Friday, March 21, 2014

Yuma, Arizona

Friday, Feb 7th - Friday, March 28th

This is where I spent most of my time the month we were at Sun Vista Resort in Yuma, where the "fun never sets".  The pool and the frozen yogurt stand were my two favorite spots.  Although, John and I both learned to play shuffleboard and made some new friends from Drummond, Montana and played a few games with them.  They also had pickle ball, fitness room, water aerobics, zumba, lots of card playing and game playing groups, singing, clogging, line dancing, square and round dancing, concerts, dances, movies, etc.  No excuse to be bored here.  

I loved this little half Canadian, half American flag on the maintainance man's yard cart.  It always seems like there are way more Canadians than Americans wherever we go and they are a fun-loving group.  They love their happy hour, which starts between 3:00 and 4:00 everyday and lasts until 7:00 or 8:00 or so.  You see and hear groups all over the campground, some with their own live music.    

This sign was on the patio right across from our camp sight.

I've seen this saying, but was surprised to see it all printed out on an RV, though I do agree with the sentiment.

Every campsite has their own orange, grapefruit or lemon tree and they are all delicious.  

There are many bougainvillea bushes like this one and lots of other beautiful flowering bushes and palm trees.               

I noticed this flamingo one of the first days I was out rollerblading around the park.  I thought is was an odd looking lawn ornament, as it just looked like some kind of CD storage rack or something.  I came by another day and I almost didn't notice that someone had added a huge pink bra to make the flat guy look like he had a body.  When I came by again, someone had stuck an orange on his beak.  Oh, those Canadians!

One day we took our new Montana friends on a little road trip to show them Slab City and Salvation Mountain on the north edge of the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley of the Southern California Desert.

We have been here a couple times and I have mentioned it in past blogs, but it was built by a man who lived right here for 28 years and had been in the nursing home the last couple years.  He died just a few days before we were here this time.  It has been designated a National Folk Art Site by the Folk Art Society of America.  A foundation has been established to keep it maintained just as he left it.  Volunteer artists come from all over to spend time here and help take care of it.  If you look closely at the bottom right-hand corner, you can see the yellow steps where the yellow brick road starts. You can follow that pathway to the top for a view of the whole area.  He built everything from stuff he found in the desert or old junk and paint people donated to him.  He made an adobe mud to cover it and painted it all with bible verses, flowers, hearts, etc.

Our new friends, Paula and Duane, inside one part.

Notice the old car doors inside this part.

Some young boys admiring the small chapel.  Notice the collection of old trophies of all sorts.

This is a view looking back down from the top of the mountain toward the Sea of Galilee below.

There are all kinds of old tractors, cars, trucks, even a boat all painted and decorated.

One of these trucks is where he lived for the 28 years he spent out here in the desert creating all this.

Inside the truck.

I joined the Tuesday morning hiking group at the RV park.

It didn't take me long to find out that they were all a little bit crazy, considering that everyone in the group was older than me, some by quite a bit.  Our first hike was at Muggins Mountains Wilderness just a few miles east of Yuma.  We hiked up and down lots of very steep areas with loose rock where I was sure I was going to go sliding away.

Here we were climbing the dry rock face of an old waterfall.

The yellow brittle bush was in full bloom everywhere. but what you can't see in the pictures is there were tiny flowers of all kinds all over the desert floor, purples, pinks, reds, whites, yellows.  So beautiful, when I had time to look around and wasn't afraid of losing my balance and falling.

Mexican Poppies.  The flowers are only about a half inch in diameter.  We only saw a few of these that day.

We hiked up to the base of this pinnacle where we stopped and ate the lunch we had packed and hiked some more.  We hiked around four miles or so most days.

We stopped to have a look at this field on our way back to town.  No one knew what this plant was, but we later found out that it was an artichoke field.

The second week, we headed a few miles west of Yuma where we hiked up Pilot's Knob, so called because the river boat pilots knew they were almost to Yuma when they could see the knob-shaped peak.  This area was very barren.  I saw no flowers or hardly any plant growth of any kind.  This view is looking back toward the free desert camping area on BLM land and the tiny town of Felicity up in the far right corner, an interesting sight all of it's own that I have also written about before.  The tiny white speck on the little hill just in front of the little mountain in the background is the Felicity Chapel.  There are lots of sand dunes just west of here for those who like to go four wheeling.

Facing the south from the top we can see the little Mexican town of Algodones just over the border where it is fun to do a little shopping and have tacos and margaritas or a cervesa for lunch and join in, or just sit back and watch, the party.  The straight line across is the canal and the curvy black line is the Mexican border fence.  

When we got back to the bottom, we stopped to explore this deserted desert home of an old timer who is now gone.


 His make shift home has become a sort of curiosity and is covered with graffiti.

But a few flowers pop up, even around the trash, trying to make it beautiful, too.

The next week we drove about a half hour north of Yuma to Squaw Lake and Senator's Wash.  Completely different terrain.  We saw lots of water and just the very tiny flowers on the desert floor, none of the brittle bush or poppies.

Our reward when we reached the peak, was this view of the Colorado River.  Right at the bend of the river, you can see the tour boat, that you can board at the small community at Martinez Lake in the far distance just below the mountains.  We ate our lunch here and enjoyed the view, before continuing on our hike.

We hiked from about 10:00 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon this day, over seven miles and it was quite warm by the time we got done, high 80s.  

I was really bushed and I weighed in six pounds lighter than normal when I got home.  Uffda!

On Saturday mornings, I joined the biking group.  We usually biked about 12 to 14 miles to some restaurant and stopped for coffee or other refreshments before heading back.  One Saturday we went to a golf course country club and another to a Jack-in-the-Box by the Marine Base.  This morning we stopped at Martha's Garden's for the famous date shakes.

We were sitting on the patio enjoying the view of the date orchards and the wildflowers when a group of four wheelers showed up and blocked our view.

Oh well, it was probably time to get pedaling again anyway.

They had an old car show at the RV park one afternoon.  I just love to look at old cars.

They sure don't make interiors like this anymore.  They were just a work of art.

Paula and I did several bike rides downtown along the canals and side streets, stopping to do a little shopping and trying out several restaurants for lunch.  Two of our favorites were Julieanna's on 25th St. outdoors with gardens and Macaws and Peacocks wandering around, and the Garden Cafe in old downtown.  This is the walkway from the street back to the cafe that is hidden in gardens and has various kinds of birds and quaint little shops and even a museum next door in one of the first ever houses in Yuma.  We rode 39 miles one day and 28 and 24 two other days.

Another day we decided to ride down to San Luis on the Mexican border, 25 miles.  The poppies like this and the brittle bush were just continuous in the ditches all the way down.  Awesome!  The guys drove down to pick us up and have lunch with us.  We walked over the border to San Luis, Mexico and had no idea where to go for lunch.  We stumbled into a little place and all they had were tacos with either pork or two kinds of fried pork skins or a combination of all three.  A nice young man explained this to us, as no one who worked there spoke English.  He helped us order and between the four of us we had 8 very small tacos and 4 bottles of coke for $6.80.  They weren't great, but the price sure was right.  John had the combination with the fried pork skins that just looked like tough, chewy noodles to me.  

For our 4th hike we drove almost an hour north of Yuma past the Proving Grounds by where they were doing some parachuting practice to just a little north of Martinez Lake to the Painted Desert.

Sort of reminded me of the Badlands of South Dakota, only more colorful, not just the dreary black and gray.  

Is this really as steep as it looks?  Oh yes, indeed, and lots of loose rock!  I can't believe what all these old codgers are doing!  And that includes me!

Surrounded by beauty in every direction.  So glad I went on these hikes, even if I was a little nervous sometimes.

Beavertail Cactus starting to bloom.

Looking back down the ravine from whence we came.

We were looking for the bee hives which we found and burros.  We saw one running across a ridge in the distance.  Thank goodness we never saw a rattle snake which our leader warned us to watch for, since it was so warm and they would probably be out sunning themselves.

A couple of very unusual looking bugs doing the happy dance.

OOPS!  Looks as if we might have wandered off the trail a bit.  Best head back where we belong.

Pretty view of the Painted Desert.

Following the burro trail.

Heading back to our cars to call it a day.  There were many, many Ocotillo along the drive up here, but none where we hiked.

So I took a picture of this beautiful one in bloom back at our campground at Yuma Lakes about seven miles north of town.  We moved out here a few days ago from Sun Vista.  Our month there was up.

They have many of these creative desert wood sculptures around the campground.

I did a double take when I walked by this one, but figured out that it is supposed to be a Mama kangaroo with a little joey in her pouch.

There are several of these neat old antique wagons scattered about the grounds.

Also, a U.S. Mail Wagon and a J.P. Morgan Cream wagon.  I guess he did all right for himself, coming from those humble beginnings.

Of course, this is my favorite place at this campground, too, especially when it's so hot, high 80s to low 90s.  John says it's time to start heading north.  It's getting too warm.

We weren't too sure what to think of our next door neighbors at this campground.  The little sign in the front window says Vietnam Veteran.  Then on the door God is on my Side, and in the window a picture of an alien that says Believe!   Hmmm?

We hiked along the Gila River gravity canal just north of our campground.  This is a creosote bush blooming with little yellow flowers that are starting to go to seed and look like very tiny fuzzy dandelion heads gone to seed.

The little fishing lake at our campground.

Saturday, the 15th, we went to the Airshow at the Marine Base.  This is one of the F-35s they were talking about on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago.  Each one costs in the billions and they are building 24 a year.  We see them in the air a lot down here doing training flights.

This plane takes off and lands straight up and down like a helicopter.  When it gets in the air, it's props rotate forward and it takes off and flies like a plane.

This 22 year old girl was hanging onto the bottom wing when the plane took off, then crawled up onto the top wing where she rode standing up while the plane did loopty loops and flew upside down and did all kinds of fancy maneuvers and she kept waving to the crowd.

This Harrier Jet also takes off pretty much straight up and down and is one of the few planes left where the pilot actually has control and it's not all computer operated.

The little Jelly Belly plane landed on top of a moving pickup.

Thursday we drove out to the Yuma East Wetlands Park right on the Colorado River just a few blocks east of old downtown.  The paved bike trail runs along the park and there are several hiking trails through gardens along the river.

This is a beautiful area that used to be pretty much a city dump.  Through grants and renovations the last dozen years or so, they have completely changed it.  There is a small duck pond, two playgrounds, a burrowing owl habitat, humming bird garden, butterfly garden and a little historic plaza about the Mormon Brigade during the Mexican American War.

After a nice walk here, we went to the movie, "Non Stop".  It was pretty good.  Movies here for seniors are $5.00 at the mall theater and $4.00 downtown, so we have seen several while we were here.

A little sign I saw at our campground that sounded like good advice and we're doing our best to follow it.

And this is one of my favorite sayings.  I have a girlfriend whose motto is, "Always eat desert first, otherwise you might not have room for it."  So true.

We finally left Yuma on Friday, March 28th heading for Utah and on northward, slowly, hoping to see no snow.  Looking forward to seeing all of our northern family and friends soon, especially the grandkids!


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