Posts Tagged ‘Quartzsite Arizona’

RVing’s Top 10

Posted on June 14th, 2010 by by Administrator

When we started fulltiming, a veteran road warrior told me that you’re not a real RVer until you have accomplished most, if not all, of what he called RVing’s Top 10 experiences. We must be slow learners, because after eleven years on the road, we still have a couple to go. So are we real RVers yet?

1 – Boondocking: To truly experience the freedom that the RV lifestyle has to offer, at least once you should spend a few days or even a week or two boondocking, also called dry camping. I define boondocking as living without being hooked up to a water source or electrical outlet, living off my RV’s systems. The feeling of independence you get when you sever the campground umbilical cord is something you must experience to understand. Whether you prefer to camp for weeks on end on BLM land in the desert or just cross the country spending the night in the parking lots of RV friendly businesses like WalMart, boondocking can save you a lot of money, and once you get used to it, it is lots of fun!

2 - Quartzsite: If you spend any time at all around fulltime or snowbird RVers, before too long someone will ask you if you have been to Quartzsite yet. Located on Interstate 10 about 125 miles west of Phoenix, Quartzsite is a sleepy little Arizona desert town of a couple hundred people most of the year. But every January, thousands and thousands of RVers descend on Quartzsite to boondock on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the surrounding desert, and to attend the big Quartzsite RV Show and the numerous flea markets, rock and gem shows, and other events held every winter. It’s big, it’s crowded, it’s dusty, and it’s fun! Some people love it and some attend once and seek quieter activities for future outings. If you have not been to Quartzsite yet, you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once.

3 – Rainbows End in Livingston, Texas: Rainbows End is the Mecca for serious RVers. National Headquarters of the Escapees RV Club, literally thousands of RVers “live” on Rainbow Drive in Livingston, the address of the Escapees Mail Service. Rainbows End includes a very nice RV park, the club’s National Headquarters, and CARE, the adult care center the Escapees created to provide assistance to retired RVers and those recuperating from illness or surgery. RVers come to Rainbows End to license their vehicles and become “legal” Texans, to tour the club’s mail forwarding service, to meet friends, and just hang out with like-minded folks.

4 – The Rally: RV rallies offer the opportunity for fun, fellowship, and education, and the biggest RV rally is the Affinity Group’s annual mega-event, known simply as The Rally. Thousands of people come to camp, shop the vendors, attend seminars, enjoy entertainment from top named performers, visit with old friends and make new ones. This year’s event will be in Louisville, Kentucky July 22 – 25.

5 – Escapade: Though not on the huge scale of The Rally, the annual Escapees Club Escapades are events no RVer should miss. You will meet lots of nice people, attend some excellent seminars, and enjoy the entertainment every evening. This year’s Escapade will be in Goshen, Indiana September 12- 17.

6 – Slab City: Located on an abandoned military base in Niland, California, Slab City is a popular gathering place every winter for RVers who come to boondock and enjoy what many call the last great bastion of freedom in America. Populated by serious RVers, snowbirds, eccentrics who live there year round, and an assortment of colorful characters, Slab City is another one of those places you either love or hate. Check it out once, and draw your own conclusions.

7 – Elkhart Indiana: Home to at least half of the RV manufacturers in the country, Elkhart, Indiana has a lot to offer RVers, from factory tours to RV surplus stores, displays of some of the earliest RVs at the RV Hall of Fame Museum, RV rallies, and lots of fun exploring the Amish countryside just east of town.

8 – Highway 101, Oregon Coast: This is surely one of the most spectacular drives in the United States, offering beautiful ocean vistas, charming fishing villages, beach combing, whale watching, lighthouses, and memories around every bend in the road.

9 – Padre Island: Every winter RVers come to Padre Island National Seashore, near Corpus Christie, Texas to dry camp at Padre Island National Seashore. A $10 annual permit is required, and water and a dump station are free. There is no time limit, and many RVers stay the entire season.

10 – The Alaska Highway: This is the ultimate RV destination for many. A trip up the Alaska Highway includes adventure, wonderful scenery, wildlife, history, and memories to last a lifetime. The road is not nearly as bad as some people would want you to believe, but the experiences you will have are more than anyone could ever describe.

Well, are you a real RVer? How many of these Top 10 can you lay claim to?

Thought For The Day – If God is willing to forgive us, why do we sometimes find it so hard to forgive ourselves?

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10 Great RV Routes

Posted on May 26th, 2010 by by Administrator

We’re getting hitch itch and are looking forward to getting back on the road in a week or two. Since we’re sitting still right now, I’ve been looking over past issues of the Gypsy Journal and thinking about some of our favorite routes from past travels. Here are my ten favorite RV routes.

Natchez Trace Parkway – They called it the Devil’s Backbone back in the days when Indians, outlaws, and renegades prowled this historic route, preying on unwary travelers But today, the Natchez Trace Parkway is pure heaven for RVers! Picture 450 miles of good two lane road that meanders through  hardwood forests and past charming small towns, with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, and no commercial traffic allowed, with frequent pullouts large enough for any size RV, and you can see why we love this historic highway that winds from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. If you haven’t put this trip on your travel itinerary, do it now. You’ll be glad you did!

trace entrance sign 4

US Highway 101 – Further south in California, this scenic route loses much of its charm, but from Eureka, California to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, US 101 will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll find anywhere in the country. Take your time, because you’ll be treated to dramatic ocean views, charming small towns, lighthouses, fishing villages, and if you’re really lucky, even whales passing by just offshore!

LoLo Pass Trail – If I had to choose my very favorite route in America, in terms of scenery, it would be US Highway 12 between Missoula, Montana and Lewiston, Idaho, which locals call the Lolo Pass Trail. The excellent two lane highway follows the route explorers Lewis and Clark took on their epic trek west, with towering mountains on one side and the beautiful Clearwater River on the other.  Keep your camera handy for an opportunity to photograph deer, elk, moose, and whitewater rafters. 

Lolo Pass River 5

US Highway 2 – If you love unspoiled forests, friendly small towns, scenic views of deep water, and a slower travel pace, you should take some time to travel US Highway 2 across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For most of the 140 miles between Escanaba on the west, and St. Ignace on the east, you’ll be passing within spitting distance of beautiful Lake Michigan. It’s a good highway, and you can make good time if you want to, but with scenery like this, why would you hurry?

Great River Road – The Great River Road is one of America’s national treasures, and a route every RVer should take at least once. From the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota,  this series of local, state, and federal roads follows the course of the river south through ten states, to where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico, introducing you to beautiful views, wonderful small towns, river barges, and history every mile of the way.

Route 66 – Much of this historic route has been swallowed up or paved over by interstate highways, but there are still many sections of the Mother Road to be explored between its origin in Chicago, Illinois and its terminus in Santa Monica, California. You could spend an entire season tracing the many alignments of this nostalgic highway by RV and with your dinghy, and still not see it all.

RV Route 66

Overseas Highway – The Overseas Highway, the southernmost leg of US Highway 1, carries you from Miami, Florida to Key West, affording views of the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Along the way, you’ll pass funky tourist towns, a dolphin sanctuary, beautiful beaches, cross over the impressive Seven Mile Bridge, and back into history. One note here, while this is a great trip, you’ll have to park your RV somewhere else at the end of your journey, because the streets in Key West, at the southern end of your route, are not suited for large vehicles.

Smather Beach boat

Old Spanish Trail – Incorporating US Highway 90 in the east and US Highway 80 in the west, the route known to old time travelers as the Old Spanish Trail, is an interesting and memorable journey that will carry you from Jacksonville Beach, Florida all the way west to San Diego, California, as you trace America’s history from coast to coast.

Lincoln Highway – The Lincoln Highway was America’s first transcontinental highway, stretching from New York to San Francisco, and though the old route has been replaced by Interstate 80, you can still drive much of the original route, especially in the east and Midwest. It’s a slow paced trip to remember.  

US Highway 60 – Beginning at an intersection with Interstate 10 in Quartzsite, Arizona, and stretching all the way to Virginia Beach, Virginia, we love to take this slow, scenic highway when we travel east from our old hometown in Show Low, Arizona. Sure, we could go north a few miles and jump on Interstate 40, but what fun would that be? We prefer to take our time, stop for lunch in small town cafes, and experience the real America that the superslab bypasses.

So there you have it, my ten favorite great RV routes. Tell us about some of yours.

Bad Nick doesn’t have hitch itch, but he is pretty ticked off at the latest rip off coming out of Washington. Check out his new Bad Nick Blog post titled Adding Insult to Injury and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day -A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.

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The Q, A Bridge, And Bad Nick

Posted on March 17th, 2010 by by Administrator

Yesterday morning we left the Yuma County Fairgrounds, our home for the last several weeks, and drove 85 miles north on U.S. Highway 95 to Quartzsite, with Greg and Jan White following us in their American Eagle. They had never been to this part of Arizona, so I played tour guide on the handheld radio, pointing out the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Yuma Proving Grounds, and Castle Dome as we motored north.

In Quartzsite we left the main highway long enough to make a half loop around town to give them a feel for the place, though there were only a handful of RVs scattered about here and there, as opposed to the thousands that cover the desert in January and February.

From Quartzsite, we continued north on State Route 95 through Parker, then along the Colorado River through what is known as the Parker Strip, a land of dramatic mountains, cool water, and scenic beauty. I always love this drive, it’s a good two lane road, with plenty of pullouts if you need them. However, unlike past trips in our old MCI bus conversion, we didn’t need them. The Cummins diesel engine powered us right up the hills without blinking an eye!

Arriving  in Lake Havasu City, we parked both rigs at the Elks lodge, and I went inside to obtain permission to leave them there for a couple of hours, while Greg unhooked his Dodge pickup. Seeing the London Bridge was on Jan’s bucket list, so we drove across it, and then back again, then we parked and got out to see the historic bridge and checked out the shops in the small English themed village in the bridge’s shadow.

London Bridge shops

It must be Spring Break, because later on Greg told me that there were some pretty young ladies in skimpy bikinis and other revealing clothing. I didn’t notice them at all, because I was busy taking pictures of Miss Terry, and I only have eyes for her.

Terry London Bridge 

We grabbed a quick snack at Dairy Queen, then got back on the road and drove another 23 miles north, to hook up with Interstate 40. We took the interstate a few miles west to Exit 1, then got onto a narrow two lane road that had more nasty twists and turns than a politician’s biography. I’m sure Greg and Jan, following along faithfully behind, wondered just what kind of an adventure this crazy man was taking them on, and Miss terry uttered a reservation or two herself. But, eventually the road smoothed out, we rejoined State Route 95 through the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, and came in to Bullhead City, where we crossed the Colorado River into Laughlin, Nevada.

Harrah’s Casino in Laughlin has an RV parking area where you can dry camp for $5/night, or $25/week, but every other casino seemed to have signs advertising free dry camping, so what’s up with that? We saw lots of RVs dry camping in designated parking lots at casinos all through town.

We stopped for the night at the River Palms Casino, which has a free dry camping area high on a hill, with great views of the casino lights below. Security told us we could get a free permit to stay up to 14 days. Then we would need to renew the permit, but we could do so for as long as we wanted to.   

River Palms Laughlin 2

We registered, parked our motorhomes, then headed back to the casino for dinner. If you join their free Players Club, you get a free T-shirt, and on Monday and Tuesday nights, two prime rib buffets were $9.95 with the Players Club card.

The line to register for the Players Club was long, and the line for the buffet was even longer. I must have been tired and cranky. Or else the bunch of French Canadians in line in front of us just ticked me off when they let some of their friends cut in ahead of us. People in line started to grumble, and Bad Nick emerged and told them that was bulls&%# and to go to the back of the line. Two did, but one lady stood firmly and said “These are my friends!” I told her that Greg was my friend, but if he tried that crap, I’d throw him out of line too!

One of the guys in their group turned around and told me in very good English it was okay, she was with him. I assured him that it wasn’t okay, and that the next time I came to his country, I’d be sure to be a rude jerk too, He gave me that smirk some folk use when they think they are being funny,  and played the old “I don’t understand English” thing with me. I told him that I knew that he understood me very well, and that he understood exactly what I thought of him and his crowd. I’m sure I embarrassed Miss Terry, Greg, and Jan, but once in a while somebody has to stand up on their hind legs and tell the jerks of the world where to get off. Besides the only place more dangerous to be than between a mama bear and her cubs is between a fat man and his food!

Today we plan to leave early and continue on to Las Vegas. Our leveling jacks are acting up again, and would not work when we arrived in Laughlin. Hopefully we can get that issue resolved in Las Vegas, and then just play tourist and relax for a while. 

Thought For The Day - Only dead fish go with the current.

Do The Q

Posted on January 11th, 2010 by by Administrator

It’s that time of year again. Thousands of RVers are headed for the tiny town of Quartzsite, Arizona to take part in the annual gathering that is best described as Woodstock For Grownups. Some people will tell you that you’re not a real RVer until you “Do the Q!”

They come to dry camp in the desert, to shop the small vendors scattered around town, to browse the Big Tent and see even more vendor offerings, to meet up with old friends, and just to hang out and enjoy the desert sunshine.

If you have not been to Quartzsite, it should be on your personal Bucket List. It’s not for everybody, but everybody should experience it at least once. 

Quartzsite 2008 5th wheel cactusWe’ve been to Quartzsite several times, and to be honest, it’s gotten worse over the years, and I think it will continue to decline. The town fathers want to turn it into their own version of Palm Springs, and their greed has pushed many of the small vendors out as they are replaced with big RV dealerships paying big taxes.

During the last two weeks of January, traffic is terrible in town, and many find it easier to walk or ride bicycles than to try and negotiate the constant gridlock on the two main streets in town, one north of Interstate 10 and one south.

In case I’m sounding negative, let’s not forget the fact that there are few places to shop locally, so one must bring in everything they need, or be prepared to drive a half hour or more to Parker, Arizona or Blythe, California for much of anything. Except for big crowds of people, you won’t find anything in the Big Tent you can’t find buy from vendors at other RV rallies, and usually for less money. Even out in the middle of nowhere, petty thievery is not uncommon – every year folks lose bicycles and portable generators. And did I mention the dust that permeates every corner of your RV after a few days in the desert?

By now you must be asking yourself “Why the heck would I ever want to go to Quartzsite?” The answer is simple, the pluses far outweigh the negatives for many RVers.

In Quartzsite, you will learn to get the most out of your RV’s self-contained features. Even if you don’t think you will spend much time boondocking, it’s still handy to know how to do so in a pinch. You never know when you’ll be stuck for a few days at an RV repair shop waiting for parts and repairs. RVs boondocking 6

You have never experienced a sunset like you’ll see in the Arizona desert, and that alone makes it worth a trip to Quartzsite. Once the sun goes down, a million stars fill the sky, shining like so many diamonds. At night you will be serenaded by coyotes as you drop off to sleep, and the next morning you are treated to the sound of doves cooing their wake up call. These are memories you’ll never make in a regular RV park

Of course, the people you will meet are the greatest thing about Quartzsite. It attracts everybody from bluegrass pickers to hikers, rock hounds to four wheel drive enthusiasts, born again Christians to pagans. They even have an out of the way corner of the desert reserved for nudists, called the Magic Circle! You’re as likely to have neighbors in half-million dollar Prevost custom coaches as in homebuilt bus conversions, as well as any and every type of new and vintage RV ever conceived. And they’re all there to do the same thing as you are, just to be a part of it all.

You may go once and decide that it’s not for you, or like many of our RVing friends, you may fall in love with the place, and return every winter to “Do the Q.”

Thought For The Day – Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.

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Weekend Campers And Laser Guns

Posted on June 29th, 2009 by by Administrator

With summer in full swing, and gas prices way down from this time last year, a lot of RVs are on the go. We’re expecting a full house here at Elkhart Campground next weekend for the 4th of July holiday.

As fulltimers, we learned early on that campgrounds fill up fast on holiday weekends during the summer. So we always try to find a place to settle in during the middle of the week and stay put until the next Tuesday or so, to let all of the weekend warriors do their thing and then get back home.

Every once in a while when I complain about weekend campers, someone thinks I am looking down on people who are still living in sticks and bricks houses and can only do their camping on weekends and vacations.

Not at all! We have met many, many wonderful RVers who are not fulltimers or extended time travelers. They have made fine campground neighbors. My problem is with jerks that make noise after hours, allow their kids and dogs to run wild, don’t know how to build a campfire that is not a smudge pot, and ruin the experience for everybody around them.

There are plenty of clods in the fulltime lifestyle too, unfortunately. I remember a group of Bluebird owners in Quartzsite, Arizona two years ago who felt it necessary to blow their musical horns over and over again, serenading everybody around them, whether we wanted to listen or not. And we have had more than our share of fulltimer neighbors with yappy little mutts they think they are just precious and that everybody wants to hear their never ending barking. Bad manners are bad manners, and jerks are jerks, whether they live in RVs or traditional houses.

With the new issue of the Gypsy Journal in the mail, Terry and I have some slack time, but we always find plenty of ways to keep busy. The heat wave has abated a bit, so we may find some place to put our kayaks in the water and do some paddling.

Speaking of the high temperatures that have baked much of the nation, longtime Gypsy Journal reader Richard Prevallet suggested I mention a laser thermometer as a valuable tool to have in any RV. I’ve used one for years. They come in handy to check RV tires and wheel hubs when traveling to alert you to a possible problem before it gets out of hand.

Now that I have a PressurePro system to monitor my tires, I don’t use the laser thermometer as much for that, but I still shoot my wheel hubs when we pull into a rest stop. I also use it to check the surface temperature on our twin radiators. You can get a good quality laser thermometer for $50 or less at Sears, Harbor Freight and any other tool outlet.

Digital laser thermometers, also called laser guns, are simple to use. All you have to do is point the red laser dot at what you want to measure and push the button, and then read the digital display. It’s so simple even I can do it!

Thought For The Day – I am a nutritional overachiever.

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