Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Travel Memories: The Old Town Of Yuma, AZ And Our Camp Life

December 02
The old town of Yuma. AZ

Today we went to see the old town of Yuma and pick up our mail. After 2 previous attempts we receive our mail at the Yuma Post Office. Then we drive down to see what is left from the old days. Well, there isn't too much being really old. Most of the old center has been rebuilt even though architecture reminds of long-ago days. Some single buildings seem to be from the beginning of last century. The center, or "Main Street Plaza" as it is called, resembles a market place with its numerous booths of artistic merchandise. 

Since we are close to Christmas, a decorated tree has been put up at the entry. Yuma Main Plaza has a relaxed atmosphere which is underlined through a country musician on stage. People are hanging out here, browsing, buying or just sitting around on benches under the shaded store fronts.
Yuma has indeed a rich history beginning already at the time when several Indian tribes were populating the banks of the Colorado River, these were namely the Quechans, the Cocopahs and the Mohaves. Recording, however first started in the 16th. century when explorers, adventurers and pioneers were pressing on to reach the American west. At that time the river was broad, untamed and wild rushing towards the Gulf of California. Some places the riverbed was 15miles wide and quite impossible to fort. Because of a geological formation the river narrowed into a 400 yards wide channel at the future town site of Yuma. Until 1950 the tribe of the Quechans were also called the Yumas and as a result the Colorado Fort was called Yuma Crossing. 

Yuma's history recordings began on a day in 1540 when the Spanish explorer Hernando de Alarcon arrived at the Colorado River. From that day and until 1854 Yuma was under the Spanish and Mexican flag. Then, in 1854 and as part of the Gadsden Purchase Yuma became part of the U.S. Territory. As a strategic point with an increasing east-west traffic Fort Yuma was founded in 1849. Being the only viable south western route 60.000 people passed through Yuma from 1849-1850. During this time the town was called Colorado City. In 1870 Yuma had become an integral part of the Wild West and represented a challenge for law and order. Bandits preyed upon the civilized part of the population and in 1876 the Arizona Territorial Prison was built in Yuma. housing the most dangerous and notorious criminals until 1909. It soon became a symbol of frontier justice and still stands as a landmark for Arizona's intolerance of treachery.

December 03

The day turns out to be windy and I have a terrible back pain and we stay home.

December 04

Another windy day. Walking along the canal is quite impossible because of blowing sand. I am still in back pain.

December 05

Today we have to bring the trailer to the Sani Dump in El Centro. Louis and Terri help putting the 5th.wheel hitch into the truck bed. From El Centro we go to Calexico for laundry, from where I call home to get the newest.

December 06

It seems the nights are getting chilly. As of this morning we had about 0 C (32F) however at 8 am we have 18 C in the sun and actually can sit outside. Desert temps during the winter.

December 07

We decide to do a drive to famous Quartzsite today. Quartzsite is the renown capitol of the snowbirds in America.

Several TV-crews have published footage about Quartzsite and its millions of winter campers coming from all over North America.

So we follow Hwy 78 east and north. At Palo Verde the road touches the banks of the Colorado and the County offers a nice free campground right besides the river. On both sides of the road farmers are growing cotton, and now is the time of harvest.

Passing Ripley the 78 soon connects to Interstate 10. At Blythe we stop to buy some lunch. And then we reach Quartzsite. The first thing you'll see is ---- RV's. There are RV's everywhere. Parked in the desert within the town, at RV-Resorts, the reason why Quartzsite is known to the world. It simply is the capitol of all winter vacationing campers of North America.

Besides of coming here for spending the winter people love the Gem and Rock Shows. It all kicks off in January when the big RV-show is on. 

But right now we are interested in visiting the flea market. And what a flea market that is. You have been looking for that rare kitchen item what your grandma had in the fifties? You'll find it right here. Looking for a part for your 56 Chevrolet BelAir or a couple of used tires or an old gun? You like old records of the sixties? Ok start looking at the Quartzsite flea market. Chances are you'll find it all here. 

Here we also meet Joe, standing by his sales booth ready for a talk with a potential customer. I don't know what Joe actually is selling, because his personality takes all of my attention. I assume him to be around 75 years old. His face, marked by wrinkles as deep as the Grand Canyon, is framed by gray hair growing wildly from everywhere where a mans face might show hair, forming a collar around his neck. He's holding his 1 year old grandson (?) on his lap, while he is telling us about Quartzsite. "You wait until next month and there will be approx. 1.5 mill. people here leaving you no chance to park your truck anywhere close to town".

After parting with Joe we are heading down Hwy 95 south towards Yuma. And here, right after leaving Quartzsite we discover the biggest campground in the world. 11,000 acres (4,500ha's) of desert land are giving space to several hundred thousand campers. This is the biggest LTVA within the BLM-system. Besides of that, you are free to park anywhere else outside of designated areas for max 14 days without a permit.

The area borders to the KOFA Wildlife Refuge east of Hwy 95. Here we admire peaks, towers and pinnacles striving against the blue sky out of the flat desert landscape making the perfect backdrop for a Mel Gibson Fiction movie.

Far to the west Bea notices a huge dust cloud moving through the desert. Oh, that sure looks like the Santa Fe Stage Coach crossing. We wonder what that might be and stop for taking a picture of the huge old giants of the southwestern desert, the SAGUARO CACTI. A Saguaro gets many hundred years old, and it is said that it takes 100 years before the first arm starts poking out. The process of dying takes not less than 40 years, but you'll rarely see a completely dead Saguaro as their stems are popular for making lamps, selling for hundreds of Dollars at tourist places like Sedona, AZ.
Meanwhile the dust 
cloud has moved across the desert and towards Hwy 95. Finally, a mile ahead we see a big tank truck appearing out of the cloud, and turning onto Hwy95. Of course we are disappointed of not seeing that Stage Coach we hoped for.
When reaching Yuma the sun is about to drop behind the horizon. And shortly after it is dark. We have to shop some groceries and fill diesel and propane. Rolling in on our campground at 6.30 Ca-time we have a quick supper and then join our neighbors at the fire.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Icey Days

 I am interrupting my series of travel memories to let you know about some up-to-date happenings here on the home turf.

After my last posting it has become evident that January has left the scene to the month of February, which around here, always seems to be the coldest and most snowy month of winter. That has especially been true for the last 4-5 years. Winter seems to start later than in former years and rather keeps us with company into the months of March or even April. (God forbid!)

Out here at the coast, winter does not only mean snow and ice but more than anything ferocious winds (means storms) In combination with temperatures way below the freezing mark, this also means that a person can receive serious frostbites. And hardly ever have I come across a word better fitted to its meaning than "frostbite". The wind chill is quite literally biting into any part of your exposed skin, which encourages a person to cover up any possible surface against a potential frost attack. And that does not mean you are fit to step outside with your usual pair of jeans and a regular jacket. No Sir, when you want to step outside, and we have to do that on a regular basis with Dixie, our Anatolian Shepherd, you have to get dressed in multiple layers. I am talking a good woolen sweater above your shirt, a very thick down-filled long winter coat with a fur-lined hood, under which it is advisable to sport a woolen bobble hat kind-of-thing, and even better, another thinner fleece hood with integrated collar covering your exposed neck underneath.

Hopefully, you never leave your long johns off during winter, but even with long johns under your jeans, your legs will quickly change color to a bright pinkish red, if you should attempt to meet the gales out of the north-east on a frosty February day. So you need another layer, like something windproof with a fake fur or fleece on the inside.

Now it's time to look at your feet. I hate getting my feet cold during a hike, so I find my thickest woolen socks and 2 pairs of it, for again, think "layers". 2 socks on each foot "may" just be enough, but it'll depend on your type of boots. Forget about Gortex. It might be waterproof, but it'll welcome the cold right onto your poor feet, and your dog will look at you and wonder why the early return home. You'd be well equipped if you got fleece- or fake-fur-lined boots. That, together with your double-layered socks will keep your feet warm.

Now, that we are dressed somewhat appropriately, we can find the dog and step outside. It'll hurt a lot on unprotected parts of your face, but you either get used to that or you can use your Covid-19 facemask for further protection. They are NOT fleece-lined though! Remember you can't cover your eyes as you need to see where you are going. Have a wonderful hike!

Oh darn....we forgot our lined gloves!

        Photo credit: Beatrix Kohlhaas taken with Nikon P-900