A quick trip to Sedona

After a relaxing week at Pueblo El Mirage RV and Golf resort in El Mirage, Arizona, we headed north to Camp Verde, Arizona, where we met up with our friends Tom, Ellen, Kathy and Steve.  They are on their way to the West Yellowstone, Montana area for their summer jobs.  We stayed at Distant Drums RV Resort, a very nice park, and conveniently located to everything we wanted to see.  There are so many things to see and do in northern Arizona, that we may have to consider a summer work camping job here just to see everything!  (it’s at a higher elevation, so the temperatures are not so hot in the summer).

We took a drive up to Sedona (about 15 miles north of Camp Verde) and did a short hike to view Cathedral Rock from Oak Creek Park.

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Steve, Kathy, Ellen, Tom, Dan and I

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Cathedral Rock in Sedona

 

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old pump house and water wheel

The trail winds around Oak Creek river, and many people have stopped to stack rocks, which is called cairns.

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Cairn rocks

We did attempt to watch a sunset over the rocks in Sedona.  The sunset itself was a bit of a dud that night, but the color changes on Thunder Mountain were nice.

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Thunder Mountain before sunset

 

As the sun was setting….

 

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Long shadows, followed by the rocks lighting up from the setting sun…

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Dan decided to photo bomb my sunset pictures!

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Stay tuned, more to come from Sedona

Quote for the day:  “Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.” – Mattie Stepanek

 

Winter work camping is done!!

We have finished up our 6 months of work camping at Westwind RV and Golf Resort in Yuma, Arizona!  It was our longest work camping job that we have done since we started our journey in 2013.  And we’re going to do it again (for 1 more year) this fall!  This season, Dan and I both worked 3 days a week, Thursday – Saturday.  Dan worked 24 hours each week, on the golf course. In exchange, we received our full hook-up site, including all utilities, for free.  I worked in the office, for minimum wage (currently $11.00/hour in Arizona) averaging about 28 hours/week.

In total, I made approximately $8,000 for the 6 months of work (I haven’t received my last paycheck yet, so I don’t have the exact gross pay figures).  Our expenses were minimal, as we did not have to pay anything for 6 months of rent/utilities.  Laundry was not included, and we spent $225.00 at the on-site laundry facility in the park.  We probably could have found a cheaper laundromat, but the convenience of walking to the facility outweighed the expense.  But the real benefits of being in one spot for so long is all the wonderful people that you meet.  Dan enjoyed working with the full-time year round staff on the golf course and in the maintenance department.  I had great co-workers that made the job fun (shout out to Lori and Roy!!), and a very patient office manager, Kathy.  We never seemed to stop learning…

This fall, Dan will only be working 16 hours/week, 3 days a week.  In exchange, we will receive our site for free, but will have to pay for electric/utilities.  He requested this, because he often finished up his work by lunch, and had to spend the afternoon making “busy work.”  Being a former math teacher, he ran the numbers, and it wasn’t worth working 32 extra hours per month to cover electric/utilities.  It amounted to getting paid just over $4/hour.  I will be back in the office, and the minimum wage in Arizona is set to increase to $12/hour next January.  So that’s a nice perk, as most winter jobs do not pay.

In addition to having a positive experience at Westwind, we decided to come back for several other reasons.  We are planning on going to Alaska in 2020, but not to work, just to play tourist.  Having an income over the winter season will help to offset the loss of income in the summer.  Also, we really enjoyed getting together with our friends Dave and Marilyn.  It was a pleasant surprise when we found out they had moved to the Yuma area and next season our friends Tom and Ellen will be joining us as well.  Tom will work in Guest Services (helping to park RV’s, read electric meters, and whatever else is needed) and Ellen will be in the mail room.  In exchange for their hours, they will receive their site for free, including utilities, and a voucher which they can use at the onsite restaurant, golf shop, and concert tickets (only the office is a paid position).

It took 6 months, but I finally saw my first rattlesnake and roadrunner at the end of March, while playing golf with Dan, Roy and Lyle (who is from Canada and rented a park model a few doors from us).

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A zoomed in view, as it was much smaller (thankfully) than I expected!

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Needless to say, you must keep the ball in the fairway!

It was hard to get a photo of the roadrunner, so this is a bit blurry.  They move fast, and are not as big as I imagined (must have been all those cartoon road runners I watched growing up….beep beep!)  And yes, they can fly, but usually just run around.

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I’m not sure what I prefer, dealing with alligators while golfing in Florida, or rattlesnakes in Arizona.  I think I’ll stick with the safest alternative, Max.  He doesn’t bite!

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What’s next?

We have a month to wander around until we start our summer job, back at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  We spent a week near Phoenix at Peublo El Mirage Golf and RV resort (very nice), just relaxing, and are now near Sedona for a few days.  We have met up with Tom and Ellen and Steve and Kathy who are all on their way to West Yellowstone for their summer work camping jobs.  I will have a new post about the Sedona area in the not too distant future.

I’m not sure what the name of this cactus is, but it was in full bloom at the RV park in El Mirage.  We were told it only blooms for one day each year.  Since we were leaving the park the next morning, I was not able to go back and verify if the flowers were still in bloom.  It was beautiful though!

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Quote for the day:  “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

Yuma Territorial Prison

We have finished up our work camping in Yuma, and have moved on to the Phoenix area for a week of relaxation.  I will do a final post on our work camping experience, but I wanted to finish up on our Yuma posts first.  We always enjoy visiting museums and historical sites, and spent a few hours with our friends Dave and Marilyn visiting the old prison in town.

On July 1, 1876, the Yuma Territorial Prison opened its gates for the first time to prisoners, and continued to accept prisoners, both male and female, until it closed in 1909.  The last prisoners were transferred to the new Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona.

The prison has an interesting history, and is worth visiting if you are in the Yuma area.  Many of the original cell blocks remain, but a lot of the buildings and exterior walls have been demolished to make room for the railroad, or were destroyed in a fire.  This is a photograph of the prison complex when it was in full operation.  At the time, the Colorado River came right up to the rocks.

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The main guard tower was reconstructed on its original site.  The Sally Port remains intact, as well as the buildings behind it, which are not visible on this photo.

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Main Guard Tower

The Sally Port is where the prisoners entered/exited the prison.  It was large enough to hold a covered wagon, with both doors locked, for unloading the prisoners.

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Six prisoners were assigned to each cell, and in 1901, iron bunks were installed, since the wooden bunks became severely infested with bed bugs.

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Marilyn, Dave and Dan

This is the exterior of the six-person cell blocks.   The cage on the left is part of the “incorrigible” ward that was built in 1904, and consisted of five steel cages.

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When prisoners misbehaved, they were sent to the “dark cell,” where they endured 24 hours of darkness, along with snakes and bats.  As part of the guided tour, you go down the hallway into the dark cell, to experience what it was like.  As we discovered, the bats are still there…they didn’t like the flash photography (you can see a few in the photo on the right)

The Yuma prison was “co-ed”, and twenty-nine women spent time in prison (many for adultery).  They had a separate cell that was a bit “nicer.”

The prisoners, not surprisingly, hated the place, but the local community thought the prison was more like a country club.  The museum contains a lot of interesting information about the prisoners, life at the time, and a display of weapons.

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The Yumans perspective:

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The prisoners perspective:

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In 1910, the Yuma high school burned down, and classes were held in the prison from 1910 – 1914 while a new school was being built.  When the Yuma high school football team upset a team from Phoenix, those fans complained it was ‘criminal’ and the school decided to adopt the nickname “Criminals.”   That name remains in place today, and their mascot is the face of a hardened criminal.  It’s the only school in the country where you can rightfully call the students criminals!

Quote for the day:  “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” – Victor Hugo

Military Testing: Yuma Proving Grounds

First off, a special thanks to blog readers Jim P. and Wayne W. who replied on my last blog that this building is a VOR Station, allowing aircraft to use their radio beams to navigate throughout the US.  Always good to learn something new every day!  dsc05652 (1)

About 30 miles northeast of Yuma is the United States Army Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG), which covers 1300 square miles of the Sonoran Desert.  General Motors also operates a test track on the grounds, and permits the Army to test their vehicles on the tracks that GM built, at no cost to the government.  You can visit parts of the YPG, but not the GM facility.  If you do go to YPG, you must have photo identification, proof of vehicle insurance, and current vehicle registration of the vehicle that you are driving, in order to get onto the grounds where the free Heritage Center museum is located.

There is a nice display of weapons that have been tested at YPG since WWII, outside of the facility.  Some have been put into military use, and others discarded as not acceptable.

The facility has a long history, going back to World War II, when the Army trained over one million men and women out in the desert to prepare for combat. General Patton was instrumental in getting this training facility started. He felt this would be an excellent area to prepare the troops for WWII.  The museum has an interesting movie about the WWII training experience, including many first-hand recollections from WWII veterans.

The grounds are still in use today for combat training.  When you drive around in the area, you can see small makeshift cities that our troops continue to train in, to simulate desert conditions in the Middle East.

The museum has displays of what the base was like in the 1940s and 50s.  At the time, these were state of the art technology.  Looking at this telephone, we all started going “one ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” at the same time! (you need to be over 45 to get that)

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XY Dial Central Office Equipment

When testing equipment, it’s is crucial to document and record the test, which is where this Film Processing Machine came into use.

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This camera has been in use since 1944 to record rocket testing.

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RC-2 (Bowen) Ribbon-Frame Camera

YPG is testing items for the modern-day soldier, including this cooling vest that serves as a base layer, and the night vision goggles.

A lot of ammunition gets tested out in the desert, and we could hear a lot of “booms” going off as we walked around on the premises.

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The YPG is also a major testing/training area for parachuting, including high-altitude jumps.  They had one very famous visitor to the area, when former President George H.W. Bush decided to jump out of an airplane at the young age of 72.   The museum has framed a copy of the autographed newspaper on the wall.

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Quote for the day:  “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” – Douglas MacArthur

 

 

 

 

 

A Date (farm, that is)

We do try to have a “play day” with our friends Dave and Marilyn, that live in Yuma, and see various sites in the area.  Dave was trying to find something new to show us, but we got off track and ended up at the Imperial Date Gardens, in Bard, California.  Little did he know this was actually a place that I wanted to see.  I love dates, Dan, not so much.

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The place does offer tours, but since we just happened upon the place, it was not on a tour day.  No one was at the place, but one of the workers took the time to come outside and talk about the date palm trees.  In a very short time, I learned more about dates and palm trees than I thought possible!  It was very interesting, and growing/harvesting dates is a very labor intensive process.  Imperial Date Gardens specializes in the Medjool Date, because, as the manager honestly pointed out, it has the highest profit margin!  They also taste great.  To buy them right at the plant, was very cheap.  I was able to get a pound of extra fancy medjool dates for $5.75.  I should have bought more, as they are double and triple that price in the local stores.

The “male” date palm trees and the “female” date palm trees are carefully populated (I think that was the term he used), and they create little offshoots.

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the “male” trees

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the “female” trees

The male trees and female trees are kept in different areas.  If you stare at the two pictures long enough, you will see the difference between the sex of the tree.  Once a month, they flood the fields to provide water for the tree.  The harvest starts in August, and can go as late as October.

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the “baby offshoots”

 

Because Yuma has over 300 days of sunshine a year, it is a major agricultural area.  Acres upon acres of produce is grown here, and sold throughout the United States.  It is interesting driving around the Yuma area to see the lush green fields surrounded by desert brown roads.  If you check the origin of your winter produce, much of it will come from this area.

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Dave has noticed this white buildings all over the country.  We spotted one in the Yuma area.  We have no idea what it is, other than a government facility of some sort.   We tried to get closer, but there was enough Warning: No Trespassing signs to keep us away.  It is surrounded by acres of romaine lettuce fields.  If you know what this if, let me know.

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Sometimes it’s okay to just wander and get lost.  You never know what you will find.

Quote for the day:  “Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” – Lawrence Block