First Winter Away - 2005 travel blog

view from above

another view

welcome to town

Recent rains have added some touches of green to the desert scenery. Radio weather forecasters warn of continuing flash floods, but our drive is easy. As we turn west after Phoenix, signs of humanity are few and far between. After we leave the expressway, Quartzsite appears to be a large town. But when we get closer we realize that few of the buildings are buildings. This is a city of recreational vehicles. Some are in campgrounds as we intend to be, but most take advantage of the Bureau of Land Management lands where one can camp for up to 7 months of $140. Campers are allowed to park wherever they wish, but have no water or electric services. Waste disposal is also an issue. At home I thought that these would be people on severely limited budgets, but as we pass one lavish class A motorhome after another, I realize that this is a lifestyle, not a budgetary decision. Our campground is a gravel parking lot, each site boasts a concrete pad and a palm tree. Surprisingly it is not full. We arrive in time to take advantage of the ice cream social. We talk to a friendly elderly couple from South Dakota who has been here for two months. What have they been doing here? It's not clear. Quartzsite only has 3,000 full time residents. The town has two tiny grocery stores, no bank, no cinema, no drug store, no hardware store. Yet over 250,000 campers spend all or part of the winter here. Why? Hopefully the next two weeks will give us our answer to this question.

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