I left Quartzsite yesterday. I will remember the place as a mother lode of stories that will protect me from having an untroubled mind.
There are a lot of people marching to the tune of a different piper. And I am beginning to ken that many of them are a community unto themselves.
The community of RV travelers is larger than I thought. There are people who have retired to the life of the full-timer and others who are substantial part-timers i.e. people who are on the road for four months a year or more. There are full-timers who work part-time to supplement income, and others who work for nominal pay. Others serve without pay as campground hosts at National Forests, Bureau of Land Management Land, or Corps of Engineers land.
Quartzsite is best known for its two shows under big tents, RVs, and RV supplies and services, and the Rock and Gem shows. Both have a few year-round storefront retailers but the annual increase is explosive.
The wintertime flea markets of Quartzsite are a major piece of what defines the town. There are dozens of pockets of 50 vendors clustered into bazaars. As the season wound down in March, many had packed up and moved, but those remaining were less busy and more approachable for a superficial chat.
Some had seasonal jobs elsewhere and others were full-time vendors with a route of a half-dozen or more locations where they sold their goods. Some were artists and artisans who worked fairs and festivals, some more typical flea marketeers selling new items that were closeouts and discontinued items, and others who sold strictly second-hand goods that they had purchased at garage sales.
I am sure the subtleties and nuances of this community run deep. For instance, one man, an artist working in precious metals, has been itinerant for 30 years. Another has been selling new and used goods and equipment from his own inventory and consignments for 14 years. The vendor community seems a rich story vein to mine.
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Roy is enroute to Montana. Sooner than he wanted to be, there is still snow on the ground in sections of Montana. But he lucked into a free ride for himself and all his gear. On the day I planned to leave I visited Roy one last time intent on helping him with some of his personal needs. We made a run into town for water and grub. He checked the post office for mail, returned a library book he’d borrowed at our last run into town. We stopped at a bead store and he chose a few.
I doubt if Roy has had a real shower in months and tried to persuade him he’d simply feel better if he had one. At a local spot that offers public showers, I offered to treat him, he refused, concerned about the sanitation.. Likewise he turned down a visit to a laundry. I let him use my cell to call his son and daughter a woman in Montana who is pasturing his horses. It was in the last call he learned that her ex-husband was in Phoenix and would be driving his pickup to Montana in two days.
So in the middle of a hot day on the desert we broke Roy’s camp and loaded a dozen bags and satchels aboard the JS. We loaded his bike on my rack and broke down his bike trailer and carried it aboard. I carried him to Phoenix where we hooked up with his pal and said good-bye until I get up to his pasture in Montana.