Rubber Tramp Rendezvous: January 6-20, 2015

Come to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.and you can take classes and learn plus make many great friends.

Come to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.and you can take classes, learn many tips about mobile living. But best of all, you’ll make many great friends. This was a class at the second RTR in 2012.

Like I said in my last post, this last summer was mostly one of travel, so Judy and I didn’t get to see much of our friends. So when we got back to Flagstaff and we started seeing them again I remembered just how much I love being connected to other vandwellers. As I thought about how much I was enjoying visiting with old and new friends I was reminded of how many of my friendships have been made at the  Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (commonly called the RTR) and what a great thing it has been for me and for the many other hundreds of vandwellers who have attended it. Since it’s coming up in just three months, I  thought it was very important that I remind everybody that if at all possible you should try to be there. In this post I want to give you it’s history and tell you a little bit about it.

The genesis of the RTR was in March of 2009 when 13 other vandwellers joined me in my camp at Pahrump, Nevada. That was a really great time for all of us and I knew that I wanted to expand it beyond my own circle of friends and open it up to everyone who was interested. By then my website, cheaprvliving.com had become fairly popular and attracted many readers, so I decided I would post an article there. So in January, 2010 we had the first one. There were 45 of us that first year and we all had a great time. It was so great that we’ve been holding it annually ever since and it has grown larger every year. This will be it’s Fifth Annual and I am expecting more people than ever before!

I chose to hold it in Quartzsite, AZ because it has lots of great qualities that make it perfect for us:

  • There is an abundance of BLM land where we can camp for free. Who doesn’t love free camping?
  • While most of the country is being hammered by cold and snow, Quartzsite is relatively warm. But warmth is relative and the desert can be surprisingly cold, so come ready for some cold, wet and windy weather.
  • The town of Quartzsite is set up to meet the basic needs of RVers and Snowbirds, so getting water, disposing of waste and trash and buying supplies is easy.
  • So many RVers and vandwellers gather in Quartzsite in the winter that lots of vendors come to sell their goods out of tents, creating a carnival atmosphere that’s very entertaining and gives you many things to do and see.
  • If you are interested in working as a campground host, you are almost certain to find a job! Every year there is a Big Tent RV Show held in a huge tent and the population of the area swells to giant proportions as RVers come from all over the West to see it. It’s worth the trip here just to see the crowds in the tent! But what makes it perfect for us is that most of the largest concessionaires that operate Forest Service Campgrounds in the National Forests come here to do their hiring for the coming summer season. It’s very likely you can get a job if you want one.
At it's peak, Quartzsite is packed with RVs!! I stole the above two photos from this website: http://www.bafrenz.com/birds/Day4a.htm

At it’s peak, Quartzsite is packed with RVs!! I promise, where we will be will not be this crowded!! I stole this photo from: http://www.bafrenz.com/birds/Day4a.htm

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. It’s a long ways away, why should I come?

A. The main thing people take away from the RTR are deep, life-long friendships. Over and over again I see people come here and make friends that last them a life time. You’d think we travel so much and that we see each other so infrequently the friendships would fall away; but I’ve found the opposite is true. I may only see some of my friends once a year or even less, but when we do get together again it’s like we just saw each other last week. The connections are surprisingly deep and intense. Truly, we make friends for life and become brothers in a tribe.

Most seminars are just teaching, but some are hands-on.  Lat year my friend Forest brought in a tire and demonstrated plugging tires!

Most seminars are just teaching, but some are hands-on. Lat year my friend Forest brought in a tire and demonstrated plugging tires!

Q. Will there be any classes?

A. There will be many very experienced vandwellers at the RTR and an even larger number of newcomers. That creates a perfect opportunity for learning, so we put on seminars most days covering basic subjects of interest to vandwellers. If you are interested in teaching a seminar, contact me at [email protected]. At the bottom of this page is a calendar of this years planned seminars.

Q. Are there any fees for attending?

A. There are absolutely no costs for attending. Of course you will spend your normal amount for food and gas, but there are no fees for the RTR or for camping. It’s all free.

Q. What will be provided?

A. Absolutely nothing will be provided for you!! You are responsible for everything you need while you are here. There won’t be any toilets, showers trash cans or food in camp. You can get water, dump your trash, and take showers ($6 at the Laundromat) in town.

Q. Do I need to get a permit?

A. Quartzsite has so many RVers camping here that you do need to get a permit. But it’s free and just a formality. You can’t get it early so you’ll have to get it once you arrive here.

This is a seminar from 2013. Notice tht everyone is wearing hats and coats in most of the photos. Come ready for cold!

This is a seminar from 2013. Notice that everyone is wearing hats and coats in most of the photos. Come ready for cold! Every year I buy about 20 bundles of firewood and we have fires every night!

Q. What will the weather be like?

A. Generally it’s pretty nice with daytime highs in the 70s and overnight lows in the high 30s or 40s. However, a winter storm can blow through at any time and the weather can turn cold and nasty with very high winds and even rain. So come prepared for cold weather with warm clothes, sleeping bags and heaters.

Q. What should I bring?

A. Since nothing is provided, bring everything you need for your normal life. Special camping items you’ll need are water jugs, extra blankets, coats and heaters. I’ll provide firewood for a group fire every night but if you want a fire you’ll need to buy your own firewood because it’s illegal to gather firewood from the desert.

Q. What is there to do?

A. It’s a surprisingly  interesting place:

  • Gold Prospecting
  • Rock Hounding
  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Mountain Biking
  • ATVing-Jeeping
  • Shopping the vendors
  • People watching
  • Going for cheap dental, prescription drugs and eyeglasses in Algodones, Mexico which is about 110 miles away.
There have been two summer RTRs , this is the one in 2013 near Flagstaff AZ. I believe there will be one this year as well.

There have been two summer RTRs, this is the one in 2013 near Flagstaff AZ. I believe there will be one this year as well, probably in the Pacific Northwest somewhere.

Q. When should I get there, and when do I need to leave?

A. I think this area is a great place to spend the winter, so I usually get here in November and stay until February or March. So you are welcome to come early and join me in my camp, or stay in one of your own. You are equally welcome to stay and join me afterwards. What I’ve seen happen pretty often is people make a close group of friends and they start traveling together after the RTR, heading off and make a camp of their own.

Q. Where is there nearby shopping?

A. Quartzsite has several small local grocery stores that are fairly expensive and have limited selection. There is also a Dollar General and Family Dollar in town as well as a pretty good local hardware store. The closest national chain store is an Albertson, K Mart and Smart and Final in Blythe, CA which is about 22 miles away. The closest Walmart is in Parker, AZ which is about 40 miles away. It also has a Safeway.

Q. I’m not a vandweller yet, or live in an RV, can I still come?

A. Of course!! Vandwelling isn’t a choice of a vehicle, it’s an attitude and you are a vandweller when you say you are. Come join us no matter what you live in, even if it’s a house!

There will be two diners during the RTR. This was the soup dinner in 2014.

There will be two diners during the RTR. This was the soup dinner in 2014.

Q. Can I stay in a tent?

A. You can, but you need to be aware that the winds can be truly brutal here in the desert. You’ll be much better off if you have a vehicle you can move into during windstorms. If you have to be in a tent come prepared for cold weather and bring a tent capable of standing up to huge winds.

Q. Are my pets welcome?

A. My attitude is, if my dog isn’t welcome, I’m not welcome. Your pets are welcome here! Every year we have a great pack of dogs that are wonderful! The standard warnings apply: Don’t let them bark, pick up after them, and if they aren’t socialized keep them on a leash. But a unique warning applies to the desert, be aware that coyotes see little dogs as a great dinner so don’t let them run around unsupervised in the desert.

Q. Can I run my generator?

A. Yes, you can, but be considerate! I go to the desert to enjoy nature and listening to your generator makes that nearly impossible. So if you are going to run a generator park further away from other people so you won’t bother them. Beyond that, don’t run them all day and don’t run them too early or too late at night.

Q. I’m interested in getting solar power installed, can I do that there?

A. Yes, there is an outstanding solar store in town with everything you can need to do it yourself or they can do it all for you. There prices are good except for the price of the panels which are a little high. But there is a place in Phoenix with very good prices on panels!! http://sunelec.com/phoenix-warehouse/ I used to do installs for people but I am just so busy I no longer do any. There are people here who may be willing to help you do your install, but I can’t promise that it will happen. There may be others who will do it if you pay them, that’s between you and them.

Q. Can I get mail or packages sent to me there?

A Yes. Of course you can use General Delivery at the Post Office but there is also a local store that will receive UPS, FedEx and freight packages for you.

Q. Can I spend some time with you and ask you some questions?

A. I have to be honest with you and say that during the RTR I am incredibly busy. I know some people are disappointed that I can’t really spend time with them but I am just swamped the whole time. I found that I don’t get enough time to myself so I’ve started to go off alone every day just to maintain my sanity. I hope you can forgive me.

Q. Where is it located?

A. Here is a map. When you are about to turn off the pavement at the dead-end, check your odometer. The RTR is at mile 1.4 on the right. If you miss it, you will come to the hard corner and you will know you went too far. Just turn around and go back a few tenths of a mile to the spot. I’ll have a sign out on the 6th so it will be obvious, but until then you will have to use your odometer.

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Seminar Schedule and Notes:

  • All seminars and meals will be at the main fire-pit in camp.
  • There will be a fire every night, weather permitting
  • The chili and soup dinners are a group effort. Everybody needs to bring a can of soup or chili to contribute to the pot before noon of the day they are scheduled. That doesn’t sound good, but it always turns out great! We also welcome fresh, diced vegetables and cooked (or canned) meat. Cans of tomato products also work well. If you bring a vegetable, it needs to be cleaned and diced, or meat (like hamburger) it needs to be cooked and ready to go into the pot. We won’t have time to dice or cook those when we make the chili or soup.

The sunrise and sunsets in Quartzsite are often amazingly mind-blowing!

The sunrise and sunsets in Quartzsite are often astoundingly beautiful!

Qzt-Sunset-Cactus-Best

Beautiful sunsets like this one are common at the RTR! 

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

33 comments on “Rubber Tramp Rendezvous: January 6-20, 2015
  1. Avatar Lois says:

    Looking forward to coming again this year, Bob! I had a great time last year – it can only get better 😀 Thanks for all the work you do in coordinating this event!
    Lois recently posted…A Week in the High Desert East of the Sierra MountainsMy Profile

  2. Avatar Charlene says:

    The RTR is an exciting time of the year! For those to plan to stay in Quartzite for an extended period of time and would like to find temporary work, I would recommend joining our staff at the local Mcdonalds (right off the 10 freeway). I usually stay for about 3 months and I have been welcomed to work here every time. It’s great pay and you even get a free meal a day! Believe me that adds up if you have to buy food everyday. Save your hard earned money to upgrade your RV or van! See you all there!
    Charlene

    • Bob Bob says:

      Charlene, I know they are super busy the whole time so it makes sense they have to hire a lot of people! Thanks for reminding us. Is it better to get there as soon as possible? Are they hiring now?

      Thanks again!
      Bob

  3. ^^ What Lois said!
    LaVonne Ellis recently posted…Square oneMy Profile

  4. Avatar Cheri says:

    Tony and I are back in AZ now and looking forward to RTR this year. Bob, it looks like the schedule is filling up fast. Please pencil me in for a couple of wire jewelry classes. It doesn’t matter what days. If we have a lot of people who want to do fun stuff with wire and beads we can set up some informal gatherings. For any of you who have ever thought that wire wrapping rocks and beads might be fun this is your chance to try it. I will provide all of the wire and stuff you will need and I have tools for you to use. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!!!! This is always a really fun class. Yes you can do this even if you are not “crafty” GRIN I promise…. I can’t wait to see all of my wonderful friends from past years and meet new best forever friends. HUGS to all from Grammahugababy and Tony.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Cheri, how very kind of you to do the wire jewelry classes again! I know everybody loved them in the past. I’ll pencil them in. See you soon!
      Bob

  5. Avatar Shawna says:

    Fabulous post Bob — it’s obvious you put a tremendous amount of work into this event! Hoping I can attend in the future!!!

  6. Avatar Sameer says:

    Mr. Pico and I are so excited! I learned so much last year! We are looking forward to seeing our friends and learning more! Looking forward to the beautiful sunsets and sitting around the fire. Thank you for all you do, Bob.
    Sameer recently posted…Rubber Tramp Rendezvous: January 6-20, 2015My Profile

  7. Avatar Marcia says:

    Hi Bob… Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts… dreaming of joining you and all the others on the road (and at RTR !) one day… hopefully in about 2 years when I think I’ll be able to manage to retire, and will hopefully have disposed of several properties by then. Funny how something that you wanted so much to acquire at one point in life now feels like a ball-and-chain. In the meantime, your writings and photos keep me inspired … and looking forward to my own adventure !! Thank you !

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you for your kind words Marcia! It’s amazing how we build walls of “stuff” to surround us with and then we find out that in truth it is a prison that is slowly killing us.

      Freedom is calling you!! Grab it!
      Bob

  8. Avatar John says:

    Bob,

    this isn’t in response to your above post about the upcoming RTR(although I wish I could attend). Rather, this is just to introduce myself to you and thank you for the effect you and all of your readers have had on me. I came across your site less than a week ago and have spent almost every spare moment reading every single post and response on here. It has made quite an impact on the direction my future will take. Back in February I was diagnosed with cancer and have since then had to have surgeries to remove tumors off of my aorta and inferior vena cava. Then I had to go through two cycles of chemotherapy. I’m due to go back on the 24th of this month for another CT scan and am hoping for good results. I’ve told you all of this because I wanted you to know that I’ve spent a lot of time this year contemplating what my future will be like. I’ve realized now that life is short and time is precious and I want to enjoy life rather than just endure it. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted more freedom and to do some traveling.
    After learning more about van-dwelling and boondocking and after reading all of your posts and all of the comments of the other people living this way, I believe in my soul that this is my future. I WILL beat this cancer, and I will hit the road to freedom.
    Again, I just wanted to thank you and everyone else for all of the wonderful things I’ve learned on this site. I hope to meet you someday, shake your hand, and thank you in person for changing my life.

    John

    • Bob Bob says:

      John, thank you so much for opening yourself up to us. It’s stories like yours that continually motive me to pass along the message of Be Happy Now!

      I believe their is healing for our soul by reconnecting with nature and healing the soul will often heal the body. I honesty believe the best thing you can do is to get out and touch and be touched by nature.

      I’m wishing you the best and looking forward to meeting you!
      Bob

      • Avatar judy says:

        John, Anticipating that Bright Spot in your future can be healing as well!!
        When I found Bob’s forum, the van dwelling spirit captured my heart; I found that the excitement & anticipation of making that lifestyle happen for me to be the driving force in my life every day. I has an Adventure to Anticipate!
        I was 63 at the time and not wanting to plod along in my rut til I died. I wanted some zing in my last years, to seize the day and DO something just because it pleased ME.
        Words fail me to express the joy & wonder of living this “homeless” life. A Quartzsite sunset can bring tears from the awe of it.
        The worst day of van dwelling (and there have been a few low spots) beats the socks off the best day living in that rut!!!
        All my best to you!

  9. Avatar Terry says:

    Bob, I can’t wait! See you soon! I miss all of you guys, and can’t wait to see the new puppy:)

  10. Avatar Brian says:

    This will be my first RTR as well as my first trip in the van. Been vandwelling for 10 months in the city….looking forward to some time in the desert.

  11. Avatar Shirly says:

    Bob, I was reading through my pent rest entries and came across your article. I’ve just retired and purchased an rv. Didn’t know you existed. But I needed to find people who could help me through the first scary months of rv living. Hope to see you in January!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Shirly, please drop by! I know how hard the beginning can be and how much easier it is to be around people who understand and have been there before! I’m sure you will make friends that will make your life so much better!

      See you then!
      Bob

  12. Avatar Silvianne says:

    Great post, Bob! So excited to think about seeing all my old friends–and making new ones!–at next year’s RTR.

    In the interests of historical accuracy, I feel obliged to point out that the first RTR was actually in January of 2011, not 2010… making 2015 the Fifth Annual, as you said. I know I will never forget the date, as I had my “revelation” to sell my house and go on the road in November of 2010 and took it as a “sign” that the first ever RTR was scheduled for the following January… thanks again for your instrumental role in helping to change my life. I am so, so, so grateful to be back in my van tonight as I write this, with the cat curled at my feet and everything I need in the world to be happy almost literally within arms’ reach. What more could a girl want???

    • Bob Bob says:

      You’re right Silvianne! I get confused with it being in January and if I’m not careful I get the wrong year.

      I’m so glad you’ve found a way of life that brings you peace and contentment! Me too!
      Bob

  13. Avatar Gregg says:

    Bob, I have been following your blog for a while now and have learned much from it.

    The wife and I plan to join you at RTR 2015 although our camper is a class A, not a van. I will be retiring in 2 years (wife is already retired) and we are considering full timing it and are looking forward to learning from the experiences of the group.

    Is there anything you would like us to bring (other then cans for the communal dinners)?

    See you in a month

  14. Avatar tim says:

    im headed west on the 1st to see what its about. Im almost 62 and ready for an adventure. Hope i can find you. are adult beverages allowed (In moderation of course).

    • Bob Bob says:

      Tim, we are pretty easy to find! I have maps up to all my camps. Sure, what you drink in the privacy of your camp is no ones business but your own. There will be lots of beer consumed there!
      Bob

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