January 19 (continued)
This year the Xscapers Annual Bash is set up differently than previous years. Instead of two weeks spent in Quartzsite, there’s a part 1 and part 2 to the event, with the first week being in Q, and the second week being down near Winterhaven, CA along American Girl Mine (AGM) Road – where I boondocked for a while last February with several other Xscapers solos unofficially.
Those of us going to part 2 pull out today and make our way south on 95 towards Yuma, then west on I8. Or, go west on I10 to Blythe, then south on 78. The two routes are close to the same distance, but 78 is said to be less busy than 95, so the event coordinator J.P. recommends that route. I go that way, and stop for groceries in Blythe on the way.
Near sunset I reacquaint myself with the big wash east of camp, which is full of interesting green rocks and little furry-looking plants, a big contrast from all the spiky things at Kofa.
After dark, the party starts. There’s not a single night here at AGM without some sort of social event happening in the evening. I make it to most of them!
January 23, Tuesday
Yesterday I crossed into Mexico to see my dentist, Dr. Eva Ureña, for a cleaning. All goes well – you can read the linked article for more info on dentistry in Los Algodones.
Today, I go on a hike with Marshall. Beyond the big wash lies a mountain range dotted with mines connected by twisty roads. It’s a fun place to explore. We take his Jeep as far as it’ll go (it’s a 2WD model) and then start walking.
Most of the mines are blocked off and inactive, but a couple are still in use and surrounded by ‘do not enter’ and ‘private property’ signs. We climb a peak nearby and get a good view of this one.
There are also old dwellings and numerous posts with markers on them. This appears to have been a building once upon a time. Wooden stubs at roof level indicate where beams use to be.
On the way back out we stop at this building. Old structures like this always make me curious about the story behind them.
After dark, Bill Trinkle hosts another light painting workshop. I spin my poi…
And also steel wool. Who knew that fine-grade steel wool burns? The sparks it throws are pretty amazing. Note: you can seriously injure yourself playing with fire! Be careful, practice without first, and have someone standing by to help in case something goes wrong.
Let’s see. On the 24th, a large group of us cross to Los Algodones for lunch. I have a fish chimichanga at Molcas Tacos, which isn’t an authentic dish by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s so good! I’d had tacos at a stand across the street the day I came for my dental cleaning, so I got the best of both worlds.
Yesterday, the group took a trip to the Imperial Sand Dunes just up the road for sunset.
And it was a good sunset! I hope to come out to the dunes once more before leaving AGM.
And today the Annual Bash officially ended with a potluck brunch. Although for those who just don’t want the party to end, the week-long Mexico Convergence down in San Felipe starts tomorrow, and a good number of this group are caravaning down bright and early in the morning for that. I’ll be hanging around here until my two weeks are up (there’s work to catch up on), with a few other Xscapers who haven’t yet moved on.
* * *
And so, another busy winter gathering season comes to an end, at least for me.
Every year I hear from one or two first-timers who are disappointed with their experience at RVing rallies and gatherings like the RTR and Annual Bash, and it usually stems from not feeling included.
My advice on how to make the most of these events is very similar as in my article about how to meet people and avoid loneliness on the road: be proactive about reaching out.
You’ll get out what you put in to these events, so if you want to feel included, be the person who speaks first. Attend the group campfires and seminars and strike up conversation. Ask others what kind of rig they have, how long they’ve been on the road, their favorite place to visit. You won’t jive with everyone you meet, but when you do connect with someone, keep the conversation going. Ask new questions to answers they give about your opening questions. Share the story of how you ended up on the road. Find out what else you have in common besides being an RVer and dig into that.
If you have a good conversation with someone, seek them out at a later time to continue building the relationship. Don’t be afraid to invite them over to see your rig, or out for a walk or some other event. Exchange contact info and keep in touch.
As an introvert who usually travels alone, I often am asked how I make RVing friends, and the answer is attending meet ups like these. The event itself often tires me out and isn’t a very relaxing experience. But the friendships I make at the RTR and Xscapers convergences last long after the last campfire is put out.
Yes, it’s a lot of effort and can be uncomfortable to go out of your way to make new connections (and strengthen existing ones) for two weeks straight. But the payout is enjoying the other 50 weeks of the year with a far-reaching network of people whom you can visit with on a more casual basis as your paths cross on the road. Over time, your friends introduce you to their friends, and before you know it, you’ve a part of something that sticks and bricks folks can hardly conceive of: a true nomadic community. It won’t happen all at once, and as with many good things it takes effort. But it’s worth it!