When we first started RV’ing, people told us that going to Quartzsite was one of those things you just had to do at least once. Yep, we did it once, joining the Entegra Coach Owner’s Association (ECOA) rally in January, 2017 – you can read about our first experience here.
But apparently, we enjoyed it so much that once wasn’t enough, because here we were once again headed back to Quartzsite in January of 2018. Not by ourselves but as part of a caravan of five Entegras, all driven by our family of friends from Rancho California RV Resort.
Prior to our departure we were a little concerned because there was the threat of a government shutdown. Would a shut down mean that we wouldn’t be allowed to stay there, would they kick us off the land, would the rally be cancelled? Much of the land under the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is free for RV’ers to stay on but in most cases there are no services offered so our thoughts were that a shut down probably would not impact that situation. But we would be paying $40 (cash or check, for up to a 14 day stay) to stay at BLM’s La Posa South area which offers services such as a dump station, trash dumpsters and potable water so perhaps those services wouldn’t be available and maybe they wouldn’t let us stay there. So while the shutdown did occur the day after we arrived, and the potable water did get shut down, it became a lot of concern about nothing since the government managed to get their act together within a few days.
Knowing that we all would be using diesel for heat and hot water and to run our generators during our stay, we had a preliminary Entegra rally at the Arco station in Quartzsite to fill up our diesel tanks before heading to La Posa South.
After arriving at La Posa South and paying our registration fee, we contacted Gary Jones, who for the third year in a row (along with his wife Dee) was the wagon master for the rally. Gary met us in a golf cart and escorted all of us to the area he had staked out, pretty much the same area we stayed at last year. Many thanks to the both of them for another successful rally! We were surprised at how many Entegras were already there. Not sure what the official count was this year but it was well over 50 coaches. While a few folks left after a couple of days, several others arrived later in the week. Also, several more Entegra owners drove up in their tow vehicles to join up with the rally.
It was old home week! Many of the owners we had met at the rally last year or at the Entegra homecoming in Elkhart were there. Great seeing old friends again – John and Cindy, Don and Gerry, Arwinder and Susan, Denise and Dave and so many others. And of course, there was a lot of opportunity to make new friends!
Fun, busy week with much warmer temps than we had last January when it was cold and windy. Evenings were filled with happy hours, pot luck suppers, socializing around a huge bonfire and a BBQ dinner arranged by Gary (paid for by Entegra and Paul Evert dealership – Thanks!!!).
The guys banded together and spent hours sharing ideas, offering advice or troubleshooting specific issues that a few of the owners were having. It was also a good opportunity for owners to proudly show off whatever modifications they had made to their coaches. Throughout the week, we had a parade of people coming onboard to see all the mods Rob had made to our coach especially our new Lambright recliner sofa with the side tables (which was a big hit) and other storage improvements he had made. I think a few of the wives added a few new items to their husband’s honey-do lists thanks to Rob.
Aquahot service techs, Lloyd DeGerald and his son, were there for anyone needing Aquahot service as well as RV Weights who would do four corner weighing. We had appointments for each. Lloyd has his homebase in Paron, Arkansas where he offers free overnight sites with electricity. He makes the circuit every winter covering several snowbird hangouts. If you have a diesel fired boiler in your RV it’s definitely worth looking into having Lloyd service it for you! Great guy, top notch knowledge and work, highly recommended. Rob had planned to watch Lloyd do the service figuring he could do it himself from thereon. And he did, with Lloyd conveying a great deal of knowledge. However, between the group discount and new found appreciation for some fine points that can get one into trouble, Rob decided we would just have Lloyd do our Aquahot service from now on.
On Thursday afternoon, Pat Carroll, Director of Product Development at Entegra held a Q & A session with the owners. Several 2018 Entegra models were brought to our area by Paul Evert’s RV dealership.
One of the women at the rally, Denise Barlock, a certified freelance aerial photographer, had a DGI Phantom Pro drone. She did a fantastic job taking aerial photographs and videos of the rally. Since Rob has been dreaming about getting a drone for a very long time now, he was very happy when she spent a little time giving him lessons on using the drone. Watching him, I wondered if our credit card would soon be put to use but so far, it has stayed in his wallet!
Being into astronomy, her partner, Dave had a gargantuan telescope that he had set up near his coach. On clear nights, he loved giving the owners the opportunity to catch fantastic views of the moon, the Milky Way, other galaxies and the stars. How cool!
We did manage to go to the show, finding that the best time of the day to go was after 2:00 p.m. when people started to leave and parking spaces were easier to find. Inside the Big Tent there were some interesting items to look at but the outside area is more like a huge flea market or an outside dollar store. To be honest, if it weren’t for the rally, we most likely would not be back a second time because the show just isn’t all that great.
On the other hand we did pick up a few new items, a couple of cooking gadgets and Rob bought the new and improved display unit for our TST Truck tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) – major improvement!
Last January, friends John and Cindy took us off-roading in their UTV which was a total blast! It was great to see them again. We were very surprised to learn that they have just sold their house in Quartzsite (and their UTV) and are building a new home in Ohio. Congrats to them! Fortunately they will still keep their Entegra so we’ll still get to see them at Quartzsite, perhaps in Ohio or somewhere else on the road.
Cindy is quite creative, spending her spare time making beaded ornaments. It takes her about a week to make each one. Jeesh, I can’t imagine having that kind of patience dealing with those teeny weeny beads. Wow, so beautiful! I was thrilled when she offered to make one for me – what a special gift that will be.
All was not lost this year in terms of off-roading though. Vickie, Bruce and Gus (their goggled pooch) invited us to go off-roading with them in their jeep. Before heading out into the desert, since they had never been we suggested a visit to the Hi Jolly cemetery where Hi Jolly’s tomb is located.
So exactly who was Hi Jolly and why does he have a tomb in Quartzsite? Well, the story goes that in 1856 Secretary of War Jefferson Davis thought it would be a good idea to transport freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels. When over 70 camels were imported, the US Camel Corps was formed. A Syrian caretaker, Hadji Ali, a camel driver, referred to as Hi Jolly by the Americans, arrived with the first batch of camels. Hi Jolly, set off with the members of the US Army and the imported camels in 1857 going from New Mexico to California, surveying the land and creating what became a wagon route and later a big section of the iconic Route 66. Eventually the project was disbanded in 1861 for various reasons. Some of the camels were sold at auction and some remained with Hi Jolly who lived in AZ into his 70’s. Apparently a few of the camels outlived Jefferson Davis and Hi Jolly, their last reported sighting was in 1946.
Then off we went up into the desert! Gus looked so cute all decked out with his doggie goggles! Being out in the desert, away from everyone is really cool. Definitely no traffic here! Vickie was driving, Rob & Bruce were navigating keeping us from being permanently lost in the desert.
Once back on the paved main roads in Quartzsite, we stopped at Daniel’s Really Good Fresh Jerky Store. All sorts of goodies found here, not just jerky, BBQ sauces, hot sauces, spice rubs, honey, olives and pickled garlic, and honey. Yummy stuff!
In our post about Quartzsite from last January, we wondered why there was a Quartzsite Yacht Club Restaurant Bar & Grill with a sailboat in the parking lot in the middle of the desert. Even though the owner set it up as a joke, the club is still bragging that it has the largest membership in the world! Curious, one afternoon, we stopped there for lunch. Sure did look nautical inside. Since we were in a Yacht Club it only seemed fitting for both of us to have their Fish & Chips (2 piece dinner portion for $10.50) which was pretty good. We tried to buy a QYC burgee (yacht flag) but they were out of them, it would be so neat having that flying on our boat back in RI along with the EGYC burgee!
Speaking of yachts, sitting out in the middle of BLM land in the midst of all of the RV’s, campers, trailers and tiny houses, was a boat! And stranger still, we heard that someone was actually living on board. What? In the middle of the desert?
And the photo below shows the queue for the dump station. We heard that the lines get so long, people have to wait for hours! Luckily we went the entire stay with no need to dump, although once we did get about 20 gallons of fresh water using our portable collapsible jugs.
A group of us went on another interesting excursion during our stay in Quartzsite, but more about that in our next post!
When the rally was over, rather than heading immediately back to Aguanga on Friday, we decided to head to National Indoors RV Center (NIRVC) in Phoenix with friends and Entegra owners Andy and George. We’ve had intermittent problems with the small awning over our entry door so Rob was hoping that one of the service techs could take a look at it, not to fix it, but just to diagnose it. After several discussions with the Service Manager there, it was decided that we would wait to have it fixed until our appointment in Middlebury, iN in September. Even though we didn’t have any service done there, it was a worthwhile trip. It gave us an opportunity to meet the General Manager (Cowboy) and Service Manager (Nicholas), as well as several other people who work there.
Rather than drive the entire 320 miles back to Aguanga from NIRVC, we stopped with Andy and George at the Spotlight 29 Casino in Indio. It would just be an overnight stay in a huge parking lot with no hookups. Nice that they had a separate parking lot for the truckers and a separate one for RV’s. It was a short walk to the casino.
We arrived there early enough to take advantage of their luncheon buffet (11:30am to 4pm $12.95 Plus Tax) at the Capitata Buffet, one of their numerous restaurants inside the casino. Really good food!
Andy and George left early the next morning because they were heading to Long Beach to visit with family, so Rob and I had the breakfast buffet at the Capitata Buffet (7am to 11am $9.95 Plus Tax). That was excellent as well. After breakfast, we headed back to Rancho California, arriving there early afternoon. Even though we had only been away for 10 days, it was great to be back!
A few stats about our 8 day Quartzsite dry camping stay:
- Our Black tank (40 gallons) was only 36% full when we departed.
- Our Gray tank (60 gallons) was only 57% full when we departed.
- Our fresh water tank (100 gallons) was still 59% full when we departed. On one occasion we used our two collapsible water jugs to get water and added about 20 gallons back to the tank. We took showers almost every day. We also captured our “cold” pre-shower water and put that back into the tank. We used the dishwasher three times.
- Between generator runs, heat and hot water we burned 30.85 gallons of diesel fuel. Our heat and hot water are diesel powered, we do not use propane.
- Our Aquahot diesel burner ran for a total of 15.2 hours (1.9 hours/day) using about 6 gallons of fuel (0.75 gal/day) to supply all our heat and hot water.
- We ran the generator for a total of 36.4 hours (about 4.5 hrs/day split between morning and evening) consuming less than 25 gallons of diesel fuel (3.1 gal/day). Our batteries never got below 30% depth of discharge (DoD). Our 800 amp-hour house battery bank was easily capable of carrying us thru the night. The Auto Generator Start system worked well.
Now that we have an hour meter on our Aquahot, it is easier to accurately calculate its fuel consumption, which for this trip came out to just 0.75 gallons per day for all our heat and hot water. The generator is a much bigger consumer and this data is providing incentive to invest in a solar installation. An 800-1000 watt PV array would have reduced the generator run time significantly and saved a lot of fuel.