Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Quartzsite RV show and Boomerville 2020

This year is our third year in Quartzsite for the January zoo or, more properly, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV show. It is a totally crazy time where the the population of this sleepy desert town swells from approx. 3500 year round residents to over half a million! Almost all of them boondocking out in the desert in a dozen or so main areas around town. The main draw in January is the 'big tent' where a hundred plus vendors show and try and sell their products and services.
In past years, most of these vendors were selling primarily RV related products. The last few years though, things have changed and the tent now seems more like a large home show. Yes, there are still lots of RV related products and vendors, but more and more non RV related stuff is showing up. Things like hot tubs and cell phone accessories, leather belts and wallets to name a few. Also the hucksters selling the latest 'must have' miracle kitchen gadgets!
There is also another area across the road called Tyson Wells with longer term vendors who usually stick around for a good chunk of the winter. Here again you can find almost anything you like from RV accessories to hats to Trump wear to yard art.
Quartzsite also hosts a couple of large RV dealers during this time and they display and sell a large assortment of RV's. This makes for a great place to explore different floor plans and 'kick the tires' so to speak.
All of this, plus Quartzsite is also known far and wide among the rock and gem hounds. There are quite a few vendors who sell every kind of gem or mineral you could want.

After my last update, Boomerville filled up quite quickly. The total this year hit 239 rigs! It was actually quite crowded toward the end.

On Saturday the 18th, a bunch of us saddled up and headed off to a spot north of Parker which, while only about 5 miles off the highway but feels more like 20, called the Nellie E. Saloon or just the Desert Bar. This is a spot where someone converted an old mine camp into a completely off the grid bar and restaurant.

The road out was pretty rough in Steve and Tammie's jeep but once we got there it turned out to be a pretty interesting place. They have a very impressive solar array to keep it all powered. As far as the restaurant goes, the best way to describe it was fairly average but over priced. I get the price bit though as I don't imagine it would be cheap to transport all their supplies out there and that solar plant is pretty extensive.
The drive back was the best part though. Instead of taking the road back, we decided to take a back trail more suited for jeeps, ATV's and off road vehicles.  There were a few challenging sections but Steve did a masterful job. We also got to see some new terrain as well.

One thing Steve picked up from one of the vendors at the big tent was a new set of batteries for their coach. Their old ones were getting pretty tired and as they full time, they needed a new set that would provide for all their needs. This was our project for one of the days. It wound up taking part of one day and most of the next as they were a tight fit and we had to get a set of cables custom made. We also installed a new inverter and battery monitor for their coach.

Before installing the inverter though, was the Boomerville pot luck. As last year, there was a ton of food and we all ate way too much!

It was after we stuffed ourselves that Steve and I decided to finish up their install by mounting their new inverter. I should add that this thing weighs about 60 pounds and is mounted to the ceiling in one of their cargo bays. That was a lot of fun but we did manage. Their refrigerator and other appliances are much happier now with clean pure sine wave power.

Thursday was the annual CARE auction. I wrote about this last year but Chris and I, along with Steve and Tammie got a bit more involved this year. Somehow we got nominated to be on the teams that canvased the vendors in the big tent for donations to the auction. I think we did pretty good collecting quite a bit of merchandise.
The auction this year started around 11:30 and went til after 3. Chris, again this year, put some of her famous cinnamon buns and some pineapple upside down cakes in. I didn't keep track but I believe they garnered over $400 this year.  All in all, with the proceeds of the auction and other fund raising efforts over the last couple of weeks, the Boomers brought in about $18,000 dollars for CARE!

Last Sunday a bunch of us headed out to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to do some crystal hunting. There is a small area where they allow people to hunt for crystals; mostly quartz. After 3 hours or so we all had had some success in that we found some small ones. This area is pretty well picked over so not too much left to be found. We all had a good time though.

That is Ed, he is a retired geologist, in the light green shirt explaining what to look for and the best places to look.

This was taken up on the hill where I was hunting.

After the end of Boomerville, on Monday, Steve and I along with Ed and his wife Jan, headed back out to the area northwest of Parker to try and find the rest of the route we started out on earlier.
There is a route (676) that Ed had found both ends of but wanted to connect together. We did the eastern half earlier but lost the track and had to return. This time we started from the west end and worked our way east.

After 3 hours or so crawling across the desert on what would generously be called a goat track, we finally found our way to the spot where we lost the route earlier. It turns out we had missed it the first time by only about 10 yards! So close!
We did also get to go back to the old mine we had found earlier as well. We explored around a bit and got to check out the old mine tunnel, powder bunker and some of the old works. Very interesting place.

This is the entrance to one of the mine shafts. You could go in about 20 feet before the entrance was blocked by a heavy steel barrier.

You could see quite a ways down the shaft and I have no idea how deep into the hill it actually goes.

This is the one surviving powder bunker where they would have kept their explosives.

One of 2 vertical shafts that had been covered up.

I'm not sure who this fellow was but he apparently passed away on June 17, 1994. I wonder if he owned the mine or just worked there.

As I write this tonight, we have left Quartzsite and headed north to Lake Havasu City. We had originally planned to go back to Peoria and the Pleasant Valley Airport but when we called to see about a spot they told us they were no longer doing dry camping there. There really isn't a whole lot of boondocking areas in the Phoenix area so we regretfully had to come up with another plan.
Steve and Tammie had told us about "Winter Blast" in Lake Havasu City, so we though we would give that a try.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Grand Design Rally and back to Boomerville

As planned, a week ago Tuesday, we pulled up stakes and headed about 15 miles south to another boondocking area for the Grand Design Owners Rally. When we arrived, there were already about 40 or 50 other GD rigs set up. We found a good spot in the Solar section and were set up in short order.
Over the next couple of days, Grand Design rigs started streaming in. By the official start of the rally on Thursday, the count was up to 181 rigs. Everything from the smaller Transcend and Imagines right up to the largest Solitudes and Momentums.
Over the next few days they had quite a few very interesting sessions scheduled, most of which I attended. Everything from solar to suspension upgrades to maintenance. It was all very informative. Grand Design had a crew of factory techs on site for the duration who were kept quite busy attending to critical problems and recalls. We had them look at one problem we have with one of our slides but unfortunately they didn't have the required parts to fix it on site but were able to authorize the repair for a later date.
One interesting sidebar was the number of attendees who almost never boondock, always being hooked up to power in a park somewhere. The first couple of nights a lot of them ran their batteries dead overnight and woke up cold and had to run generators to recharge, only to do it all over again the next night. There was quite a bit of grumbling over that. We, of course, were just fine.
The one downside we ran into was that Chris came down with another cold a few days before we headed over there. Unlike her usual colds, this one turned into bronchitis and left her sounding like a seal with deep, deep coughs. She had it the whole time we were there and is just getting over it now, 2 weeks later. That somewhat curtailed our socializing with the others unfortunately.

Here are a couple of photos shot from a drone. You can see our rig in the second shot just right of centre with the satellite dish on the roof. In this first shot, we are just out of the frame to the left.

And another stunning sunset. We had several, as well as a couple of really nice sunrises as well.

Also while we were there, was the full (wolf) moon. I caught this one just as it was setting Saturday morning. My iPhone camera doesn't really do it justice.

Sunday morning after one final presentation, many people started packing up, and as we wanted to get back to Boomerville, we did the same. Even with Chris's bronchitis curtailing things for us somewhat, it was a good event and if we are back here next winter, I think we would consider doing it again.

So back to Boomerville... Quite a few more folks had arrived when we got back but we had marked off our spot and it was still unoccupied. We got set up just in time for the welcome happy hour on Sunday. We had a good time reconnecting with a number of people we hadn't seen since last year.

There are lots of activities going on all the time so always something to do. Yesterday my friend Steve and a couple others had organized another Jeep excursion. I tagged along and we wound up a few miles northwest of Parker. They had a plan to try and find a route around a mountain that promised to provide some opportunity for some challenging terrain.

Here is the gang planning out our route.

Heading into the wash

This was the first challenging section. A narrow gorge with a few challenging obstacles.

Steve spotting and guiding one of the other drivers

Steve and I were bring up the rear so I got to spot for him

Our lunch stop

An old mine site we came across. There was quite a bit more here but we didn't stop other than to figure out where we were heading to next. Both Steve and I wanted to stop and spend some time exploring. Besides this water tower, we could see what looked like the remnants of an old powder magazine and an open shaft along with some other structures.

All in all, we were gone for most of the day. While we were off doing this, Steve's wife Tammie and Chris were doing manicures and foot massages back at camp with proceeds going to the Escapees charity, C.A.R.E. I think I heard they brought in about $160.
Today, Chris did up a batch of her cinnamon buns and put them out for a donation to C.A.R.E. 4 pans brought in $240! Well done!

Just for comparison purposes, here are a couple of shots of before and during Boomerville.

This is only about 20% of the rigs here!
Good news too. The last few days Chris has been feeling much better. Still a bit hoarse and coughing a bit but past the worst of things. So far, I am still OK (fingers crossed!)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Happy New Year!

So long 2019. It was nice knowing you. Hello 2020. I am sure we'll get along great.

After spending New Years at Mittry Lake with some other Boomer friends we moved up to Quartzsite on Thursday along with a couple we met when over at Imperial Dam. Steve and Tammy hail from Colorado and are new full timers like us having only been on the road since last summer. We kept in touch after leaving Imperial Dam and they joined us at Christmas for the pot luck. They are wanting to join the Escapees and we talked them into joining us at Boomerville.
We are the first to arrive and have our spot staked out. We are in almost the exact same spot we had last year. Now all we need is a few more Boomers to join us.
Steve and Tammy tow a Jeep behind their motorhome so yesterday, Steve and I went 4x4'ing while Chris and Tammy went into town for some girl time. We wound up gone most of the day and covered quite a bit of terrain.
We started out over by Bouse which is a small town North East of here. From there we struck off on some back roads and just followed our noses. After exploring around for a bit we ran across an old mine site. Someone had dug some pretty deep trenches and shallow holes in a rock outcrop. I imagine they were looking for gold or silver or something. We did find quite a bit of quartz around which I understand is a sign there might be gold.

After having a bite to eat, we carried on and wound up on a pretty minimalist track across the desert weaving our way around cactus and creosote bushes for quite a while until finally coming up on an irrigation canal. We followed it for a while until finding a gravel road which led to a paved road which ultimately brought us back to US-95 up at Parker, about 35 miles north of Quartzsite.
I wish I had taken more pictures as it was a great trip and we saw some neat terrain.
I know I have posted many others, but one thing down here that we can never get enough of are the sunsets. They can be spectacular! The last couple of days have been no exception.

That's Steve and Tammy's rig in the background behind ours.
Next up for us is a detour over to the Grand Design Owners Rally just south of Quartzsite for a few days then back here for the official start of Boomerville next Monday.