Snowbirds Begin Migrating North

It’s the time of year when the seasons change and snowbirds are flocking, to fly north.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: West Valley Icon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
White Tank Mountain Regional Park: West Valley Icon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All signs point to spring: warm winds, green budding trees, desert wildflowers, spring break, and snowbirds heading north.

Snowbirds enjoy Sunbelt winters, but they also like to have a bit of spring as well.

For many non-snowbirds who weathered another bitterly cold northern winter, the change of seasons is a welcome one.

Spring Break: Transition Time For Snowbirds

Spring break marks the transition time when most snowbirds return north and families head south, tired of the cold and looking for a place to thaw.

But there is a group, or perhaps a subset of a group, myself included, that experiences the opposite. Our enjoyment of a warm winter is now turning to angst as we contemplate the return to our northern home.

Snowbirds ask: Is it over already?

Many snowbirds are staying longer and there are more of them.

Saguaro Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights
Saguaro Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights

Snowbirds began the migration process several weeks ago returning to their northern homes. Some will stay a week or two more before commencing their journey north.

As snowbirds set out for home a question is often asked: “Is it over already?”

While reflecting about the past winter season, it has gone by very quickly.

Leaving the Southwest

We’ve been meandering around the Desert Southwest since December, enjoying a fabulous and temperate winter in a variety of RV parks and resorts in California and Arizona. Many amazing places visited and awesome adventures. The days were filled with numerous events, activities, and happenings in Snowbird Land—and writing about them.

The early and late winter season found us in the Coachella Valley enjoying the Southern California sunshine, discovering the beauty and diversity of the area, and indulging the palate in tasty tamales and other south-of-the border treats—and the famous Coachella Medjool dates.

Mexican gold poppies, lupins, and brittle bush at Picacho State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights
Mexican gold poppies, lupins, and brittle bush at Picacho State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Day trips included the Coachella Valley Preserve, a desert oasis with palm groves, a diverse trail system, and the historic Palm House, and Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, a Hopi-inspired pueblo nestled in the scenic hills of Desert Hot Springs. Our home base was the 5-star Indian Waters RV Resort in Indio.

Arizona is a destination like no other. Arizona has everything: Lakes and mountains, forests and rivers. Mostly, though, Arizona has desert. Acres and acres of desert. Dee-lightful desert.

We divided out time between Arizona Oasis RV Resort on the Colorado River at Ehrenberg, Leaf Verde RV Resort at Buckeye, and two parks in Casa Grande: Sundance 1 and Casa Grande RV Resorts. All 5-star RV parks and excellent bases for exploring the beauties of the Sonoran Desert.

Selected highlights include Quartzsite and the Quartzsite RV Show; White Tanks, Estrella Mountain, Buckeye Hills, Usery Mountain, and McDowell Mountain regional parks (Maricopa County); The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert; Picacho Peak State Park; Saguaro Lake, Four Peaks Wilderness; Queen Valley; and Pinal Parkway.

A distinguishing characteristic of the Sonoran Desert are desert wildflowers but they can be as rare as they are beautiful. Nature lovers know that they must rush out to catch a bloom whenever it occurs, because they may not get another opportunity for ten or more years.

Globe Mellow and saguaro at The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert   © Rex Vogel, all rights
Globe Mellow and saguaro at The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert © Rex Vogel, all rights

Furthermore, what triggers these floral fireworks extravaganzas is still very much a mystery and predicting a good bloom is nearly impossible until it’s about to begin. In a word, for beautiful scenes of desert wildflowers, this past season was one of the best in memory.

Northern bound

But spring has sprung, and we’re now we’re northern bound.

Thoughts of homes and family left behind become the focus for looking ahead.

OK, gotta get busy cleaning and stowing!

Worth Pondering…

To all, safe travels, keep your wheels on the road, and drive safely.

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Quartzsite Plans GRAND Gathering 2015

The 2nd Annual GRAND Gathering, the World’s Largest Gathering of Grand Parents and Great-Grand Parents, is planned for Quartzsite from March 6 to 8.

Grand Gathering 2015-Sponsored by the Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA), Grand Gathering 2015 will be a celebration of grandparents, great grandparents, and family.

The Grand Gathering 2015 is themed “The Legacy” and features creating important information to pass on to family members. Live entertainment, special events, food, and vendors complement the event.

The Legacy offers free seminars, which take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, to provide information about:

  • Creating a family tree
  • Family lore: Recording family stories to be related to current family members and future generations
  • Health History: Documenting the health conditions of various family members over time to facilitate informed, quality health care to younger family members
  • “The Five Wishes”:  Preparing key documentation for establishing individual health care directives.

ALL EVENTS will be at the Quartzsite Improvement Assoc. (QIA)

Friday, March 6, 2015

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.: Health Fair sponsored by La Paz Regional Hospital and La Paz County Health Department

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.: Legacy Activities (Family Tree, Family Lore Video, Family Health History, etc.)

11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.: Bar-B-Q Lunch

6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: QIA 50th Anniversary Commemoration and Dinner (the people and major events involved in creating Quartzsite’s first non-profit organization will be capsulized in an evening of good food and fun)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.: Breakfast by QIA

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.: Legacy Activities (Outside tents)

9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Craft Fair (Main Hall)

11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.: Bar-B-Q Lunch

7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.: Quartzsite Senior Prom (Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra performs live; Bill Tole directing the orchestra and Nancy Knorr performing as a vocalist)

tgg-flyer-11-10-14Note: Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra Tickets Available; RESERVED ADVANCE SEATING ONLY; less than 500 Seats Available (Phone: 928-927-6325; office is open 9 a.m.-Noon)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.: Legacy Activities (Outside tents)

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: QIA Brunch

1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Paul Winer Concert (Main Hall)

4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.: Community Church Service (Main Hall)

The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) is the sponsoring organization for the Grand Gathering 2015 – The Legacy.  For the last 50 years, funds have been raised through QIA-sponsored activities to support the town of Quartzsite and local organizations by providing equipment and donations toward identified needs.

What is Quartzsite?

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 17 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million and a half visitors each winter who converge on this sleepy desert town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra Directed by Bill Tole in Quartzsite, March 7, 2015
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra Directed by Bill Tole in Quartzsite, March 7, 2015

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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2015 Quartzsite Show Dates Announced

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 17 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10.

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite for protection against Indian raids and to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite was established in 1867 and incorporated in 1989. A rock hunter’s paradise surrounds Quartzsite with agates, limonite cubes, gold, and quartz being just a few. Named Quartzite because quartz was occasionally found in the area, the name evolved to Quartzsite through an error in spelling.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million and a half visitors each winter who converge on this sleepy desert town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.
Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In town, the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. To the south rise the Kofa Mountains. Historic and scenic areas include the Spanish Wall, Crystal Hill, Tyson Tanks, and Tyson Wells Museum. South in the Kofa Mountains is Palm Canyon, a tight gorge and home of Arizona’s only native palms, reached by a steep but rewarding climb. Farther south is Castle Dome Peak.

Tyson Wells Show History

Tyson Wells began with an open lot where an RV Park was developed; the Sell-A-Rama Show started in 1978.

Soon Tyson Wells became known as a leading Rock & Gem Show in the United States. Later, additional land was acquired for more parking, and two more shows—Rock & Gem Show and Art & Craft Fair—were added.

the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert.
the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park.

The Quartzsite Shows

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

The Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show attracts rock, gem, and mineral vendors from around the world and runs for 10 days in early January.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show are January 2-11, 2015.

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

The Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama show occurs in late January and also runs for 10 days. The Sell-A-Rama has over 850 vendor spaces which equals roughly 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. You can find just about anything at this 25-acre show.

Dates for the 37th Annual Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama are January 18 – 25, 2015.

Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair

The indoor Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair takes place early February each year. One can find arts, crafts, hobbies supplies, jewelry, and lapidary supplies.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Arts & Crafts Fair are January 30-February 8, 2015

2015 Quartzsite Show Dates

You won’t want to miss the 2015 Quartzsite Shows!

January 1-February 28, 2015: The Desert Gardens Gem, Rocks & Mineral Show

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!
This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

January 2-January 11, 2015: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

January 2-January 14, 2015: Prospectors Panorama

January 5-January 25, 2015: The Main Event

January 16-January 18, 2015: Blythe Bluegrass Festival

January 18-January 25, 2015: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

January 17-January 25, 2015: Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

January 21-January 25, 2015: QIA Pow Wow Gem & Mineral Show

January 30-February 8, 2015: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair

February 6-February 7, 2015: Quartzsite Quilt Show

February 13- February 15, 2015: Desert Bloom ATV Rally

February 13-February15, 2015: QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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2015 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show Dates Announced

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it!

Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than a million and half million visitors, mostly in recreational vehicles, converge on the sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem, and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show.

Wherever you look, you see RVs of every type, size, and vintage. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

“If you’re looking for anything related to RVs, you’ll find it at the RV show in Quartzsite,” says Kenny King, show promoter.

There will be several hundred new and used RVs on display in 2015 and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs, and service on many of the items that will be exhibited at the show.

This phenomenon started over 30 years ago and is now billed as “The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World”.

The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened January 28, 1984 at the corner of Highway 95 (now Central) and Business 10 (now Main Street) in Quartzsite. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the “new show in town” was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite were RVers.

Check out the new and used RVs of every type and size at the Quartzsite RV Show.
Check out the new and used RVs of every type and size at the Quartzsite RV Show. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1987 the show, now re-named the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, moved up the street to the Quartzsite Trailer Park which was situated directly across from the major attraction in town, the Quartzsite Pow Wow (the first Pow Wow was held in 1967).

This new home for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show lasted 10 years until the show grew to a point that the current 3.5-acre show site could barely hold the number of exhibitors that were now vying for exhibit space at this popular annual event.

In 1997 the “BIG TENT”, as the show had become known, moved across the freeway to its present home, a new 20-acre facility, ½-mile south of I-10 on Highway 95 (now 700 South Central).

With the new Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show grounds, the popular event was able to provide over 15 acres of public FREE parking.

During our last visit to the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, we reminisced about how Quartzsite has changed over the last 16 years since our first visit and what future years might bring.

When we first went to the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in ’99, the RV Pavilion was packed with big-ticket items like RV satellites, tow hitches, and companies offering to install a solar array on your vehicle.

Since then, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show has boomed and last year alone it drew more than 150,000 attendees. It draws the snowbirds from around the US and Canada.

While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert.
While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Looking ahead to future years, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show will continue to grow and attract a more general crowd. Thanks to items like cheaper flat screen TVs, smart phones, and affordable solar arrays with charge controllers to power all your gizmos, it is easy to have all the comforts of home while you’re camping.

As RVing gets easier and more comfortable—and more boomers retire—even more people will dip their toes into the RV world, and what better place to do it than at Quartzsite?

As Quartzsite continues to grow and evolve, it will still be a wonderful place for RVers of all types to gather and relax with near perfect temperatures during the day and clear starlit skies at night.

Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

We’re going back to the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show again this year!

Quartzsite is an experience not to be missed—and we think you’ll like it too!

Worth Pondering… 

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

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RV Boondocking Capital of the World

Quartzsite, Arizona, a Sonora Desert community 18 miles east of the Colorado River, on I-10, is the RV Boondocking Capital of the World.

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.
Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The term boondocking, also known to RV enthusiasts as dispersed campingdry camping, or coyote camping, is used to describe camping in the midst of nature without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups.

As you approach Quartzsite from any point on the compass, you begin seeing them approximately 20 miles away from town: clumps, groups, and temporary communities of RVs circled around common campfire rings like wagon trains of old. Many solo units also are scattered among the sagebrush. In early morning and late afternoon you will see tall, straight fingers of campfire smoke pointing upward from these campsites.

Hundreds of thousands of RV owners, enthusiasts, and dreamers descend on the flat, rocky desert fields surrounding the town. Folks come from all over the US and Canada to behold the wonder that happens in Quartzsite every January and February. They come for the warm sunny weather, and great deals—what more can you ask for?

As you enjoy your time at Q, you can also prepare for your next boondocking trip by getting tips on techniques and hotspots from all the new friends you’ll make. Plus with so many RV experts around if something does go wrong, help is just a short walk away.

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can find everything from geodes to GPS devices, and frying pans to dream catchers.  If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!

The desert landscape is transformed into make-shift RV parks, little cities within a city. The streets have no name, but the purpose is the same—to boondock in the desert, rendezvous with old and new friends, visit the rock and gem shows and flea market vendors, participate in the Sell-A-Rama, wander the RV show under the Big Tent, and soak in the wonder of it all.

Quartzsite has become a mecca to visitors and exhibitors for rocks, gems, mineral specimens, and fossils during the town’s famous two-month-long gem and mineral show and flea market meet every January and February. From its humble beginnings the now-massive Quartzsite show has grown to epic proportions with vendors offering everything under the Quartzsite sun.

While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert.
While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be warned, though. Don’t come in the summer when nothing much happens. The gypsy-like encampment will have long disappeared. Vendors start packing up in mid-February and are long gone before the snowbirds migrate north and the intense desert heat becomes unbearable.

But come winter, everything changes as the small desert community bustles with activity. RVs by the tens of thousands camp helter-skelter on the BLM land.

Originally built by Charles Tyson, Quartzsite began in 1856 as Fort Tyson, then became a stagecoach stopover called Tyson Wells and this name still echoes in the annual Tyson Wells Rock and Gem show. A mini mining boom led to its renaming as Quartzsite.

What started as a small-town mineral show in the late 1960s in western Arizona has developed into a phenomenon that peaks in January by bringing more than 1 million people to the town of Quartzsite, where a huge RV show greets them.

The 2015 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show will run January 17-25. In 32 years, the event has evolved into the largest consumer RV show in the US.

The show is heaven on earth for RVers. It’s a ton of fun with hundreds of exhibits, live shows, bargain products, and fellow RV enthusiasts. The fact that the desert is gorgeous and the temperature is in the low-to-mid 70s in mid-January doesn’t hurt either!

Quartzsite is a popular destination for snowbirds on its own but many come for a week or two during the RV Show. When the gates open on the first day, people are lined up for a quarter-mile at each of the two main entrances to get in. It fills the tent and creates gridlock.

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!
This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Add to that the Pow Wow rock and mineral show and the Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama and Quartzsite becomes the third-largest city in Arizona for a brief time.

If you’re an RVer, Quartzsite in January is on your bucket list.

Quartzsite is a phenomenon, a gathering place.

Let the shows begin!

I’ll see you at the Q!

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Quartzsite: Woodstock of the Snowbird Set

During our last visit to the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in January, we reminisced about how Quartzsite has changed over the last 16 years since our first visit and what future years might bring.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you pass through Quartzsite in the summer, not much happens. You will see flat desert, some roadside businesses, tumbleweeds, and that’s about it.

But come winter, it’s quite different. The flat desert bustles with activity. Something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it! RVs by the tens of thousands camp in somewhat primitive desert conditions.

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just where is this gem of a town? Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

Quartzite swells in population to over a million visitors, most of whom converge on the small town in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February.
So what is the attraction?

Well, it’s relatively warm in Quartzite during winter. And it also offers pretty inexpensive camping. But there’s another more important reason people descend on Quartzsite in droves. And it has more to do with geology than anything else.

Quartzsite has been a rock-hound’s paradise since the 1960s.

Today, over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. You can find everything from geodes to GPS devices, and frying pans to dream catchers.

If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!

Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we first went to the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in ’99, the RV Pavilion was packed with big-ticket items like RV satellites, tow hitches, and companies offering to install a solar array on your vehicle.

Since then, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show has boomed and last year alone it drew more than 150,000 attendees. It draws snowbirds from around the US and Canada; it’s now the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Looking ahead to future years, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show will continue to grow and attract a more general crowd. Thanks to items like cheaper flat screen TVs, smart phones, and affordable solar arrays with charge controllers to power all your gizmos, it is easy to have all the comforts of home while you’re camping.

As RVing gets easier and more comfortable—and more boomers retire—even more people will dip their toes into the RV world, and what better place to do it than at Quartzsite?

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor
Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Quartzsite continues to grow and evolve, it will still be a wonderful place for RVers of all types to gather and relax with near perfect temperatures during the day and clear starlit skies at night.

Quartzsite is just 17 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. From Phoenix, the trip to Quartzite is about two hours. It is also easily accessible from Los Angeles.

Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015.

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!

The Woodstock of the Snowbird set is an experience not to be missed—and we think you’ll like it too!

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Snowbird Destinations

Snowbirds flock to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern Texas, Florida, and other Sunbelt states and Mexico to avoid winter’s bite, snow and blowing snow, and treacherous icy sidewalks and streets. Northern Europeans are also known to migrate to the U.S. Sunbelt, adding to these communities of seasonal residents.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The available options are unlimited enabling snowbirds to design their winter lifestyle to suit their financial ability and social preferences.

The basic question is WHERE are YOU going to go? Do you prefer the Pacific or Atlantic coast or Gulf of Mexico with their sunny beaches, or arid desert? Is your preference for dry air or higher humidity? Do you enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, or biking?

The majority of snowbirds migrate straight south from their northern home. As a result most snowbirds from the Northwest tend to winter in Arizona and California; those from the Midwest in Texas; and snowbirds from the Northeast head to Florida.

Another consideration is finding an RV park that is within your budget. Even with the recent escalation of RV park rates, one can still find a spot for about $400/month.

Large snowbird parks offer a variety of activities: swimming, dancing, woodworking, quilting, lapidary.

With an RV, you have the freedom to check out places that appeal to you. Experiment before you decide to settle into one place. Or, like us, you may prefer to be “roving gypsies”.

Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California's southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation.
Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, abut within Joshua Tree, dividing California’s southernmost national park into two arid ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Warm weather hubs such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California are tops for their predictable warm weather. But other states are also becoming popular—Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Arizona

The majority of snowbird resorts are centered around Mesa, Apache Junction, Tucson, Yuma, and along the Colorado River.

One of the hottest spots in terms of growth is YUMA (Yearly Uncontrolled Migration of the Aged), which doubles in population during winter months.

Any discussion of Arizona and snowbirds would be incomplete without mentioning Quartzsite, a rock-hound paradise since the 1960s. Quartzsite has been described as “$400,000 motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for FREE camping”.

Texas

The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida's most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida’s most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thousands of snow-weary Northerners flock to Texas during winter. In Texas—a state famous for adding its unique flair—migrating snowbirds have been dubbed “Winter Texans”.

Most congregate in one of two areas: Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley.

The majority of Winter Texans flock to “The Valley”, an area near the Mexican border that stretches from Brownsville and Harlingen in the east to Mission in the west—a distance of about 65 miles. Winters tend to be mild and a bit breezy. With less expensive living costs, the Valley is arguably the best bargain in the U.S. for wintering in a warm climate.

Florida

Think Florida, and you have thoughts of dazzling white beaches, wind-swept palms, endless citrus groves, fresh-from-the-water seafood, delicious key lime pie, Kennedy Space Center, NASCAR drivers at Daytona International Speedway, well-manicured golf courses, the Everglades, Key West, Disney World, and other Orlando-area theme parks.

Florida is the only state where you can winter anywhere. The further south you go, the warmer the winter temperatures.

There are so many choices depending on your interests and budget. The cost of RV parks increases as you travel further south and with proximity to the Atlantic or Gulf Coast.

California

Winter weather is close to perfect in Palm Springs and the other desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Winter weather is close to perfect in Palm Springs and the other desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The majority of snowbirds who make California their winter home, head for the Coachella Valley. This is desert country with an occasional oasis—some natural but mostly man-made. Known world-wide as “the golfer’s paradise”, golf courses abound.

Synonymous with the good life, Palm Springs is a retreat of the rich and famous, the ultimate in resort living. Swimming pools and fairways almost overlap. People who can afford to winter anywhere in the U.S. often do it here where winter weather is close to perfect.

In conclusion

Every fall when I hear the geese honking overhead, something starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose”. Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I pack up the RV and head south to the Sun Belt.

And, remember, getting there is half the fun.

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GRAND Gathering Achieves Guinness World Record for Largest Human Q

In an earlier post on vogeltalksrving.com, we announced that the GRAND Gathering, the World’s Largest Gathering of Grand Parents and Great-Grand Parents, was planned for Quartzsite from March 6 to 9.

GRAND Gathering Achieves Guinness World Record for Largest Human Q
GRAND Gathering Achieves Guinness World Record for Largest Human Q

So many Grands and Great-Grands were expected, organizers hoped to set a new world record.

The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) and Proud Neighbors of Quartzsite (PNQ) spearheaded plans for special events for this gathering.

The QIA are pleased to announce that over 600 people gathered at their venue to create the letter “Q” with people.

And earlier this week the QIA received official word that they’ve been accepted into the World Guinness Record for this GRAND Gathering Weekend Event.

A QIA member, John Hendrix, suggested the idea last winter and from there it blossomed into a fantastic weekend with the culmination of the “largest human letter Q” taking place.

“Many of the snowbirds already in Quartzsite for the winter stayed the extra time, just so they could participate and have bragging rights,” said Bernie Martin, who participated in the event.

GRAND Gathering Achieves Guinness World Record for Largest Human Q
GRAND Gathering Achieves Guinness World Record for Largest Human Q

“Word got out that the event was happening and there were RVers and snowbirds coming to Quartzsite from all over the southwest, on their way home for the summer.”

Quartzsite is a central gathering location for thousands of RVers every year. The spacious BLM land, great weather and central highways create a huge gathering of these “mobile nomads.”

Participants in this historic event can purchase an official certificate directly from The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® Store in London.

You will need to go to the official website of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® Store

select the top RIGHT area where it states in a Tab RECORD HOLDERS.

At this point you can select whatever type of certificate you would like to purchase.

You will need the following two (2) identification numbers to complete your purchase for this particular event.

Participant Verification code:

ID:131121-7121

Code: lmez5074LM

The QIA has the link to the Guinness World Records® Store on a special tab so it will open a new tab and allow you to go back and forth from this page and the Store page.

If you like, just copy each individual line and paste it into the correct section of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® form.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE!

A GREAT EVENT FOR ALL!

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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The GRAND Gathering: World’s Largest Gathering of Grands & Great-Grands

The GRAND Gathering, the World’s Largest Gathering of Grand Parents and Great-Grand Parents, is planned for Quartzsite from March 6 to 9.

Quartzsite-tgg-shirt-graphicSo many Grands and Great-Grands are expected, organizers hope to set a new world record.

The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) and Proud Neighbors of Quartzsite (PNQ) are spearheading plans for special events for this exciting four-day event.

John Hendrix, of QIA, brought forth the idea to help extend the winter season.

“I was just thinking, what we have most in Quartzsite are grandparents, so why not have a celebration for them?”

Hendrix began sharing his idea with others and the event has grown as more people and organizations learn of the plans.

The goal is for every club, organization, and charity to participate in a variety of events in early March while putting Quartzsite “back on the map in a positive light,” said Hendrix.

Many Quartzsite RV Park owners/managers are offering special discounts for The Grand Gathering.

grandgatheringThe event features food, seminars, sales, live entertainment, a 5K and 10k walk/run, and a classic car show.

Town-wide events being planned include a Senior Fair, AVTT Traveling Vietnam Wall, Antique Car Show, Concerts by Rex Allen Jr. and Paul Winer; GRAND Bingo events, a GRAND JAMboree, Town-wide Yard Sales, GRAND Breakfasts, 5K/10K Volkssport Walk, PNQ’s famous GRAND Rock Art Auction, fun-filled dances, and more.

The event starts March 6 with a library book sale and an opportunity to visit the AVTT Vietnam Memorial Wall at Desert Garden RV Park in Quartzsite. Rex Allen, Jr., will conduct a concert at the Quartzsite Improvement Association compound.

March 7 features town-wide garage sales and a “Grand Breakfast” at the senior center along with two bingo events. A jamboree with beer garden takes place at the Town Park followed by Paul Winer in concert.

March 8 offers a flurry of activity from a community church service, senior fair at Town Park , another “Grand Breakfast,” a 5K and 10K run/walk, and an Antique Show.

A rock art show is also planned along with dancing at the QIA. Harry Luge will be in concert.

Please Note: Previous postings on Quartzsite 2014 include:

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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Boondocking & Quartzsite

The open road and the big sky inspire a lot of people to make their first RV trip.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They ease into RVing by visiting a nearby (and beautiful) campground where they can hook up to water, waste, and electrical systems. Having this umbilical cord certainly makes RVing easier, but you may feel tied down.

As you become more comfortable with your RV adventures, the desire to go further off the beaten path and fully off-grid may inspire you to think about boondocking, according to Melanie Cullen, vice president of Operations and Marketing at Blue Sky Energy, Inc.

Boondocking or dry camping in a remote location without connections to water, power, or a sewer, can be a little intimidating when you are first venturing out.  It is just you and your RV alone in the world. It is so peaceful, beautiful, and refreshing to be out there away from it all. There is almost nothing better when things go smoothly and there is almost nothing worse when things go wrong.

The best first step to ease into boondocking is to head for Quartzsite for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show which takes place January 18 to 26, 2014. Quartzsite (or Q) is the biggest show in the country for boondockers, dry campers, and RVers, and attracts over 150,000 attendees.

The show is heaven on earth for RVers. It’s a ton of fun with hundreds of exhibits, live shows, bargain products, and fellow RV enthusiasts. The fact that the desert is gorgeous and the temperature is in the low-to-mid 70s in mid-January doesn’t hurt either!

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boondocking at Quartzsite is as easy as boondocking gets because you’ll be surrounded by thousands of boondocking experts, vendors, and RV tinkerers. There is even an installation and service area on the show grounds.

As you enjoy your time at Q, you can also prepare for your next boondocking trip by getting tips on techniques and hotspots from all the new friends you’ll make. Plus with so many RV experts around if something does go wrong, help is just a short walk away.

When you boondock, all you have is what you bring, and you have to bring all of that back with you. In preparing for your first boondocking adventure, focus on three things: water, waste, and power. These three elements comprise the main difference between boondocking and using traditional campgrounds.

When planning what to bring, keep in mind any trade-offs you might make between these three pillars of boondocking. While boondocking is a little more rigorous than staying at a campground, if you plan ahead you will be fine!

Having enough water is essential to everything.  FEMA recommends storing at least a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation, and more if the temperature is hot. But you should bring a lot more than that since you aren’t preparing for a disaster—you are there for a fun experience!

The key to keeping your waste under control on your trip is to plan ahead. When you’re shopping, consider the packing materials that contain what you are buying. Food and bathroom supplies are big sources of packing material waste so either shop wisely or unwrap whatever you can at home and then repackage everything in bulk containers.

Installing a solar array to charge your RV house battery gets you power wherever you are and it’s easier than ever due to technology improvements and a huge drop in solar panel prices.

The tricky thing about a solar and battery storage system is that batteries can’t capture all the electricity an array produces because the battery and array operate at different voltages. This voltage difference can cause up to 30 percent of the electricity to be lost in translation. Savvy RV technicians like those at Quartzsite who are experienced in putting solar arrays on RVs know the key to fixing this: an MPPT charge controller.

An MPPT charge controller helps you get up to 30 percent more power from your solar system by regulating that voltage between the batteries and the solar panels. That way your batteries will receive all the power being harvested from the solar panels. And like any purchase you make for your RV, make sure you pick an MPPT charge controller that is as rugged as the places you go boondocking.

Bring plenty of water, keep an eye on your trash, and solarize your RV with an MPPT charge controller, and you will have a blast when boondocking at Quartzsite and other BLM sites.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you leave Quartzsite, you will of course take everything you brought with you. But you’ll also leave with new friends and boondocking expertise so you can finally go as far off-grid as you’ve been dreaming.

Details

Blue Sky Energy, Inc.

Blue Sky Energy is an off-grid solar solutions provider. It offers the largest collection of small, military standard-certified MPPT charge controllers, pairing dynamic solutions with unsurpassed quality and reliability.

Fifteen years after introducing the first MPPT product to the clean energy community, Blue Sky Energy maintains its commitment to excellence in personalized customer service, philanthropy, and international relations with distribution to over 33 countries worldwide.

Address: 2598 Fortune Way, Suite K, Vista, CA 92081

Phone: (760) 597-1642 or (800) 493-7877 (toll free)

Website: blueskyenergyinc.com

Worth Pondering…

Forecast for snow…. sometime in the future, but not today!!! What a beautiful day!

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