Snowbirding 2018: At Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show

A quick aerial video and an explanation of what I’m doing here.

After about three weeks of off-the-grid camping out in the desert with and without friends, I’ve settled into a vendor campsite at the Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show.

I’ve been having some trouble with the batteries in my RV or possibly the solar panels or maybe the charge controller. That’s the problem: we don’t really know where the problem lies. Or even if there’s a real problem. I could go into detail here, but it isn’t really worth it. Although my batteries are now fully charged and my solar setup seems to be working fine, I decided to take a break from being off-the-grid and spend some time with at least a partial hookup. And that’s the main reason why I’m here now.

You see, I was supposed to be here later in the month for the Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama. My friend Janet, who is an artist, has been doing the show for years. I always wanted to try having a booth here. But what could I sell? My photos? My glass work? Honey from my bees? None of it was either interesting or likely to succeed. And then I thought of my Mavic Pro and all those folks camped out in the desert. Aerial photos of their sites? Why not? So I signed up for the Sell-A-Rama and got a site right next to Janet’s.

But that doesn’t start until January 17. It’s January 3.

Tyson wells has two other shows here. The first, which starts on January 5, is the Rock and Gem show. Quartzsite is famous for its rock and mineral shows — almost as famous as Tucson. (In fact, most of the rock vendors start here in January and go to the big show in Tucson and then come back.) Tyson Wells joins in the fun at the beginning of the month.

If you’ve never been to a rock and mineral show, you have no idea what it’s like. There are rocks every every type imaginable, many of them cut and polished into jewelry quality. And yes, people do buy rocks. If you saw these rocks, you’d know why. Heck, even I bought rocks last year.

Of course, it’s not just rocks. It’s the usual collection of tools and clothes and dog stuff and food and … well, anything goes.

When I went in to ask about a spot, I was told there were only a few left but was offered a double sized spot for the price of a single. Because I signed up late, however, I got stuck in a spot in the rock area. I’m at the end of a row, which is good because I can get in and out easily, but also bad because, well, I’m with the rock people. My neighbors are hippies of every age, some with dreadlocks and others with what look like painful facial piercings. They have countless dogs and live in an old motorhome. They cut and polish rocks and make jewelry. One of them polished a piece of what he called bacon agate for me. It’s about the size of the top joint on my pinky finger and very pretty. It actually sparkles. It might make a nice ring.

I spent most of the day putting together my booth. I have a tent-style shelter, standard 10×10 feet, that I bought years ago for helicopter rides events and I brought that along. Unfortunately, the side panels attach with velcro, which I think is a bit flimsy. So I spent most of the afternoon adding grommets. The finished tent looks good, although I still have work to do inside.

My camper and truck are parked in my booth space, which I’m pretty sure is 28×28 feet. There’s another 28×28 empty spot behind me (which might stay empty) and a 14×28 spot next to me (which should get a vendor). I have an electric and water hookup, which is nice. I dumped my holding tanks on the way over here so I shouldn’t need to dump. On January 15, I move to my other spot for Sell-A-Rama, which has a full hookup; I can dump again when I arrive there. In the meantime, I’m running my fridge on AC power (instead of propane) and don’t have to run my water pump.

When I got my booth buttoned up for the night, I had just enough light left to launch the Mavic for a quick tour of the area. I added some titles and a voiceover for the circuit around Tyson Wells. Just a quick thing thrown together in iMovie. I’ll try to make better videos later in the month.

I’m completely exhausted — perhaps because I’ve been up since 2 AM and have been working all day? — but might enjoy a movie on my RV’s little TV before I go to bed. Or, more likely, fall asleep with the TV on. If so, I probably won’t post this to my blog until the morning; I’m still waiting for the video to upload to YouTube.

Tyson Wells after Sunset
Here’s a photo from this evening’s flight. I circled my booth setup. If you look very hard, you can see the tent, my camper, and my truck parked perpendicular to the camper with the truck’s bed under the camper’s overhang. It looks weird, but it works.

More another day.

5 thoughts on “Snowbirding 2018: At Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show

  1. Hope the Mavic images sell well. Your neighbouring ‘rock polishers’ seem an interesting bunch. Perhaps Janet could do a sketch….?

    • Sketches? Hell, I’m hoping to get photos.

      I don’t have high hopes for aerial image sales. It’s kind of an excuse to be here. I really like to try doing different things.

  2. I just received a Mavic Pro for Christmas and began learning to fly it. I’m still working on the smooth sweeping turns. Any hints you would be willing to share on camera settings would be very helpful. Also are you using the neutral density filters in bright sunlight or are they really necessary?

    • Two tips for smooth circling:
      (1) Try the point of interest autofly feature. There’s a good DJI how-to video about it online. I use it quite a bit.
      (2) Use Tripod mode when making video. It smooths everything out by slowing everything down.

      That said, I didn’t use either feature for this clip — and I think it shows.

      Have fun with your Mavic!

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