort of next door who has been here since October, he started out all by himself and now is slowly being surrounded. We tried to maintain some distance, but a small group of Class A’s parked practically on his doorstep. I think part of the problem is people don’t realize how far back the land goes. (We are about one mile in on the main LTVA artery, and it goes at least another 3 miles or more.) They see other folks camping, and say “here’s a good place to stop”. Plus, the closer you are to the front, the closer you are to the trash, dump station, water, and restrooms. Personally, I like the spots in the back closer to the mountains, but I hear those can be much dustier since they are closer to the ATV trails. We are sort of in the middle and as first timers it was great to have someone pick the spot for us.
I am thrilled that they have these things available and am a big fan of La Posa South because of that. You can stay in more remote areas for the same price and drive here to use these facilities, but as “first timers” it is nice having them on the same property. And of course you can’t beat the price of $40 for two weeks, or $180 for 8 months. Despite our best efforts we generate a lot of trash and our plan to separate and burn the paper products has not been possible because it has just been too windy. Although many folks only shower every other day, we both take short showers daily and so we use more water. Draining the water is not a big deal though for us, because Lee doesn’t mind using the Blue Boy to empty the grey tank (black tank is another story). I have tried to cut down on water for washing dishes by using the Dawn Foam Pump . You put the foam directly on the sponge and then only really need water to rinse. Plus it gets the dishes extremely clean, which is very important to Lee. The only other water issue we have is for drinking water. The water is potable (I brush my teeth with it), but so far I am using bottled water to drink. At $1 for a huge bottle of water it’s more of an inconvenience than a monetary consideration at this point, but I will try filling the jugs up directly at the pump at some point. We don’t have filters because water has been great everywhere that we have stayed, but we will re-evaluate if that changes. Filling up the water has been interesting. We carry 250 feet of fresh water hose and in every campground where we didn’t have water at the site, this was enough to run hose to the nearest water spigot. Obviously that isn’t possible here, so Lee bought a 50 gallon collapsible rain barrel. The hardware store here sells hard plastic 50 gallon water barrels with fittings, for $50, which many people invest in for transporting water and then leave behind, but we wanted something we could take with us. Unfortunately, the collapsible version is top heavy when filled and as soon as Lee started to move the truck the collapsible barrel tipped over and about a third spilled out. Our friends Red and Jim have co-invested in the hard barrels and Lee thinks he will chip in and just borrow those as needed since it seems easier.
Power is the other big resource and is especially important when you need computers for work. We have a wonderful solar setup (thanks to RV Solar Solutions) and on sunny days we are generating more power than we are using, so not only are we able to run the computer all day, we are also charging our batteries for using the computer and TV after dark. Of course it can’t keep up on cloudy days though and we have had an abnormally large amount of those. When it’s cloudy it’s also colder, and the combination of extra heat and power generation with the propane generator costs about $10 a day when it is severely cold and rainy. Thankfully we have started to experience more sunny days and the $10 days have been minimal. The good news here though is propane is selling at $1.99 a gallon, which is the lowest we have seen so far on the road. We have paid upwards of $3.29 a gallon in certain places, so we are certainly not complaining about the price. I just hate the extra money, even though rationally I know $10 a day for a campsite is still an excellent deal, but if it was going to be cold and rainy for an extended period of time, I would just as soon be on full hookups.
The other issue is the heat. It has been cold here in comparison to Florida and I draw the line at being low on resources and cold. So we do run the heat at night for our regular furnace set at 67. The thermostat is in the warmest part of the house, so 67 equals 63 in the living room and about 65 in the bedroom. We gave away our big comforter last summer because it was taking up a ton of space and seeing little use so we have an electric blanket (which we have enough power to turn on briefly to warm the bed before going to sleep), a thin comforter and our throw blankets. Lee and I are also both wearing flannel pajamas and there definitely is more cuddling for warmth. Even though we brought a trucks worth of wood with us, because of the unseasonable cold additional wood at a reasonable price is hard to find, so we can’t really use fires in the mornings and every evening to provide warmth. Many of the more experienced boondockers are using small propane heaters (which are more efficient) to heat rooms, but they make me nervous. I may change my mind about that if the propane bills start racking up, but for right now this is working for us.
I think the big misconception about boondocking is you have no services at all, which freaks many people out. Water, power, heat are all available, but you need to invest in infrastructure, change some patterns of behavior, and do a little extra work. Most importantly in my mind, is you can have limits and let’s not forget our homes are on wheels. If things get really bad, we can always pick up and move. That’s sort of the whole point. Oh, and its not a competition. When our friends Deb and Steve said they went 5 weeks without emptying the black tank I was simultaneously very proud of them and ashamed of myself because, why couldn’t I go 5 weeks? Well, their black tank is bigger, they employ tank savings techniques I am not willing to do at this time, and who knows, maybe they poop less! Seriously, everyone is different and it is totally fine to have individual limits when boondocking just like anywhere else. Not much different than any other campground. Some people can’t tolerate barking dogs or lots of kids, others couldn’t care less. Some have to have wide spaces for satellite signal others like heavily forested campsites. The variation is infinite and finding ways to live in Quartzsite is no different.
Aside from settling into boon docking and watching resource use there is also the social aspect of Quartzsite. Despite the large groups of campers this has a totally different vibe than a rally or most campgrounds. Unlike a rally where one group gets together, there are numerous RV groups here and people tend to float between the groups, often moving their rig to spend some time with one group and then moving onto another. If you don’t want to physically move, almost everyone does happy hours and encourages folks to come and meet. RVillage has been a great tool for setting up group meetings as it has the ability to setup an electronic “get together” and then invite folks who can in turn RSVP. The abundance of ways to communicate though might actually be a disadvantage. Folks are communicating via text, Facebook Messenger, RVillage, Forums, and email. Unfortunately not everyone uses every type of communication so there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to let everyone know if something is happening. The safest thing to do actually is walk around and knock on people’s campers and let them know, but then when folks are out they don’t get invited. Don’t get me wrong these get togethers are pretty casual, but you hate to think you might be inadvertently leaving people out. Plus the inefficiency of it drives me crazy 🙂 So I am still trying to figure out the “rules” and don’t kid yourself there are rules. We may be all living in glorified trailers in the middle of the desert, but since the dawn of time when a group of people gathered for anything social norms start to form. If you don’t want to worry about all that, you can find a quiet peace of BLM land away from everyone and totally do your own thing, but you really would be missing out on a huge piece of what makes Quartzsite what it is. The opportunity for like minded people to gather, share information, and talk to other who really get what the full timing lifestyle is about.
In the daytime folks seem to largely do their own thing. Some have ATV’s (tons of trails here), some like to hike, site-see, or just hang out and relax. Quartzsite itself, for such a small town, has things to do as well. There is a community center and the Quartzsite Improvement Association both of which have free classes throughout the week. I went to a Yoga class with Pam and some of us are doing a line dancing class this week and it’s a great way to get away from the rig for awhile. The classes are not available the 10 days of the big show though as they are using the buildings for other things, another great reason to come and stay here in the weeks surrounding the show. At night you can always see folks out watching the sunset. It’s different every night and the colors are very pretty against the mountains.
And of course there is the big show itself, although this is also a little confusing. There are multiple shows running through January and February. Currently there is a rock/mineral show, then the RV show, then a swap show and finally an arts and craft show. Plus there are vendors here in tents kind of everywhere. We went over to the rock and mineral show and it was ok. Not much RV stuff and you really have to be careful on prices. It had a funky vibe too with all kinds of people mingling together and I wasn’t that crazy about it. Maybe I’ve lost my joy of aimless shopping since we don’t need much and are trying to watch our money, but it wasn’t that fun. I am hoping that the big RV show is better because those vendors target our demographic. This week’s been all about getting acclimated, Lee having the flu which was not fun, and my working on my new website page abut ways to generate revenue on the road. Hopefully this week will involve better weather and getting out more to see some nature. And finally in case you were wondering I don’t miss my job at all. There are aspects of the work itself that I miss occasionally, but I am completely surprised by how quickly I adjusted. Now I say that when the buy-out checks are still coming in until March. The big test will be how I feel when the checks stop rolling in, but for now I am really enjoying myself!! And here’s some random pictures I took this week that I just had to share. This is a quirky place and it’s only fair to represent that as well.
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