Friday, January 30, 2015

Navajo Art Show, Yuma, Arizona

I visited an art show today - Navajo jewelry, paintings, weavings and pottery.  The photo above is of an intricate sand painting, matted in a very intricate 4 layer mat pattern.  The design on the mat itself was carved out of each layer which provides the different color variations.  Very impressive work, as indicated in the price tag!
The rug below was a prize winner, it measures about 3' x 5' and woven in an intricate pattern that is very striking.  Price tag was striking also, four figures!  There were some smaller rugs in an approximate size of a placemat and they were only about $300. 
Native Indians all seem to be skilled pottery makers and they all have their own designs and methods.  I was able to watch some Indian artists in Taos, New Mexico last year, and all the painting on the pieces were being done by hand.  I was amazed how they could create such tiny, intricate lines in repetitive patterns and have them all come out perfectly.  Some of the pottery, as shown below, is carved with designs.


 I didn't bother looking at price tags on the pottery since I wasn't in the market - not only do I not have space for it, but I don't have that kind of a budget!  In any case, it was interesting looking at the creations from these American Indians.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day Trip to Algodones, Mexico

I'm staying in Yuma, Arizona, but California is only a short ride across the Colorado River (not at all impressive at this point), and then you're automatically in a different time zone - they're an hour earlier than Arizona is.  There is a huge parking lot just on the State side of the border, owned by an Indian tribe, they have tourists parking there for $6 so we can visit this Mexican city.  They're making quite a nice little income from this huge parking lot.  There were hundreds of vehicles of all kinds in the lot today, including numerous RVs.  The tribe has posted signs prohibiting parking along the side of the road on the way in, even though there is plenty of space.  You can park on the road about a mile from the border, but most people don't want to walk that far.  And of course, there's always that warning about declaring all your money over $10,000 to Customs when you come back.  I've always wished I was well off enough to carry that amount of money with me for spending cash! 

I met up with another solo RVer who had been over to this border city, so it was nice to have a guide who knew somewhat where we were going.  She took me by her dentist's office so that I could get a card for future use - and for just in case.  It's always good to have a recommendation from someone who has actually been there - and was happy with the work.  We walked around town, looking at all the jewelry, blankets, backpacks and other items for sale.  They were bargaining heavily and kept giving us a lower price when we started walking away - one young man started at $50 for a blanket and kept lowering the price until he was at $15.  That was a great discount, but I decided I didn't really need it and didn't want to carry it around all day.  So, in these Mexican tourist towns, don't always expect to pay the price first quoted, and sometimes not the second or third, especially from street vendors.


After we got some items that we decided we needed, we had lunch at a busy restaurant that had outside tables surrounded by various shops.  Of course, we ordered Mexican food, and it was quite good. 

We had heard that crowds lining up to enter the States started lining up at the border in the early afternoon, so we were headed to Customs before the line got too long.  It was a fun day, I always like those trips to foreign countries. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cloud Museum - Bard, California


The overcast, drizzly weather from yesterday finally cleared out by noon today, so I decided to do some exploring.  Just over the Colorado River from Yuma is California and not too far through the agricultural fields, near a community named Bard, is a farm that has been overtaken by over 25 years of collecting antiques and vehicle related objects.  I talked to the owner of the Cloud Museum and he told me he has 140 vehicles in the museum, along with dozens of farm equipment, old fuel pumps, household items and other antiques. 

The next two photos below shows only a few of the vehicles housed in a huge barn a good many of them look in good shape and the owner claims that everything in the museum would run with fuel and a good battery.  He does the mechanic work himself, but for body work or upholstery, he takes the vehicle to Mexico, which is very close. 


The next photo is an early RV, labeled a "house car".  It's from 1930 and has a bathroom (of sorts), stove and all sorts of cabinets.  The second photo shows the inside - bunk beds!  Nice for it's day, but I like my 5th wheel better.
These are only a few of the tractors in this collection, and the farm equipment is not included in the count of 140 vehicles.


There were numerous rows of these vehicles, and I don't think anything was newer than 1940.  I did see one 1960s car in the entire collection, which was the newest vehicle in the museum.

In addition to all these vehicles, extra engines sitting in a row and a collection of antique outboard motors, there was a few small buildings with antique furniture, kitchen equipment (dozens of cast iron cookware) and other household items.  He had numerous pot belly stoves of different sizes and old hand wringer washers.  There was one area full of tools, jack stands and other equipment I didn't recognize.  One little cottage was set up as an old post office.

I was amazed at the amount and variety of antiques this person has accumulated in the past 25 years.  I guess some of us are collectors and others are minimalists, which is the category I seem to keep fitting into.  Still, it's fun to see what other people have in their collections.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Summer Plans - 2015

This is a photo of one of the more dramatic places I explored last summer - Tent Rocks in New Mexico.  This rock formation is called a slot canyon - you can hike through the slot to find other areas with bizarre rock formations that look like tents - teepees.  I did a blog on it last year with more photos.
The reason I was digging around in my old photos today was because it was a cool, drizzly day and I didn't want to go anywhere.  I've been looking at maps and lists of places I wanted to see this summer.  It will be a busy summer, lots of hiking and fun things to see. 
When the weather warms up I'll head to northern Arizona, where the elevation is anywhere from 4,000 feet and higher.  There are good portions of the old Route 66 I want to drive, and from all reports, some should not be done hauling a trailer.  So, I will leave my 5th wheel and explore in the truck.  I hope to get to the Grand Canyon and down to Sedona, where there are energy vortexes as well as great hiking.  I have to stop at Winslow, Arizona because that's where the statue is - Standing on the Corner, in honor of the Eagles' song Take it Easy.  Gotta get a photo of myself with that statue! 
Shortly after that, I'll head north to another canyon and then back into New Mexico.  My camping permit is still good there and I can camp for $4 per night, with hookups.  There are a few things in the northwest part of that state that I missed last year.  After that, I'll head into the southwest corner of Colorado to see a few things and on into Utah.
Utah has a good selection of national parks and monuments in the eastern part of the state and most of them offer camping, although without hookups.  I'll be able to see arches, canyons and other rock formations.  There are unlimited hiking and photographing possibilities in this area.  Depending on how long all this take me,  I'll make my way to a few other areas and then head south for the winter. 
I know from living on a sailboat down in the Caribbean that all plans are never written in stone - we used to say that our plans were written in sand at low tide.  Luckily, I'm used to being flexible and wherever I am, I'll be exploring that area.

I'm hoping that fuel costs will stay low - I was able to find this the other day, while other stations were posting $1.95ish.  Gas Buddy is a great app to find out where the bargains are in your area.

Here's hoping all my fellow RVers have a fun, safe summer wherever they go. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Road Runner Alert!

I have been known to be impulsive, and today was one of those days.  As I was coming into the RV Park where I've been staying, I noticed a road runner walking along.  They walk because they prefer it and can reach top speeds of 15 MPH - by that time, they're running - fast!  This guy was wandering around aimlessly, so I pulled the truck over, put on my flashers and grabbed my camera.  I got out as quietly as I could and started stalking him. 

By the time he went in someone's yard, I decided I'd better not follow.  There were a couple people out for their daily walk and as I walked back to my truck I figured I should let them know what was going on.  Obviously, they hadn't seen the bird.  When I told them it was a road runner alert, they grinned and told me they were wondering what I was doing, leaving my truck and walking around with my camera.

Such a cool critter!   I just love these little birds.  And this is why I always have my camera with me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bridge to Nowhere (McPhaul Bridge) near Yuma, Arizona

Today I set out to find a couple sites that were described in one of the tourist brochures for Yuma. The sign above is from the historic downtown area. There were antique shops, jewelry and clothing stores as well as other shops.  That was fun, but I wanted to find something more off-the-wall.

I wanted to find the Bridge to Nowhere that was built back in 1929 and then abandoned once it was built because it was judged to be "too flimsy". This bridge is an 800' suspension bridge to go over the Gila River, which has since been diverted. The bridge is now behind a farm store and surrounded by fields full of veggies growing.


I thought it was funny that I'd find another Bridge to Nowhere, since I had seen one that was built in St Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The one in St Thomas still hasn't been attached to anything on either side of it, and there are doubts that it will ever be connected, even though it is much more modern than the one I saw today outside of Yuma. Your federal tax dollars at work!

Yuma is a very agricultural area and there were fields full of produce ready to be harvested as well as fields that had been planted recently.

The most interesting field I saw was one with various colored "greens". I find it interesting that they went to the trouble to make it so symmetrically colorful.


So, that was my fun for today.  The weather has been great, sunny and in the high 70s during the day but cold at night still.   I'm ready for the weather to get warmer at night so I can move north to higher elevations.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Yuma Territorial Prison, Arizona

The other day, I went to prison again. The first time was Alcatraz in California some years ago, this time it was the Yuma Territorial Prison in Arizona. I committed no crime, it just happens that I like touring strange, unique places.

The Yuma prison was in operation for 33 years, from 1876 to 1909 and there was a total of 3,069 prisoners housed there during that time, including 29 women. The main cellblock was set up to hold 204 prisoners, but there had been times the population increased to 240. A 9' x 12' cell would hold 6 prisoners, bunks stacked 3 on each side of the cell. Prisoners were jailed for any type of cime from adultery and polygamy to murder and mayhem.

Punishment in the prison was sometimes a ball and chain or, in more extreme cases, the Dark Cell. The Dark Cell was a large room dug into the hillside with only a small vent built into the ceiling for air and light. Prisoners were put in an iron cell inside, in just their underwear. They were given no bedding and there were no restroom facilities. Depending on the severity of the infraction committed, the prisoner could be sentenced anywhere from one day to multiple days in the Dark Cell. One man spent 104 days straight in that cell, but when he was released back into the regular prison area, he turned out to be a model prisoner. The Dark Cell was not solitary and at one time, was occupied by 3 women prisoners.

Mug shots were taken of all prisoners and the photo below shows a special mirror that was used to show a side view as well as a front view.  The prisoner would sit in a chair, put his shoulder under the curved part of the frame on the bottom and the side of his face would be shown in the mirror and captured on film.  The mirror is reflecting a wood paneled wall in this photo. 

In 1887 there was an escape planned by 7 prisoners. This happened at the Sallyport, the main entrance to the cellbock areas, and has been known as the Gates Riot. Superintendent Gates was taken as hostage and he ordered the prison guards to shoot the prisoners. When it was all over, some prisoners were killed and the others were recaptured.

There was a hospital above the main cellblock, which include offices, operating rooms and ward rooms. Sometimes, prisoners from other areas would be transported to this hospital. At this time, nothing remains of this second story.

In 1910, a year after the prison closed, the Yuma High School was housed in the prison until 1914. At a football game one day, the opposing team started taunting the students, calling them "criminals". Instead of being insulted, the students decided that would be a great nickname for the team - and was sometimes shortened to "Crims". The high school team still goes by this name.

In 1923, the railroad tore down some of the buildings to build a new railroad bridge, which is still in use today.  These tracks are well used, I managed to catch photos of a couple different trains that went by while I was in the park.

From 1941 to 1960, the prison was a City Museum and then turned over to the State of Arizona to become the third state park. In 2010, the state was going to close the park, but the citizens of Yuma voted to take over the park, rehabilitate it and run it as a city park.  I'm glad they have been taking care of a piece of history because I enjoyed the tour.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Puerto Penasco is known locally (mostly to the gringo population) as Rocky Point.  Some people from the US and Canada drive down in their RVs, there are multiple parks, some are right on the beach, along with condos for sale.  The statue above is on the Malecon, a plaza in the tourist district, right on the Sea of Cortez.  There is a restaurant on stilts built out over the rocky shore of the Sea, where we had lunch.  There were four of us, my traveling friend, Robin, plus a Canadian couple who drove us all in their truck.  It was about 1 PM when we went to the restaurant, and by then, the thick fog that we drove into miles before we arrived in the city finally dissipated so that we had sunshine and calm water.  Dolphins were in groups rolling in the blue water and fishing birds were searching for their next meals.  Bright, beautiful and calming scenery.

It was bright and sunny when we left the restaurant, and we took some tourist-type photos and visited the local shops.  My photo is below, keeping someone's drink safe to be used as props for the photos. Check out all the pelicans on the rocks behind me, they were exhausted from following the fishing boats, hoping for a handout. 

We wandered back to the Malecon after looking through some shops, and found the little guy below, a man had him on a leash on the bulkhead along the rocky shore. 

The photo below shows a sculpture and columns on the Malecon, obviously taken before the fog lifted.  The explanation was in Spanish and I don't know enough to translate, but it was impressive.

After enjoying the sunny weather, we went to find a beach where we could get sand in our shoes.  Then, a nice relaxing ride home with almost no traffic.  Thanks go to our Canadian friends for the fun trip and especially for driving.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Breaking the Inertia

I have been in Why, Arizona for a month now.  During that time, I have had the most relaxing time doing not much of anything.  I'm really waiting for the winter to get over so I can head north and explore again, in relative comfort since I'm wimpy in the cold weather.  There are hikes in the desert, socializing, and we go play Bingo once a week.  Otherwise, everyone has settled into a relaxed mode and there are no projects that seem urgent.    Obviously, since I can sit waiting for a hummingbird to come by and actually get a picture of one of these guys who whiz around at the speed of light.  I even caught one with a bee flying away from the feeding dish.

I'm totally amazed at how fast their wings move - they can hover, fly backwards and when they're on a trip to the next feeder, you can hear them fly, sounds like a little motor when the buzz right by you.  There are other birds hanging around, the Gila Woodpeckers keep coming to eat out of the hummingbird feeder and other little ones I have no idea what they are. 

Now that it's almost the middle of January, I want to start moving again.  So, in the next few days I'll be moving down the road to a national monument I wrote about in a previous blog, the Organ Pipe Cactus, they have a great campground there.  No hookups, so I might just stay there a few days to do some hiking.  This will get me out of the inertia that I have settled into while I've been here.  Then, I'll head on to Yuma to explore over there and then go slowly north as it warms up. 
Tomorrow I plan to head to Ajo ten miles up the road for a few little parts for my generator - spark plug and gasket.  I'll fill up with fuel and get a few groceries and then in the next day or so I'll head south about 20 miles to the park and get back into the traveling mode. 
Staying a month in one place has been a record for me, since I tend to move around while I'm exploring.  Sometimes I stay just a few days at a spot, other times it might be a week or so.  It just depends on how much I like the area and if I have seen everything I wanted to see. 
I already have been planning where I want to go this summer, making notes on maps and lists of things to see and do.  I'm looking forward to the warm weather and the adventures ahead.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

I went to visit this national monument yesterday with two other solo women RVers, and a cute little dog belonging to one of them.  Robin and I had been through this park before but not on this road.  Parts of the road were paved - the steep areas.  Most of it was dirt and rock, but some parts were better than others.  There were lots of saguaro cactus as well as the organ pipe, which are less prolific - the photo below shows a really nice group of the organ pipe.

I wanted to do some hiking, so we found this arch formation and hiked around to the back of it.  Unfortunately, there was no way to get on the back side of the arch.  As small as it looks in this photo, the arch itself was 36' high, 90' wide and 720' long, I just zoomed in it.  If you look closely at the photo, there is a small arch on top of the large one.  One day, that will fall in as will the larger one, although it will take more time.

In the area behind the arch formation, there are some other interesting rock formations.  And of course, lots of cactus all over the area.
In this part of the country, they have these little shelters called ramadas.  I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that's where Ramada Inn got its name.  The provide just enough shade to make it more pleasant to sit outside. 

Shortly after we got home, this beautiful sunset happened just before the full moon came up.  My full moon photo was not as impressive, but this was a great end to a fun day.