Saturday, January 28, 2017

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous - Quartzite, AZ

On January 9th Barbara and I rolled into Quartzite, AZ looking to take in what is known as “The Big Tent Sale”, a very huge tent that has anything and everything an RVer could ever hope to own, and an event called “The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous”.  Once we arrived in Quartzite we looked for the RTR campsite and settled into a spot way out in the desert surrounded by cacti, rocks, mountains and nearly 400 other rigs of various sizes and conjectures.  We had finally made it to what is commonly called the RTR.  

Now, Quartzite is much more than just RTR… this small Arizona town swells each winter from a population of 3,600 to anywhere from 700,000 to 1 million as campers and RV people pour in just to camp, buy stuff, explore and socialize.  It mostly turns into a huge flea market/mid-way kind of thing with vendors hawking everything from elephant ears to new and used RVs.  Seriously, we’ve seen vendors selling cacti skeletons, rocks and gems, rusting bits of metal, antique tractors, and anything that one would need to update their camper; solar panels, L.E.D. lighting, air brakes, hitches, batteries, etc., etc., etc.

Ahhhh…. but I regress.  I want to tell you about the event known as the RTR.  Bob Wells, of, started this winter meet 7 years ago with the purpose of helping others learn how to live out of their vans or cars, thus the name Rubber Tramp (think; tires).

Bob Wells of RTR &

Each year the event has steadily grown and last year Bob was somewhat taken aback with the fact that about 170 units pulled in to experience what he and a handful of others had learned over the years. Well, this year the RTR SWELLED to an unbelievable 369+ permits!  Thats a permit for each rig whether it was a Class A or a 5th Wheel, or a person who sleeps in their car.  A good average is 1.5 people per permit so the total population of just the RTR event was approximately 450 people.  Think about that… 450 human beings living together out in the desert with no amenities, learning how to survive living on the road.

Our Lazy Daze is @ 5th one up, right side of main drag. (Photo Matt Kochel)

Each day started with announcements and Bob would stress very clearly that we were all there to get along, to be kind to one another, to learn and to take care of the desert. And you know what?  It actually worked out just like that.  We all were friendly with one another and if anyone needed help with some issue, someone there would volunteer to give that person a hand.  It reminded us of a hippie commune of days past.  I found it very cool.

After the announcements, people would raise their hands, stand and voice anything that they might have for sale or to offer a service of some type or to ask for help with something.  When that was finished a seminar of some type would be given.  The seminars ranged from topics such as First Aid Kits & Health, Favorite Gadget Show & Tell, Solar Seminar, Lithium Batteries, How to Establish a State of Residency & Get Mail, Cooking Methods, etc., all aimed pretty much toward Van/Truck/Car dwellers.

This would all be repeated during the evening as well; Announcements from Bob, Requests/Services from the group and a Seminar.  Barbara and I both really enjoyed these times.

While learning about different ways to do things while out on the road was interesting, so was meeting new and interesting people.  We met Matt Kochel who is a professional Canine Photographer.  He was nice enough to hand over a Canon 1.4x F/4 Teleconverter for me to try out while we were there. He also provided the aerial drone shot of the meet. Very nice guy, as well as his service dog J.J.. 

Matt Kochel & J.J.

I also hooked up with Martin, a young man who is just 3 years into his van dweller life.  He even has a blog documenting what he has done thus far to make his van a home on wheels.  If you’re thinking of converting a van, you might want to follow along with Martin as he progresses through the various stages of change and adaptations as he continues to learn the ins and outs of living on the road. Check out  He’s only been out on the road since December so bear with him. I’m sure you’ll learn what to do as well as the what-not-to dos!  Of course, you’ll certainly want to get into Bob’s as well!

Martin of

There were several well-known bloggers there as well, some that Barbara has been following for several years and she enjoyed meeting a couple of them in person.  And if you like to people watch, this was the place to do it.  Married couples  and single women and single men living in cars, vans, truck campers and big rigs.

And their dogs. So many dogs!  You pet lovers would have a high ol’ time at the RTR meeting and greeting everyone’s pup. 

Ah yes. It was a dog's life at the RTR!

Speaking of rigs, as mentioned above there were every type that one could imagine.  The photos below are just a small handful of the ones that I found interesting.  Almost everyone was willing to show their camper to anyone who asked to see it.

One of the highlights of our stay with the RTR groups was hooking up with Bob and a few others to experience our first trip over the border into Los Algodones, Mexico.  We didn’t stay long, just enough time to see what it was like, pick up some inexpensive prescription drugs and have a quick look around.  Now that we’ve done it, we won’t be so nervous about going back down on our own and spending more time there. Looking forward to that!

After staying at the RTR meet for 9 days we moved west, on the other side of I-95 to settle in with a large contingent of Lazy Daze owners.  I’ll be giving a follow-up posting on that in about a week.  Don’t want to overload you with too much information!  :-)

Thanks for reading and hope to hear from each of you soon.
Bud & Barbara


  1. Wow, great post! Your photograpby skills are impressive, especially the people shots! I was wondering how mexico was for you. I'd love to go one day. BTW ive vandwelled for 3 years now, just started traveling the us since december :)

    1. Thanks Martin, for the kind words. Once I get set up again I'll edit and make the correction. Mexico was a breeze. Nothing to it. We'll be going back in a few weeks, probably. Take care, my friend.

    2. Eureka! If you click the blue link you wind up here! Thank you for sharing your adventures with us, always enjoy reading them :)

    3. Yeah! It worked! Thanks Tammy.

  2. Great post, I heard the RTR was very busy this year. Too much crowd for me. I stayed outside of Ehrenburg, not far from where Bob Wells camps when not at RTR.

    1. Thanks Gary. Yep. Lots of people but it was our first Quartzite so just had to experience it. We may do it again. We drove through and seen Bob plopped over around Ehrenberg but didn't stay. Just wanted to check the area out.

  3. Hi Bud,
    I agree with all the comments, one of the most interesting posts so far. I wish I could have been there. A couple of weeks ago I ran across and told my son about it. He wants to come out west but really doesn't know where to start. Hopefully he will give it a look. It looks so low stress and fun to be with that group. Looks like it would be fun to just follow that group around and enjoy life as it was meant to be. Meanwhile winter weather has come back to Ohio. I'm really getting antsy to be outside and puttzing in the garage. I'm going to visit Tony in March for a week after I complete my physical therapy. Take care until next time. Bill

    1. Hi Bill. Glad that you found this post enjoyable and interesting! Encourage your son to do it. Heck, he has all winter to build himself a good rig! LOL Make sure he checks out the many different ways to make money while on the road. Should be a link on CheapRVLiving website as well as Bob Well's videos. Have a great time seeing Tony and who knows, maybe you'll get out this way some day to visit us! ☺ Take care, my friend.