Friday, February 22, 2013


It's the Mecca for full time RVers.  It's the mid-winter, middle-of-the-desert, you've-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it meeting place for anyone fool enough to live and travel in a breadbox on wheels. I knew I would have to experience a couple of days in Quartzsite, otherwise there would be no way to say I was a truly serious boondocking vagabond.

The above, not-so-scenic picture was where I spent my two nights--in the parking lot conveniently positioned behind the charming truck stop gas station and an all-night McDonald's.  However, It was walking distance to Q--the best restaurant on the main drag where meatloaf and fried sweet potatoes are the choice items on the menu and the two veteran waitresses easily handled approximately 25 tourists and 50 loud, boisterous and occasionally obnoxious locals.

I had to include this picture of Sigh Me to show some 'charm' in my otherwise stark surroundings.

Rise and shine--we have sightseeing to do.  I quickly dressed and jumped into the driver's seat only to glance to my left and see the following...

My neighbor was still fast asleep in the back of his car--right next to me. First I took a stealth photo, then, in a hurry to get away without disturbing his slumber, I  put the key in the ignition--and instantly set off my car alarm!  The poor man jumped a foot.  Then he muttered something rude,  covered his head and went back to sleep.   Such manners!  He didn't even say, 'Good morning'

I drove up and down every street in Quartzsite--just because there aren't many streets and not a lot to see except for block after block of RV dealerships, countless flea markets, lots of dusty roads leading off into the desert, and an endless array of houses-on-wheels.  The entire population of this town of 250,000 could be evacuated in 5 minutes, complete with all their belongings, at the first sign of summer's 100+ degree weather, or if a killer asteroid, or any other crazy attack, should head their way. I did not see even one permanent dwelling anywhere, except for the one above.  Hi Jolly is not going anywhere.

At one point in the history of the west, the US government decided to import camels as pack animals...

From the marker...
"This pyramid of native stone marks the resting place of Hi Jolly, a Greek born in Syria, also known as Hadji Ali.  Hi Jolly was hired in 1857 as a camel herder in the U.S. Army's short-lived historic Camel an expedition to chart a wagon road across New Mexico and Arizona...In 1861 the Civil War commenced, ending the day of the Camel Corps.  Hi Jolly returned to Quartzsite, trying his hand at mining, packing, scouting, delivering the 'Jackass Mail', and selling water to travelers.  The Quartzsite Cemetery is named in Hi Jolly's honor"
The camel atop the Pyramid symbolizes the legend of The Red Ghost that roamed the desert, terrorizing man and beast with what amounted to a corpse tied to his back.  Legend also has it that the ashes of Topsy, Hi Jolly's favorite camel and companion are also placed in the bronze time capsule (at the base of this monument).

So why do RVers come to Quartzsite in the winter?  Well, the temperature is consistently warm, though the wind and dust can get pretty tiresome.  I met a couple of retired folks, whose RV cost upwards of $300,000,  and they have called Quartzsite their winter home for a dozen years or more.  They also told me Florida is too expensive, too crowded and too humid.

Parking on BLM land is free and there is a whole lot of BLM land around Quartzsite.  As a matter of fact, almost all the land around the town is BLM land and RV's can be seen for miles out into the desert.
There is a definite camaraderie amongst the occupants with little distinction between that guy sleeping in the back of his car and the couple living in their plush rolling mansion.  Motorcyclists rub elbows with retired school teachers, authors have book signings at the used book store, aging hippies make beads to sell at the flea market, a nude jazz musician pounds out great music on the piano for the enjoyment of all.  (I kid you not.)


  1. Interesting about the camels, especially since their ancestors are thought to have originated in North America before migrating across the Bering Strait land bridge about 40 million years ago.

    Also, pictures of the jazz musician or it never happened. Sorry, but that's the rule! :-)

    1. Oh, ye of little faith, stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

  2. Also- don't know if you heard but we had over an inch of wet heavy snow in Tucson on Wednesday - WHICH STAYED AROUND UNTIL THURSDAY MID-MORNING!