Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quartzsite: A HUGE flea market

January 19, 2012—Many years ago my sister took me to the Orange County (California) Swap Meet. I had never seen anything like it before—acres upon acres of venders selling all types of things out of tents— luggage, purses (including knock offs of famous brands), dresses, tie-dyed t-shirts, brushes, combs, scarves, belts, boots, shoes, bicycles, tricycles, and baby carriers. And the food! Pizza, tacos, hot dogs, sausage, kettle corn, ice cream, soda…and anything you could think of that could be deep-fried.

I don’t remember if I bought anything at that swap meet, but I got hooked. I love to go to flea markets and roam the aisles and tents. Jim does too. He and I go to Beach Blvd. Flea Market in Jacksonville regularly. It’s where we buy charcoal and flavored tobacco for our hookah, batteries for our watches ($5 installed), and tomatillos for green salsa. Last year when we bought “Baby,” we needed a VCR to watch the video that gave an overview, we found one for $15 at the flea market. And just a couple of weeks ago, we found a replacement bicycle ($30) for me for the one that was ruined by the Palm Tree Incident in December. (See Palm Trees,

We had heard that Quartzsite in January was something that every RVer needed to experience. We read that there were several shows—a couple rock and mineral shows and a big RV show—during January, and that up to a million RVers congregated and camped on BLM lands surrounding the town. Other than that, we did not know what to expect.

The best way to describe Quartzsite is that it is the hugest flea market I’ve ever seen, reminiscent with its makeshift storefronts of the gold-rush mining towns of the old west.

The tents are pitched along the main town streets and supplement a few “regular” stores. (Yes, Quartzsite is a real town, with year-round inhabitants. Its population just swells to beyond capacity during the winter. The regular stores we saw include an RV repair place, a couple of restaurants, a grocery, a Beall’s Outlet, and a Family Dollar, plus a couple of gas stations.) It extends so far in every direction that Jim and I only covered about one-quarter of it today, and we are exhausted. (We had to come home and take a nap!)

Who buys from these venders? People from all over the country—especially those from cold climates. I saw license plates from Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Nevada—and that was just in one block.

People are pouring in here. Some stay at RV “resorts,” which have permanent mobile homes as well as spots for RVs. Most, like us, stay in the desert, on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. You can camp for 14 days free of charge of BLM land. (The government charges a fee for long-term camping in designated areas.)

We arrived yesterday afternoon about 4 p.m. A campsite host welcomed and registered us and answered questions we had concerning emptying our waste tanks and getting fresh water. A few minutes later, we drove a short distance and chose our campsite. We could have driven far into the desert, but we opted for a level area not too far from the road. (If we don’t like it, we can move!)
Since our arrival, we have seen many new arrivals. The most popular type of RV seems to be Class A motorhomes, followed by 5th wheels. The neighborhood is growing fast!

We’re getting settled in. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about dry camping.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,


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