Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rendezvous at Quartzsite, Jan 10-29

Leaving on January 10th and returning on the 29th, I drove the Oregon and California coast down from my home in western Washington State to go to the Rubber Tramps Rendezvous (RTR) in Quartzsite, AZ.
Moon Rise over the lights of Quartzsite
with RVs camping on BLM land in the foreground.
During the winter months, Quartzsite is bursting at the seams with RVs.  The town plays host to a huge RV show at the end of January.  If you dare brave the crowds, you can find anything RV related ... from a new million-dollar bus to a dirt-sucking door mat to keep your rig's carpet clean.  I went into town for one day during the show and that was enough for me.
When the sun set, it got chilly fast ... time to gather 'round the fire.
The RTR itself was held on BLM land (free to camp).  The organizer, Bob, did a fantastic job of finding a good place to accommodate everyone and made us all feel very welcome.  We had folks come in every sort of vehicle and RV, but most had vans.  Some had been living in a vehicle for almost 20 years, others were just starting out and figuring out if living in a vehicle was for them.  Some were full-timers and others, like me, were part-timers.  Ages ranged from the 20-somethings into the 80's.   One traveled from as close as Phoenix, and others from as far away as Baltimore, MD and Ontario, Canada.  My best guess is that a total of about 40 people came and went while I was there (the RTR lasts through tomorrow).  To say the least, we are a diverse group.

Prius under the last color of sunset.
Bob and others did workshops on several topics -- installing solar power, wind power, work camping, living for free on BLM and NFS lands, adding a van high top, going to Mexico, traveling women, making a removable camp kitchen, worm composting, and many more impromptu topics of interest.  Most everyone enjoyed showing off their rig and how they lived in it.  If you are interested, Bob has a great website that covers these topics and many others:

Johnny jugging with fire, and Terry with lighted balls.
Every morning and every night we gathered around the campfire.  Several of the younger folks were jugglers and provided entertainment, especially when working with fire.  Some of our meals were communal ... Katie and Alex doing most of the cooking, and Cyndi making sure all remained ready and organized.  Cyndi's blogs with pictures of the RTR are here -- Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Stella of Brian (the younger).
 Most everyone had a dog.  They all got along great.  But, it made me want to have our dog Gretchen with me.  Check out Stumpy's blog on the RTR Pack (Stumpy is Cyndi's dog).

I enjoyed meeting people in person who I'd previously met online or through their blogs.  And, I also appreciated connecting again to those that I had seen on my earlier travels.  On my way into Quartzsite, I took one of these friend's open invitation to stay at her place (thanks VJ) and met up with one of my brothers for a couple of hours in Yorba Linda (nice treat).  At the RTR, I even met Jennifer and Johnny whose web site I use to find free or low-cost campsites.

Moon Rise from White Tank campsite in Joshua Tree NP.

Off the beaten path at Joshua Tree NP.

Keys View at Joshua Tree NP.  I was at this same location 15 months and more than 2" ago.
The sky is a wonder in the desert.  Many of the sun rises and sets were fantastic.  About mid-way through my stay in Quartzsite, I visited Joshua Tree National Park which is about 80 miles away.  I was there during the full moon.  Seeing both the moon rise and set was amazing in Joshua Tree. 
Going home, a vista from CA-58 in the Santa Maria Valley between Bakersfield and Hwy 101
View from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge

Elephant Seals.  See mothers nursing in the foreground.  (video at bottom)

Near Sea Lion Cave.  Sea Lions on rock in foreground, lighthouse in background.
Both coming and going to the RTR, I took the coastal highways to avoid the snowy passes of I-5, plus to just enjoy the most amazing vistas and sightings from that route.  I drove straight down, but did some meandering on my way back north.  Such beauty ... beyond words -- ocean vistas, surf crashing, dense forests, quiet streams, reaching-for-the-sky redwood monarchs. I saw a few deer, lots of elk, migrating grey whales, and some sea lions. The most fantastic animal sighting were the elephant seals. There were hundreds of them on this one beach with an overall impression of gigantic slugs littering the sand. The 5000-lb bulls were fighting off and on for the right to mate. The females were giving birth and nursing their young. All were tossing sand on themselves with their flippers trying to stay cool in the sun. What amazing sites and sounds (see video at the bottom).
I recommend Valley Ford Markets fresh deli meats and sandwiches!
If you like an old-fashioned deli, I recommend the one at Valley Ford on CA's Hwy 1. The smell is heavenly. I had a scrumptious BBQ sandwich, that day's special.

I arrived home last night,  It was a good 3 weeks, and now I'm glad to see John and the animals.

Here is a short video of the Elephant Seals