Living the Good Life
January 23, 2016
I spent the last two weeks of January, 2016 literally out in the boonies. I was boondocking with the Boomers Escapees group in Quartzsite, Arizona. Boondocking means that we were camping without electric or water hook-ups. You bring in what you need in water, and you use your batteries and generator for electricity.
We were on BLM land: Bureau of Land Management. These are desert lands with mile upon mile of dirt roads weaving throughout the arid landscape. You may camp for free for 14 days, and then must move to another area at least 20 or 25 miles away. This rule is often not rigorously enforced. When you dry camp, the trick is to make your fresh water last until you leave, which, amazingly, I did! My fresh water tank holds 92 gallons. I captured water that ran while I waited for the hot water to reach the faucet, and used it to wash dishes in, and then to flush the toilet. I used the propane stove for cooking, even heating bread in my skillet to make toast so I wouldn’t have to run the generator to use the microwave. Rhonda the Frontier Woman! Would you believe I chopped wood for a fire? No, I didn’t think so. 🙂
There were approximately 140 RV’s in our gathering, and thousands of others scattered around the area! Yup—some say close to a million people converge on Quartzsite every January. If you flew over Quartzsite you would see hundreds of thousands of white rectangular RV roofs scattered over approximately a ten mile area. Most of us were here to watch the spectacle, to meet and make friends, but mostly to experience the huge RV show that comes to Quartzsite every January. And a spectacle it was—like a state fair on steroids, but with no carnival and no children! Mostly old farts! And they brought their dogs with them—many of them in baby strollers. Of course you can’t leave your baby in a hot RV while you go play at the RV show! There were several hundred vendors in the gargantuan tent, and a sea of stalls spread all over town. Vendors were selling food, hats, purses, clothing, jewelry, electronics, RV tools, lawn chairs, camping equipment—you name it! Temperatures in the low 70’s made it very comfortable to wander aimlessly around for hours! And you learn to always bargain for a better price!
The Boomers have several gatherings a year but Quartzsite is the most popular. The Boomers is a sub-group of the national RV club called, appropriately, Escapees. Our group’s leaders organized seminars on fire safety, batteries and solar panels, boondocking for newbies, RVing to Alaska, and caravaning to Mexico, etc. There were morning walks, potlucks, pancake breakfasts, daily happy hours, even karaoke. Though I was new and “green” no one ever made me feel stupid, and I learned SO much great information. What a fantastic group of people! They were so welcoming to the newcomers, and eager to answer any question, or help with any issue. Multiple times, if I asked a question, someone would offer to come over a take a look.
It’s difficult to imagine such outright friendliness. When you think about it, almost all these folks are retired. They like their spouse or partner well enough to travel around the country confined in 20-40 feet of living space. They had all experienced breakdowns and problems, and gotten help from other motorhomers. They enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery that our country has to offer, and shared happy hours and stories with like minded travelers. If you continue to thrive in this lifestyle, it usually means that you have learned to take life’s ups and downs in stride, and to look on the bright side of each adventure. I want to be like that when I grow up! I hope that I am starting on that path! Only time will tell.