The town of Quartzsite, Arizona is about 150 miles west of Phoenix, 20 miles from the Arizona/California border. During the summer, it's little more than a truck stop, one of those perennially populated 'small' towns in the southwest. During the winter months it becomes a mecca for the weather aversed, RV-enabled, mostly retired folk who need to snowbird on a budget. Quartzsite also seems to attract enough weirdos and drifters creating a sort of geriatric Burning Man festival that lasts through the balmy winter months in the desert proper.

I go each year for one reason, rocks! I consider Quartzsite to be the poor rockhound's Tucson. I can buy about anything without any dealer credentials, and most of the shopping is walking distance. Tucson in February scares me... maybe some day.

I try to hit the weekend of the QIA Pow Wow, usually toward the end of January. With hundreds of vendors sprawled over the acreage, it's a full day affair to see everything. And if that isn't enough for you, Desert Gardens (yet another gem and mineral show) is just a hop across the I-10. Then there are another handful of smaller gem shows and rock shops strewn between the town's two freeway junctions. If you're not into rocks, there are border-to-border swap meet/flea markets and usually a few RV showcases. I suppose you could take your RV to Quartzsite to shop for an RV.

Each year I recognize a lot of the same vendors. I do a fly-by to see if they have anything new, but my real quest is finding new lapidary rough that I don't already have, a task that is getting more difficult with each year. I'm always looking for deals and those vendors who are willing to negotiate. There are the hardliners who never dicker on price, the miners liquidating their haul, and most of all, just nice folk who shave a few bucks off their ask after a friendly chat. A good deal leaves my pocket lighter, but always provides me with a smile and a pack full of new stone to cut. I also schedule my consumable purchases for Quartzsite, for example tumbling grit will run you $5/pound online. This year I got some from Yogi for less than $2/pound, and I don't have to pay shipping! I usually get enough to keep my big tumbler rotating most of the year.

I realize pictures would help, they always do, but for some reason I keep forgetting to take them... too busy rummaging through all the merchandise I suppose. I promise to take some pictures to post next year!