January 11, Thursday
Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) time! I depart Kofa Wildlife Refuge, AZ in the morning and make the short drive north to Quartzsite. Specifically, Scaddon Wash BLM area east of town.
As usual, the RTR (hosted by Bob Wells of CheapRVLiving) has grown again this year, and I’m parked farther out so as to not be right on top of my neighbor. I quickly discover that the RTR is being comprised of several ‘camps’ this year, and I end up in the music camp, a couple washes north of the main camp. I quickly meet my closest neighbors, and they all seem like cool people.
The RTR is a fantastic place to learn about the ins and outs of life on the road. It runs a full two weeks and most days there are two seminars dedicated to some facet of of the lifestyle. Plus there are people here from all walks of life, so no matter how much money you have to work with or what type of vehicle you plan to travel in (van, car, RV), you’ll find other attendees to learn from. I’m heading the work-camping seminar on Saturday morning, so I have a little time to socialize.
The focus of the RTR is definitely on learning, and most activities are centered around that, but there are still opportunities to get to know each other. I’m in the habit of attending the daily campfire at the main meeting area, and because the evening is warmer than last year’s average, more people are out. This is a good way to break the solitude of Saddle Mountain and Kofa.
January 15, Monday
Like always, I don’t focus on photos at the RTR. Some attendees here don’t have or want an online presence and with so many people crammed in together, it’s easier to just avoid photos than to try to track down everyone in them to make sure it’s okay to put the photo online. I was number 811 to sign in (not mandatory), and an estimated 3,000 people came to the RTR this year, phew!
My seminar two days ago was well attended. I talked about Amazon CamperForce, national park jobs, and the beet harvest, then Bob talked a bit about campground hosting and a couple other odd jobs. Remember how I said I was ordering paperback copies of Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget and The Little Guide To Dreaming Big to sign and sell at my two seminars here in Q? Well I sold completely out at this first one! Thank you everyone who came out, it was a pleasure meeting several of you in person.
Besides that, I spun poi at a party one evening (hosted by Jamie of Enigmatic Nomadics at his sweet skoolie), and attended an acoustic music night. All in all, I had a good time but as always the big crowds get to me after a while so I can’t stay long. Bob had staff to help him run the RTR this year and I definitely feel that things went smoother than last year.
Today I move north to Plomosa Road to join the Xscapers for their third Annual Bash. I’ve been to every one and watched the event grow every year, I’m the 144th rig to pull in this year. Evening campfires in a central gathering area are also a tradition here.
January 19, Friday
Xscapers is a branch of the Escapees RV club targeted at working-age RVers. There are seminars, but for the most part they’re scheduled in the afternoon to give people who work time to do that in the mornings. I gave my work-camping talk yesterday afternoon to an engaged audience and answer questions afterward. Again, thanks everyone who attended!
I’d say if RTR is mostly education focused, the Annual Bash is more socializing focused (although there are plenty of educational resources to be found on the Xscapers/Escapees website). There are official and unofficial social gatherings almost daily and because it’s a smaller (and newer) group than the RTR, it’s easier to get involved in the community. On the 16th after a live music performance by the Status Crowes in the main meeting area, I go out with several photographers in the group for light painting sessions – something my poi work very well for.
It also helps that having a part of the Annual Bash since the beginning, I’ve already made a lot of friends here. So while it’s a bigger and bigger group every year, it feels less overwhelming because I already know so many of the attendees. I wonder if people who’ve attended the RTR from the start think the same way about that event.
All in all, my Quartzsite experience goes quite well and I have a good (if busy) eight days. Up next, part 2 of the annual bash, and some advice on how to make friends on the road!
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