Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunny? Yuma

The RV park after the storm. We were glad to be on a high spot.
Joan and Dick Morgan
Dave & Kathy Bennet and Nanc
The happy baker. It was delicious!!!
Yuma Territorial Prison
Top; Guard Tower and Main Gate
Bottom; Model & Cell Block
A prisoner in a cell and getting his mug shot.
Yes, even women were housed here.

We are spending two weeks at the River Front RV Park in Yuma, AZ, a city that holds the record for having the most sunny days a year at over 325. With that in mind, we were shocked to find that the El Nino weather pattern delivered a real drenching our first week here with more than two inches of rain falling in a day and a half. That was well over half their annual precipitation and, since they don't have storm sewers, the water just floods the streets. We did not venture out but we did become concerned when we realized we were by the Colorado River, in the floodplain and on the wrong side of the levee. There was so much rain that school was cancelled and the start of the weekend Lettuce Festival was delayed a day. All that said, we managed to survive and were happy we had vacated the boondocking site at Quartzite before the storm blew through. Other than those couple days of rain, the area has lived up to expectations with warm, sunny skies and nighttime temps that are perfect for sleeping.

Our main reason for coming to Yuma was to see Dick Morgan, who Nanc worked with over 30 years ago at Mobay, and his wife Joan. We have kept in touch mainly with Christmas cards over the years but have not seen them since they left the Pittsburgh area after Dick retired. We got together for lunch and dinner and reminisced about the great times we had with all the people who worked and "partied" together back then. We also made plans to get together a couple more times before we leave. We also had lunch and exchanged travel tales with 07 mates, Dave and Kathy Bennet, who are wintering here. As usual, getting to meet up with new and old friends on the road is one of the best things about this lifestyle.

We did attend Lettuce Days, a festival that celebrates Yuma's contribution to America's salad bowls. For anyone who really knows Nanc, I have had a hard time keeping her out of those fields of leafy greens:) The festival had some great vendors with most selling more arts than crafts. They had Yuma's largest salad bar and a booth selling local produce. They grow most of the country's lettuce here with the year round farming. It is enlightening to see how labor intensive the picking is for the field hands doing this physically demanding job from dawn to dusk.

We took advantage of our free time to do a few chores around the rig. We tried to get the Quartzite dust off the inside and outside and Nanc did some spring cleaning of cabinets. Though it is hard to tell when to do "spring" cleaning when your goal is to be where it is perpetually spring like. Nanc also did a second round of her new endeavor of baking sour dough bread. I must say the results have been fantastic thanks to the help of our good friend, Richard Freyer, who got her started.

We toured the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park the old prison made famous in the movie 3:10 to Yuma and other old Westerns. The prison was used from 1876 until 1909 when it became so overcrowded a new one was built in Florence because there was no room on Prison Hill to expand. Even though the prison was very modern for its time, including a library and an electric generator for lights and ventilation, it was still known as the "Hell Hole of the West". Over 3000 criminals, including 39 women, from murderers to Mormon polygamists were imprisoned there. We found it interesting that most did not serve complete terms since pardons were so easy to obtain. Most of the original walls and buildings are gone except for the main gate, guard tower and cell block that was constructed with stone and reinforced steel. There is a museum with many artifacts and stories about the inmates. After the prison closed the buildings were used for the local school resulting in the unusual mascot name they still use today, the Criminals. Unfortunately, the park is scheduled to close because of the states budget problems. Another example of governmental shortsightedness in a town with almost 25% unemployment. If it is still open, this is a neat spot to take a walk back into the wild west.

1 comment:

Richard said...

The bread even looks superb from Tucson! Next time carve a N in em for Nancy or T in them for Tidball!