Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quartzsite Big Tent Show

The Big Tent, image from the Web
Many other bloggers have written about their experiences at the 
Big Tent RV show held at Quartzite Arizona every January. I guess it's different for everyone. My report is aimed at those who have never been here, and are wondering what it is like for a first-timer.

If you are a good walker, you can see everything in the big tent and in the many side small tent areas in one day, but two would probably be better. That way if you saw something you were interested in, you could think about it and buy on the second visit. I went one day by myself on Saturday, for a few hours, and then went back with Craig on Wednesday afternoon.

Many of the vendors were selling products aimed at RVers. Things like tow bars, tire monitor systems, RV bedding, water filters, LED lights, chairs, patio mats and camping membership programs. There were a number of RV resorts passing out information about their parks, as well as representatives from the Alaska visitor centers and Tombstone AZ tourist bureau. Many others were just selling things like hot tubs, exercise machines, cleaning products, cooking tools, t-shirts, and even Medifast diet programs. Overall it reminded me of the many state fairs I have been to, but with an RV twist. 

The few things we were interested in were not being offered at bargain prices. I have been looking into Fantasy RV Tours and at their booth I was told that I could get a discount if I booked a tour while at the show. I asked how much of a discount, and it came to a whopping $100 off a ten thousand dollar tour! I did buy a little clip-on purse at one booth and since I am getting used to being offered deals in Mexico, I asked if his posted price was his "best price." The answer was that the sales tax was included if I paid cash.  No bargains there either.

The outer tents were a bit more flea-market-like. I enjoyed browsing through the many open boxes of cheap stuff.  But that is exactly what it all was. Cheap stuff! Things you can find at any swap meet or Dollar Store.

At risk of sounding like a complete curmudgeon, I also felt the food offerings were ordinary and very expensive. At one point I had to sit down to rest my foot, and shared a table with some others while I drank a  $2.50 small bottle of water. One of my table mates had a $6 order of french fries, and said they were limp and greasy. 

Around the show area, and in the town of Quartzsite itself there are a number of  RV dealers who are showing and selling both new and used rigs. At one point my foot hurt, so I flagged down a salesman with a golf cart and he took me around to see several rigs. Unfortunately there were very few in his area that filled my list of "wants", and none of them appealed to me enough to even ask "how much." But it is a good opportunity to see a lot of RVs that are on the market. If that is your purpose, I'd plan on staying several days.

Now about our nice experiences with the Alfa Roadrunners, our chapter of the Alfa Owners group, at Quartzsite:

Quartzsite Sky on Fire

We arrived in the early evening, just as it was starting to get dark. Our plan was to park with the Roadrunners out on the La Posa BLM (Bureau of Land Management). They have been coming to the same spot for many years. 

The La Posa lands are huge, 11,400 acres with four entrances! Looking at it on Google Earth, all I could see was a big open desert hard-pan with many small dirt roads and tracks going in many directions. Fortunately we got very good instructions from the president of the Roadrunners as to how to find the other Alfas. We entered at the North entrance, just off US 95, and there were many RVs parked at every angle. There are no "spaces." The cost to park on BLM land is $40, paid at an entrance, for two weeks. They also have a yearly rate. The entry road is paved for a short way, but then becomes a somewhat rough gravel track, with smaller tracks off to either side.  We were told to drive straight for a while and turn at the Alfa Roadrunner signs.

This worked fine, even though it was starting to get dark, and after about two miles we found them, but by this time it was dark and the road was getting vague. We had been warned about a gully we might get stuck in if we turned too soon, so when we got within five hundred feet of them, we stopped and Craig went out to scout the way on foot. 

By this time, the other Alfa owners saw us and one of our friends came out to guide us in. The message here is to avoid driving in to the La Posa to park after dark, unless you do so quite near the entrance road! 

There are about twenty Alfas here, and several other Roadrunner couples have come to visit from other parking areas. Our rig is the farthest right in this line. We are parked in an orderly way, much closer to each other than most of the other RVs on the BLM land. I guess that is because we are a group and want to visit with each other. I have noticed many clusters and circles of rigs and assume they are also groups of friends. 

The view out our side windows is very peaceful and we cannot see any other rigs at all on the driver's side. It was a bit overcast the day I took this, but the weather has been fine most days. Cool overnight, but warming up enough to go without a jacket during the day. The nights are totally silent once the generators go off, and we have been sleeping soundly.

As a group, we get together for a campfire every evening. This was taken right after our president-and-log-handler had put quite a few new logs on. 

Of course there are always many munchies to share, and on all but two nights we have pot luck dinners as well. 

Craig and I have been sleeping late, so we have missed the group breakfast gatherings. We just are not morning people.

Wednesday night we made S'mores. 

I like my marshmallows to catch fire!

Lots of talking, making new friends, and catching up with old.

Perhaps Washington should have campfires instead of Congress. Maybe we could solve the country's problems with camaraderie and woodsmoke.

There has also been a  Tech Talk and shared repair work going on. 

One morning we had a Coach Walk, which is somewhat like an open house where we can visit each others' coaches to see how they've been modified and/or decorated. Participation, by having a sign posted and an open door, was optional. We saw and sat in a chair which both Craig and I agree on. What are the odds of that? It is a La-z-boy. We are going to wait until we get to a city with a La-z-boy store so we can see and feel the different leather choices before we order one. I'm excited!

We each contributed $15 towards group expenses. This covered a pizza dinner on the first night, and since there was money left over we are having an Ice Cream Social Thursday. 

On Friday I am looking forward to a craft "show and tell". It is always interesting and inspiring to see what the other ladies are making. I wonder if any of the men will come.

The group has also gone  to see  a couple of nearby places, one of which was the Blythe Intaglios

To me they look like they could have been created just a few months ago, but they are thought to be several thousand years old!

I have to recommend the place where we had lunch after our outing. 

The Rebel BBQ (TripAdvisor rated #1 out of 37 restaurants in Blythe, CA) had outstanding food at reasonable prices. It is located on South Lovekin Blvd., just two blocks from the I-10. There is only car parking in their lot, but we spotted ample parking for a large RV or two, behind the McDonalds across the street.  This is a good place to keep in mind if you are rolling through the area, and want to stop for lunch, or if you want to pick up some carryout to eat in your rig later.

So, all in all it has been a very pleasant week. I would certainly come back to see the other Alfa Roadrunners. I would not come back to see the Big Tent!

We are also going to join many of the other bloggers that are in Quartzsite this week for the Second Annual Bloggerfest  on Saturday. We are looking forward to meeting so many of our friends for the first time!

[From Craig]  It's been quite a while since I've posted a food recommendation, but these two are really good. 

Frito-Lay introduced Tostitos Rolls for last year's Super Bowl, and they're available at many supermarkets across the country.  To me they have several advantages over other corn-snack products: 
* they're crunchier, in a more solid way
* they stay fresh longer (if you close the package tightly)
* they pack more densely, so you get way more crunchy corn stuff per package.

Trader Joe's Cowboy Caviar has a slight sweetness and a hotness that grows on you.  If you're not near a Trader Joe's, try a different brand of corn, black bean, and pepper salsa.

Just right for this weekend's NFL championship games, and the Super Bowl!


  1. I'm with you on the Big Tent, Merikay, you aren't a curmudgeon in the least. Quartzite is fun for other reasons, but that kind of shopping makes me crazy. I think you have to be a lover of garage sales and flea markets and since we are downsizing, I have no need to go there. Will have to try the Cowboy Caviar, Craig, it looks good.

  2. We always enjoy the Quartzsite area. Hope to meet you at bloggerfest.

  3. Making the Cowboy Caviar would be so simple and have none of the additives. Thanks for the idea, Craig.

  4. Making the Cowboy Caviar would be so simple and have none of the additives. Thanks for the idea, Craig.

    1. One of the reasons that we like Trader Joe's is the lack of additives. The only thing in Cowboy Caviar that looks anything like an additive is guar gum, which is a thickening agent made from guar beans. It would take a lot of experimentation to get the taste as good as the original.

  5. We didnt even go to the big tent the last couple times we were in Q. We're just there for the social aspect. See you Saturday.

  6. Don't know if Adventure Caravans has a booth there, but we've had several very nice caravan tours with them and recommend them highly.

  7. I love your campfire picture where the light from the fire illuminates everyone's face and still enough ambient light to catch the rigs in the background. Perfect timing. The sunset shot with the Saguaro in the foreground is way cool too.

  8. We're coming to Bloggerfest; looking forward to seeing you again.

  9. Excellent review of Quartzsite, Merikay. Enjoyed it and learned a lot.


Leave a comment, or send an email.