Thursday, December 9, 2021


The Quartzsite Report: November winds down

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Welcome to the first edition of our regular – albeit seasonal – update on the news from the RVing Capital of the World. If you’re a QZ regular, or just thinking about “dropping in to check it out,” we’ll give you ditties and dollops of what’s happening in God’s country. God’s country? Well, some will tell you, surrounded by desert, it’s called that “Only because the devil wouldn’t have it.” But even as November winds down, there are plenty of snowbirds who’d beg to differ.

How many snowbirds to change a lightbulb?

Just how many snowbirds can you cram onto the desert surrounding a little desert town? While Quartzsite’s “official” census statistics are up to more than 3,700, wild estimates suggest the snowbird surge can run anywhere from a million to a million-and-a-half folks through town during the season. We’ll try and get a handle on it by comparisons throughout the winter.

The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is the biggest “landlord,” offering a place to park your rig and enjoy the lifestyle. Some of the BLM’s hang-out spots are “Short Term Visitor Areas,” where RVers can stay for free for up to two weeks. Just north of town on Highway 95 is the Hi Jolly area. For locals, it’s the first indicator that the season has arrived, as RVs and tents are clearly visible there from the highway. This Friday (November 19), 59 self-determined sites had folks camped out. From fancy Class As, to van campers and tenters, the place is filling up. One travel trailer offered a bit of class of its own – a vintage Shasta, pulled by a less-than-vintage SUV.

RV parks in town are likewise starting to bustle. Street traffic is up. In summer, one could practically whack a hardball down the B-10, or Main Street, and not hit a car or truck – maybe a passing roadrunner. But now, locals are having to change to their “winter driving habits.” Be prepared for plenty of s-l-o-w drivers and long waits at the traffic lights.

Not all here yet – but store shelves lightening

Even as November winds down and the “real” traffic has yet to arrive, stores are playing “catch up.” The popular Roadrunner Market can’t keep up with the demand for organic produce. This morning the entire section was stripped bare. And while our folks used the term “bread-snatchers” to refer to little ones, it looks like older folks are bread-snatchers, as well. Here’s an image of what’s left of the picked-over pastry area.

If you’re planning on coming to Quartzsite, be sure to tote a little extra cash with you. Fuel price jack-ups aren’t taking a vacation here. The average price for regular gasoline in town is stuck at $3.708, while diesel drinkers will gasp at an average of $4.148.

And while November winds down, the price of propane, like a baseball pitcher, is winding up. For the last several years, it seemed the price of LP was simply stuck. Not anymore. Typical propane per gallon prices are like those posted by the RV Pitstop on the 95. There you’ll fork over $2.75 – plus tax – for a total of $3.03 a gallon. The new owner of Pattie’s RV Park, on the B-10 near the Family Dollar Store, tells me he’s trying to hold the line. This, despite multiple wholesale price increases. His out-the-door price is $3.00 per gallon, including sales tax. Watch your pennies, the dollars take care of themselves.

Keeping up with COVID

Since November is winding down, we’d love to say that COVID-19 is too. Ain’t so, we’re afraid. For LaPaz County in general, the stats are 3,318 total infections, with 102 recorded deaths. In Quartzsite, the state’s health department records 11 “recent” cases. And how are folks reacting to all of this? Here’s our unofficial tabulation from a recent visit to a local grocery store. Of 17 folks in the store, including customers and employees, only two were wearing masks. If you stop at the post office, you’ll find Rubin, the ever-faithful counter guy, is definitely bucking the trend. He’s masked up at all times.

We’ll close out with one final weird statistic. The local Salvation Army operation runs a thrift store in town. On the counter they keep a red kettle for donations. When cleaning out the kettle one day earlier this month, among the quarters and greenbacks workers found a different sort of donation. A gold tooth. The fang scaled in at five grams. The folks from Sally’s say they figure they took in a $300 donation with that golden tusk.

Other stories by Russ and Tiña De Maris



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16 days ago

Good to see this info. What is it about Q that draws us back? I’ll be down that way again in a few weeks and look forward to a Sonoran Desert fix.

John Koenig
17 days ago

I’ve been wanting to get to QZ for a decade now. It just hasn’t worked out for me yet. This year and early next year, Covid is finding me STILL “isolating in place” in Northeast TN. Across the country, Covid numbers are going back UP. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s on the horizon, I don’t see substantial improvement of Covid numbers happening anytime soon. As much as I would love to get back on the road, I am not DYING to do so. 🙁

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
17 days ago
Reply to  John Koenig

Patience is a (possibly lifesaving) virtue, John. Happy Thanksgiving, and stay healthy. 🙂 –Diane

Robert Palesch
18 days ago

We are on our way to Q for our third winter since starting full timing 4 years ago. Can’t think of a better place to spend the winter

Tommy Molnar
17 days ago
Reply to  Robert Palesch

If my truck wasn’t stuck at the Ford dealer for over five weeks (because I foolishly did the recall ‘update’ to my emissions system), we would be on our way down there too. Drat!