Day 4 - February 1, 1998 - Milepost 1262 (78 today) - Quartzsite, AZ
(Shari's journal). Jim Hailey is wrong! Quartzsite is a wonderful desert town with more than just sand, dust, scrubs, cacti and lizards. As we leave Tonapah, we notice hordes of RVs coming west. I think good. There will be room for us and Bert comments they must have had enough of the shopping. We count 100 vehicles with Bert counting trucks and cars and me counting RVs. 45% of the vehicles are RVs. Still 7 miles from the town we can see what looks like little white bugs lined up helter skelter to the north, south and east of town forming a roughly shaped cross. I surmise these are RVs. About 5 miles from town, the first RVs start to appear along the highway and get more densely populated as we get closer. We turn off I-10 at the US95 exit and head to Quartzsite. What a mess of humanity and RVs, cars and trucks! We inch along the road and turn toward the sign that announces the BLM site 2 miles away. It looks like there are some openings for us to park, so we turn into the entrance. There is plenty of room because this place is huge in spite of the fact hundreds of vehicles already have claimed it as home. We stake out our little area of the desert, pay our $20 fee for the week, and walk to the big tent that houses the RV show. The show is huge and houses booth after booth of RV related items from vacation resorts and mechanical devices to kitchen gadgets and cleaning supplies. We stumble across a booth for EZ-UP screened in areas and talk to the gentleman there. He tells us of a screened patio that sells for $119 (we know someone who paid $300 for much the same thing) that is on display across the road. We head in that direction and about two hours later we arrive ready to buy. Since we are now a good two miles from RTENT we ask if he can have the "patio" delivered to the main RV show and we will pick it up in the morning. So we drove 1200 miles to save $200. Such a deal! It is now close to 4 PM and since we do not want to wear ourselves out the first day here, we head home. We have only just begun. I understand there are some 23 shopping areas and we have only lightly covered three. Oh what fun and how wrong Jim was.
(Bert's journal). The road from Phoenix to Quartzsite must have been laid out by a laser beam for I hardly touch the steering wheel for the 2 hour drive. We pass through arid land, but rich in plant life: pale green sage, dark green juniper, sprinklings of yellow flowers and patches of short thin grass giving the appearance of golf greens between enormous sand traps. As we near our destination the elevation tips upward, the ground blackens with lava tar and rough hewn igneous rocks the size of basketballs litter the landscape. From 7 miles out we can see Quartzsite lying in a swallow valley before a low mountain range and already from this distance we spot fields of RVs. We descend into the traffic jam and at snail's pace inch past flea markets and RV sites, turn left at Four Corners, climb the bridge over I-10, past Tyson Wells flea markets, the RV flea market and 2 miles out of town we pull off at the Bureau of Land Management camping site. Not a campsite in the typical sense, La Posa West is an expansive gravel field between scattered creosote bush and palo verde. RVs by the hundreds share the field with us, parked randomly, facing every direction. Sometimes in parallel. Usually not. Our leveling jacks confirm the flatness of our site, but between little RV villages arroyos serpentine deeply and serve as gathering places for cottonwoods and greater densities of desert bushes. White-crowned Sparrows exploit the greener passageways and wet my appetite for exploring for birds another day. But for now, we put on our backpacks and hike back toward the flea markets since pedestrian traffic moves faster than vehicular. Flea markets vary only in content and size, this one exceeding others in both categories. If there is a gadget every designed for, used in, added to, mounted on, hung from, consumed in, or otherwise associated with RVs, someone is selling it here. Booth by booth, aisle upon aisle, tent by tent, displays offer enough components to rebuild a country's count of RVs. But this is only the first of 3 flea markets we visit today. More are left for tomorrow.
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