Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Pilgrimage to the RV Mecca - Quartzsite, AZ

For you blog readers that are non-RV’ers (or RV newbies) let me introduce you to the RV Mecca that is Quartzsite, Arizona.   Every year thousands (and I mean like 750,000 – 1,000,000 according to the Arizona Highway Department) RV’s converge on the desert town for the annual RV show.  The show includes hundreds of vendors selling everything from RV parts and accessories to wood carvings and jewelry.  There is no shortage of stuff you can buy…rocks, tools, scarfs, flags, whirly gigs, beer can art…and yes…even RV’s.  Kind of ironic that us RV’ers that have no more space for anything are at the largest desert flea market in the world.  Didn’t we get rid of all our worldly possessions so we could RV and now we are loading back up on crap that we don’t need?  O.K., so I really did need a new vegetable peeler, bungee cord and bag of ranch flavored corn nuts.
Do you need a new awning....
or a woven basket...
or a "Woody" golf cart to drive around the campground....
or a potato sack?
There are gems everywhere for sale.
The gathering history dates back to 1984 when the QuartzsiteRV Show (officially known as the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show) opened for the first time.  The show was quite small with only 60 exhibitors and a small tent but the show was very popular and has blossomed since.  The town’s website boasts that they are the “Rock Capital of the World” which seems fitting for the copious number of large gem shows and stores that attract tourists.  All this activity (which only takes place in the few bearable winter months) is the reason the city attracts as estimated two million visitors a year. A far cry from the 3,000 or so resident population.

We wondered why the camel seemed to be the unofficial mascot of Quartzsite and did some digging.  It turns out that Quartzsite is the burial place of Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali) who was an Ottoman citizen who took part in the experimental U.S. Camel Corps as a camel driver.  The “what-kind-of-corps” you ask?  You know that failed mid-1800’s attempt by the U.S. Army to incorporate camels into their military might.  Long story short – the camels unpleasant disposition and the dislike of them by military horses cut short their service to the country. 

This beauty is made of tire rims...but she is not for sale.
We were amazed at the number of RV’s everywhere and in every size, type, shape, color, from home-made to million dollar Prevosts.  Most people boondock in the desert (which means they find an open spot and park) there are no hookups, no cable TV, no clubhouse with pool, no nothing but a lot of RV camaraderie.   Being Quartzsite virgins we opted to stay in an RV park with the creature comforts of hookups, cable, clubhouse, etc.
There are so many RV's that sometimes you can't tell what is for sale or privately owned.
After strolling through the vendors for a couple of hours we were saturated.  It was time for a taco and to wander through the RV sales section.  We are not in the market for a new RV (right Betsy?) but it is always fun to look.  Besides, we are trying to find one for Betsy’s brother Mark so he can travel with us in his off-season.  Mark what do you think of this one?

The next morning we were looking to continue our adventure so we decided to go to La Mesa RV to look at RV's and to enjoy the added benefit of a free pancake breakfast.  Our friends Gail and Matt (from Retired Voyagers blog) told us about the Readers Oasis Bookstore (a.k.a. The Naked Bookseller) in town which is famous for the owner who wears only a g-string.  But we decided not to go book shopping from a naked man after a big breakfast of pancakes.

RV’ers start your engines and make your pilgrimage!  With this experience under our belts, we are off to Palm Desert, California.


  1. Too much to see in such a short time. We have been here two weeks and our list of places to visit grows instead of getting smaller.

    1. Have you gone to the bookstore? Next time I think we will boondock and immerse ourselves in the Quartzsite experience.

  2. We found it listed online that night for a different price, 1500 less, and called Jeff the next day to share our discovery. He instantly said he would honor the lower price. Best RV Dealer in Arkansas


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