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Friday, April 27, 2012

Yuma, Arizona in the Spring

We returned to the Yuma Lakes RV Park on April 5, 2012 for a two-week stay (used Coast 2 Coast).  You might recall that we were in this park in early December last year and really enjoyed the reasonably priced food made nightly in the activity center.  We were looking forward to more of the same during this trip, but were badly disappointed.  Apparently this park closes down on May 15, but begins dismantling their programs starting on April 1 (they charge the same amount without guilt).  It is a very different park without the activities.  It is a good ways outside of Yuma (about 10 miles) and a long drive to get to any of the attractions, stores, or restaurants.  All of the remaining patrons were shoved into a small bit of the park.  We eventually moved to another part of the park to get satellite TV and they quickly put the next five rigs right around us.  The logic for this placement still baffles us.   The temperatures in Yuma in April were in the mid to high 90s and the 30 amps available at this park would hardly handle the air conditioner.  We had to be careful to turn everything off to run the microwave or coffee pot.  We would still recommend the park in the winter, but will not return again in the spring. (So on the Moore scale of 1-10 we give it a 6 in the winter and a 2 in spring!)

The Yuma county fair was going on when we arrived so we took a day to attend.  Among the usual food venders, the midway, and rides we also found nice exhibitions of art, crafts, and animals.  Here are a few pictures.

Exotic wild Armadillo at the Fair

Exotic Turtle at the Fair

Part of the quilt exhibit at fair

One of the winning entries at the County Fair

There are two historic sites to see while in Yuma:  The Quartermaster Depot and the Yuma Territorial Prison.
The Quartermaster Depot dates back to the days when the Colorado River still ran wild, before the numerous dams that were placed along its length to control the erratic floods and draughts.   In those days supplies for the Arizona Territory could come up the River from Mexico by paddle wheeler and from Yuma could be distributed to the major outposts of the territory.  In the early 1900s the Depot was given to the Bureau of Reclamation who build a dam and worked on the American canal and a siphon the runs under the Colorado River bringing water to the farmlands in Yuma County.  Here are a few pictures of our trip to the Quartermaster Depot.

Diving suit used by divers during the building of the "Siphon" under the Colorado River

Passenger Train Car from the last century

Unloading cargo at the Quartermaster Depot

Wagon used to haul freight around the Arizona Territory during the late 1800s

One of the Depot's warehouses

The territorial prison was established in Yuma in the mid 1800s.  It was a grim place when seen through the lens of the present day, but was considered progressive in its day.  The prison housed both men and women (only 27 in its history) and prisoners were expected to work each day.

One of the cell blocks each door reveals an 8x6 room that housed 6 prisoners

Work wagon at the prison

Another cell block with the "dark room" & women's cells

Picture of a picture of the prison library ... very progressive!

The main guard tower at the prison

We took a couple of trips into Los Algodones, Mexico (which is still safe for Americans to visit).  We had lunch (not quite as good as some of the Mexican restaurants on the American side of the border) and margaritas (much better and cheaper than on the American side) …  At any rate Los Algodones is definitely worth a trip if you are in this area.  The best way to visit is to park your car on the American side and walk in.  There are no delays entering Mexico, but there is a line that can be up to two hours long on the return trip.  If you can find a bicycle taxi, they will shuffle you to the front of the car line for $5 each and cut your wait down considerably.  You can download the rules for what you can and cannot bring back at the US Customs web site.

A nice place for a Margarita

Plenty of shade

And a big outdoors porch

After two weeks we were more than ready to leave.  It was hot and uncomfortable (at least for us … our ideal temperature range is around 60 F – 80 F) and there were limited things to see and do.

Until next time ... keep doing what you love!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Verde Valley - Arizona

The Trip from Bullhead City to Cottonwood, AZ

From Bullhead City we headed for the Verde Valley in Arizona.  We went out I 40 and then down I17 to our destination (the shorter route though Prescott and over the hill through Jerome is a zigzag route not recommended for RVs).  There are few, if any, rest stops along this stretch of I40 so we swung off the I40 into the town of Seligman, AZ.  There is not much here, but there was parking for our RV in the motel next to the Road Kill CafĂ© (you kill it … we grill it!).  The Road Kill is a great name, and makes for a terrific picture, but the food is average, the portions are on the small side, and the price is above average.  We recommend you stop and take a picture, but eat somewhere else.

You Kill it ... we grill it!

Our Park:  Thousand Trails - Verde Valley

We arrived at the Thousand Trails – Verde Valley and went in search of our site.  If you want 50 amps (and we did) you can call in advance and reserve a site.  Fifty amps here is $3, $4, or $5.  We were lucky and found a nice $3 a day site (H14).  The H section is our choice in this park … it is  close to the clubhouse and store.  However, if you use the swimming pool a lot, you may want to go on down the hill to the A, B, or C sections.  This RV park is well maintained and managed.  Occasionally you will find a ranger who takes their badge too seriously, but the majority are very friendly.  We will definitely come back to this park and give it a solid 8 out of 10. (To get a 10 from us, a park must have 50 amps as part of the base cost, and park-wide free Wifi as well as all of the other amenities you would expect at a resort, have a secure entrance, and be clean and well maintained, etc.    We take off one point for each shortcoming, and three points if security is an issue.  An eight is a pretty good score from us … think of it as an A-).


The weather this year has been unusual everywhere, but we have been able to avoid most, but not all, of it.  On our second day in the Verde Valley is snowed …  in March … in Arizona’s desert!  Since we didn’t have to drive in it, we thoroughly enjoyed it!   The flakes were big and fluffy and finally stuck to the roof of the car and the surrounding hills.  It was gone in the park within a few minutes and most of it was off the surrounding hills and mountains within a few days, but it was a really nice change.  We hunkered down and drank warm drinks and enjoyed the temporary chill.

Rain mixed with Snow fell most of the day

The snow stuck just long enough to snap this picture of snow on the car's roof

What to See

There is a lot to see and do in the Verde Valley Area including a number of interesting Native American ruins, Sedona’s red rocks and vortexes, Flagstaff and Jerome.  There are also quite a few nice places to eat and a few unusual and interesting shops (we took advantage of the Cottonwood Olive Oil store and Orion Bread in old town Cottonwood … could this be why we are gaining more and more weight???).

Jerome is a mining town up Hwy 89A that is built into the side of a mountain.  It has numerous quaint shops and restaurants, as well as art galleries and a nice small museum that explains the history of the area.  It turns out that the guy that founded Las Vegas (Clark … as in Clark County) also founded Jerome …  He apparently was really good at making winning calls in the mining business… and was rich … filthy rich (hurray for him!).  Jerome is a mile high and still had a bit of snow on the day we visited.

Mining Equipment in Jerome

Clark's summer home

View from Jerome of Clarkdale and beyond

Mining Equipment at Jerome

The ruins up and down the Valley are similar to those found at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.   Some are built into the side of mountains like those at Montezuma’s Castle, while others are on bluffs (Tuzigoot) overlooking the Verde River or its streams and creeks.   All of them are historically interesting and provide an excellent picture of life in the Verde Valley before Europeans came.  One of the fascinating things regarding all of these ruins is that the people who occupied them disappeared around 1400 AD … and no one really knows why … there are many theories (famine, disease, aliens, etc.) but no facts.  Another thing that we enjoy at each of these sites are the placards describing the various native plants and how they were used by Native Americans for everything they needed including food, pharmaceuticals, dyes, thread, needles, and more.

Montezuma's Castle (although the Aztecs were never in the area)

A better perspective of the castle -- 4 stories high

Dwellings around Montezuma's Well

Montezuma's Well

Lynda at Montezuma's Well
One of the Trails Around Montezuma's Well

Sure Enough ...  Leaves of Three ... Leave them be!

Tuzigoot Ruins

Tuzigoot Ruins

While there are additional ruins around Flagstaff, our visit concentrated on a visit to Northern Arizona University where one of our granddaughters (Kaitlyn) will be attending in the fall.  We toured the campus on our Segways and took a few pictures of the sites.  We really enjoyed the School of Forestry with their lumberjack facilities (the mascot is the Lumberjacks).  The field and other facilities are really nice as well.  Kaitlyn should have a great time here!

Welcome ...  Hope you can find a place to park!

Once on foot there is bus service

Snow still on the ground ... Flagstaff is at 7000 feet altitude

The forestry building

View from the campus ... nice!!

Prescott also has a very nice old town area across from the county court house.  The day we arrived in Prescott two or three groups were holding demonstrations.  The tourists generally ignored these folk and continued with their visits to one of the numerous eating and drinking establishments along the main drag in old town Prescott.  There are also quite a few cute little shops along the way.  We each bought a new hat for summer (Lynda’s is a nice straw and mine is made from Palm leaves).  Another highlight of our Prescott trip was the small pie shop we found (delicious, but expensive!).  For those of you looking for shopping, Prescott has a Costco, Trader Joes, and all of the other usual suspects.

Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on earth!  We spent a couple of days there and visited the Chapel and a couple of vortexes.   One of the vortexes required a two-mile strenuous climb up a rocky and steep trail.  We stopped often to enjoy the scenery and take a few pictures and finally arrived at the end of the trail.  The views are worth the hike and there are many others that are available depending on how long one will be in the Sedona area.  Here are a few pictures … but you really have to see this in person! 

Sedona is surrounded by red rocks

Beautiful formation

Kim with rocks in background

A cholla in bloom

More Red rocks

A Mountain begging to be climbed
Lynda ... up to the challenge?

Climbing to a Vortex

Apparently not everyone gets out alive!

Strict Warning against hang gliding ... oops forgot ours!!

Lynda on the trail!

The trail goes up!

And up

This is the vortex rock

It is beyond this point

Still more up!

Then some down

Kim reaches the top ..  a bit out of breath

The view from the vortex rock

Yep .. the end of the trail ... now back down ... what was that about a hang glider?

 Until next time ... do what you love!