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

Working and visitors

For the first five years of our full-time RV life, we only worked from mid-May to the end of December.  We spent January thru March just hanging out in Florida, but I would get bored by March.  I need to have something structured to do with my time.  This is the first year we will be working all the way thru mid-April, at Westwind RV and Golf Resort.   (yes I know, “poor us” having to stay in one place for six full months!)

Our current job is a good test to see how this longer winter job will work out for us, from both a financial standpoint, and on my “boredom” meter.  We probably won’t decide until the end of March what we will do next winter.  We really want to give this a good try, and see how everything goes.  Ideally, it would be nice to find shorter term jobs, and be able to travel more.

Work in the office/registration has definitely picked up.  January was very busy, and February has been crazy as well, as this is the peak of the snow bird season.  March is when we start taking reservations for next season, so we don’t anticipate much of a slowdown at work until early April.  Dan has been busy on the golf course, and enjoys cutting the fairways, and rolling the greens.

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But once again we have been faced with the sad reality of life.  Monday we noticed an ambulance down the street from us, in front of the motorhome of the work camper that works opposite days of Dan on the golf course.  His wife had a heart attack, and passed away.  We spent some time with him yesterday, and he told us they should have started RVing earlier in life.  We hear that all the time.  Don’t wait on your dreams, whatever they are.

We did have some visitors this past month, which we always enjoy (our door is always open!)  As Makena posted in her blog, Dan’s parents were able to visit for a couple of weeks.  They were able to golf a few rounds on the par 3 course here in the park that Dan works on, as well as participate in many other activities that go on every day in the park.  They had a great time, and we were happy that they were able to make it out to Yuma for a visit.

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Our friends Joan and Steve stopped in as well.  They volunteer at the Lake Mead Recreation Area in Nevada.  Due to the government shutdown, they were not able to work, so they drove down for a visit.  We learned some new card games, and talked about future work camping and volunteer jobs. We also got together with Henry and Terry, that work in the pro shop here.  All six of us worked together at Crazy Horse Memorial, so it was nice reminiscing about that summer.

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Joan, Jonell, Dan, Terry, Henry and Steve

Friends from Wisconsin, Dean and Jeannie texted us that they were passing through Arizona on their way to California for a volunteer work camping job, so we had a quick breakfast visit.   They spend the winters traveling in their Airstream, and summers back in Wisconsin.  It’s probably been five years since we have seen them, and it was great catching up with their adventures.img_2333

While Dan’s parents were visiting, Dan’s cousin Dave and his wife, Dee, stopped by as well.  They are over-the-road truck drivers, and were in Yuma to pick up a load.  It was a quick hello, as they had three days to get to Georgia.

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The big Quartzsite RV show took place at the end of January, and we drove up to check it out.  It was basically a giant flea market, but we did meet up with Terry and Wendy for lunch.  And as you can see, it was cold out in the desert!

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Our park has a concert series where they bring in tribute bands, and we have attended several of the concerts.  Some good, some okay.  Dan’s parents were able to see ‘December of 63,’ a tribute to Franki Vali.  It was an excellent show, and Dan’s mom was able to meet the band!

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And then there was the very energetic ABBA tribute band…

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Quote for the Day:  “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

The dog blog is back for another year!

Hello everyone!  Your favorite dog blogger is back!  And Happy (belated) New Year!!  My parents need to leave the computer open and the wifi on while they are busy at work, so I can keep my peeps updated more often!  For those new to the blog, I’m a little Jack Russell Terrier that likes to take over the blog once in a while, and post about my life on the road.

 

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Keeping my peeps informed!

Normally my parents do their work camping thing (which pays for my toys and treats) from mid-May to the end of December.  I’m not sure that I like this idea of them working all the way through mid-April this year.  Usually I get to spend the first four months of the year being the center of attention.  Now they are off working 3 days a week, and I’m home alone listening to the radio.  I guess it’s better than being back in Wisconsin, where it’s 22 below, and that’s just the air temperature! My mom’s sister Margie sent her this picture this morning.  That is just wrong!  I feel bad for my cousins, Rudy and Reagan.  They are German Shorthair Pointers, so they have even less hair than I do!  I would need to use a litter box, because there’s no way I’m going outdoors to pee in that temperature!

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I did get to go with my parents to San Diego (thanks Gary and Julia for booking a dog-friendly house so I could come along!).  I’ve visited the Atlantic Ocean several times in Florida, and was excited to get my paws wet in the Pacific Ocean!  I’m officially a coast-to-coast traveler now!

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My mom and I sat down for our regular photo with my cousin Simon.  That tiny baby has grown into a handsome young boy.

Simon has also grown into the perfect height for getting snacks!  I’ve taught him well.

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I was super excited when my grandparents came to visit me here in Yuma!  They have been very busy with golfing, line dancing, playing cards and participating in many other activities in the park.  When they came over, gramps was a little pooped out, and grandma was more interested in her iPad.  I feel left out….

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sigh…

Longtime readers may recall that grandpa and I share the same birthday, March 20.  They will not be here in March, so we decided to have an early birthday celebration, with gramps turning 82, and I will be 12!  The cake was delicious!

 

Looking at the photo with 2 candles, has caused me to reflect on the 10 years that have passed since the last time I had 2 candles on a cake.

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just a pup at age 2

I now have some gray behind the ears, but I think I still look great for my age!  Back then, we were living in a house, and I enjoyed playing with the neighbor kids, Adam, Faith, Josh and Ben.  They would play football with me, which I enjoyed.  But I really enjoy living in a fifth wheel.  The smaller space suits me better, and I get to meet people from all over the country, and discover new spots to sniff and pee.   Life is good!

Quote for the day:  “A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.” – Robert Benchley