Before I discuss the glory that was our time in Quartzsite, I need to take a step back and talk about the major changes we made to our FWC to turn it into the boondocking machine it is today. Our goal was to be able to boondock for two weeks without the need for a generator or external electricity.
We first outlined our needs, electricity-wise. Our fridge, though really efficient, would be our biggest energy draw at 1-3 amps per hour. Our other sources of electricity included our electronics (laptops, phones, other small things), lights, and fantastic fan. All of these components were very low draw collectively.
I had one electricity-related request. Just one. So I sweetly, politely, lovingly asked Clay if he would make sure our electrical system could run my hair dryer.
I learned quickly that this was not a simple request.
So we decided to go big or go home. We installed 200W of solar on the roof of the FWC and a 200Ah deep-cycle battery that weighs as much as I do. We paired it with a solar charge controller and a 1500W power inverter. These two sentences of description here makes these mods seem ridiculously simple and painless. They were not. But it was a very successful build and ultimately, our system can handle all our electrical needs indefinitely. And not relying on anything but the sun for electricity is pretty dang cool.
So how do we know that our system can handle our electrical needs indefinitely? We headed to Q-town for testing, of course.
For those unfamiliar with the Big Q (I love all the names for this podunk desert town), it is, seriously, where the snowbirds of the west flock in the wintertime. With miles and miles of BLM desert to stake your claim, it can accommodate the largest Class As to the smallest of truck campers. And with offerings of 50 degree nights and 70-80 degree sunny days throughout the wintertime, the weather is hard to beat. I’ve seen numbers reported all over the place, but thousands of RVers, if not hundreds of thousands, descend upon this tiny town every winter and the place comes alive with snowbirds cruising around town on their ATVs.
There are designated desert camping areas and RV parks in the town. Most desert camping is free; if you want access to a dump station and potable water, you can pay $40 for 14 days or $180 for 7 (!) months. If you just want to rough it, as is our preferred style, there are four designated areas that are free for 14 days.
Seeking as much space and solitude as possible, we headed to Plomosa Road, about 10 or 15 miles away from the center of town and a lesser-populated camping area. Our February arrival was on the tail end of the busy season: still plenty of people, but the giant RV show held here in January had come and gone, and many people had gone with it.
So we rolled in, got our free 14 day permit from the camp host, and rolled out as far away from everyone as possible.
We loved our time here. Q-town itself is hilarious. It is the rock and gem capital of the world according to a bumper sticker I picked up, and there are people selling rocks and beads on every corner. I have no idea how they keep themselves in business, and Clay and I giggled to ourselves imagining people loading up their Class As with rocks of all shapes and sizes.
The sunsets were incredible and the starry skies at night were even more so. These pictures (and the bazillion more I posted to instagram) don’t even come close to capturing how stunning it all was, every single night.
But alas, all good things come to and end. And when our permit duration was ending, our dusty selves were ready to move on. We had walked as far as we could in every direction, tested out our screenhouse office, and more importantly, confirmed that all our electrical needs barely affected our battery voltage at all. Boondocking machine, complete.