Instant CIty, Just Add People
About two hours from Phoenix, the little desert boomtown of Quartzsite, Arizona, blossoms from 3,000 inhabitants in the summer to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants in the winter. Rockhounds, flea market junkies, and snowbirds all flock here, and the desert landscape gets blanketed with RVs. What’s the draw? In January and February, Quartzsite becomes one of the largest swap meets in the world. Big gem and mineral shows and flea markets of every kind. It’s a mecca for bizarre subcultures. Rockhounds. RV lifestylers. Hippies. Off-the-gridders. Gun nuts. Nudists. Even a woman who does paranormal real estate appraisals of ghost towns and abandoned mines. Some live in tents. Some live the upscale travel lifestyle in $300,000 RVs. The Chief of Police finds his stress levels increasing rather dramatically as winter approaches, because he’s got ten officers in the summer for 3,000 residents, and he has those same ten officers in the winter when the population swells.