Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NOV 30 to DEC 3 - ON THE ROAD HOME

We left Yuma on November 30th and headed out on the Interstate 8. Approximately 7 miles outside of Yuma we went through the Imperial Sand Dunes and were surprised to see this large desert area of beautiful sand dunes which reminded us of the ones in Oregon. We will definitely want to visit these when we return to Yuma!

We also drove past the Salton Sea which is a salty body of water and part of the Colorado river system that gives life to the Sorona desert. Take any desert and add water and "Presto" things will grow and people will come.

The desert has a magical beauty that is breathtaking. Below is a photo of a Joshua Tree which grow in abundance near Palms Springs.


There are many large wind turbine generator farms just outside Palm Springs which have thousands of windmills which are 150 feet tall and have blades the length of half a football field. They cost upwards of $300,000 and the 4,000 wind farm in the San Goronio pass in the San Berandino Mountains supplies enough electricity to power Palms Springs and the entire Coachella Valley.

We drove through many small towns after Palm Springs as we wanted to avoid Los Angeles and the roads were in very poor condition - I guess since California is broke they have no money to do roadwork. It was getting dark when we stopped at the KOA in Visalia for the night but had only travelled 450 miles as it was slow going on the backroads we used to avoid LA.

The next morning, December 1st, we got up at 6 am to freezing temperaturs and it was very foggy. We were worried about ice on the road and the fog but we took our time and the fog burned off before too long.

As we drove north, the leaves around Merced were turning yellow and by the time we got to Oregon the trees had lost their leaves. In two days, we went from summer, to fall, to winter! Below, you can see the mistletoe in the bare branches of the trees.

The temperatures in northern California were lovely, 20C at Redding then it got cooler as we climbed up the mountains and went through the Siskiyou Pass. We hit the summit of 4310 feet, then the road descended steeply for 6 miles to about 1300 feet, losing about 3000 feet of altitude. It was a nailbiter.

Beautiful views of Mt. Shasta (14,162 feet).



Mt. Shasta Lake had low water level.


We stopped overnight at the Medford/Gold Hill KOA in Oregon after driving 525 miles. It was a long day but we were pleased that it was sunny and there was no snow in the passes. We went to bed early and since we were in freezing temperatures, we were thankful our heater was keeping us warm. The Bennetts were happy that the RV repair service in Yuma did a great job repairing their heater and were also cozy and warm.

December 2nd we were on the road at 7 am and drove in fog until 10:30 then sunny skies as we drove through Oregon and most of Washington. The mountain scenery was beautiful and we drove 500+ miles to stay the final night in Burlington.

We pulled out of the Burlington, Washington, KOA at 7:00 am December 3rd and headed to the border. It was busy on the I-5 but luckily no wait at the border. After a few questions we were through and back in Canada!

Luck was on our side and we caught the 9:00 ferry. We decided to go to the buffet and end our trip the way we began - enjoying breakfast with our good friends, Lana and Barry!


We arrived at the house by noon, unpacked and were happy to be home again. What a great trip, we are so thankful that we got to see so many places and enjoy so many adventures! It was everything we hoped it would be and more!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NOV 29 - TIME TO GO HOME

Christmas is coming and it is very strange to see decorations going up in Yuma and Christmas songs being played at stores and restaurants.

Last night Lana and I went out to get a photo of the Yuma watertower which was lit up for Christmas and had to go onto the Desert Hills Golf Course to get this shot.


On the way back to our RV park, we dropped by to take a photo of the nearby Mine Shaft Pub's "It's 5 o'clock Somewhere" sign which we liked. We decided to go back the next day with the guys for a farewell drink as we are leaving on Monday, November 30th.


No, we did not arrive in the stretch Hummer, it was the owner's.

The outside walls are covered with cute and quaint signs but the inside is quite dingy and it was probably a good thing that it was poorly lit and dark. We decided to sit outside under palapas and near the swimup bar, however there were no swimmer's today as it was 75F and considered cool for Yuma.

Al and April Hayden, Tom and Shelley Brazier and several others from the RV Park joined us and wished us a good trip home. It was a lot of fun and we will miss our Yuma friends and, of course, the beautiful Yuma weather. But after almost four months, we can hardly wait to see our family and friends. We have been very blessed and now hope for good weather for our return trip.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NOV 22 - GOLFING & HOT AIR BALLOONS

Mike and I were golfing with Ted's group at Desert Hills Golf Course this morning and, as we were leaving at 7:15 am, Lana was getting in their truck with camera in hand to see the morning ascension of the baloons nearby.

She was thrilled to see the balloons take off and these are two of her photos.

Lana said 25 balloons took off one after another - beautiful!

As we were beginning to tee off, the balloons appeared in the sky (you can click on photo to enlarge) and it was a great sight for us to enjoy.

Ted, Mike and Ken with balloons in background. Golf, palm trees and hot air balloons decorating the sky - can life get any better?


Me teeing off and trying to keep my eye on the ball and not the balloons.




Yuma watertower on the golf course. You can see it from miles away as the land is totally flat here and this landmark is almost as good as a compass to let you know where you are.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

NOV 21 - YUMA HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL

This is the weekend of the Yuma Balloon Festival and we attended the "Balloon Glow" that was happening at 5 pm in a stadium only a mile from our resort.

When we arrived all the balloons were laid out in the baseball field and they were just beginning to be inflated.

Using a large fan, air was blown into the balloons and I was surprised that they only took about 20 to 30 minutes to fill with air.

A person held a rope attached to the top of the balloon to keep it laying down while it was being filled with air.

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Here is a video of the balloon being inflated.

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Next they turned on the flame and uprighted the basket as you can see in this video. The baskets were tethered to the ground so they would not take off.

People were welcome to come right up to the balloons and watch this event.

Now there were 20 hot air balloons on the baseball field.

As the sky darkened, the announcer would have everyone do a count to 3, at which time the balloon pilots would start the flame which would light up the baloons and "glow". This continued as the night got darker and it was beautiful.


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The amount of heat from the balloon flames on the field was intense. Here is a video close up of the flame being hit.

This was an amazing, beautiful evening and we loved it.
It was followed by fireworks that we got to enjoy from our RV site. We love Yuma!

NOV 20 - ARIZONA MARKET

This is the other flea market in Yuma. It is very large and all items are new. You can get everything from nuts to bolts.

You can get designer "knock-off" purses.

These ladies had a clothing shop with some lovely clothes that they had got from a boutique in Vegas that was closing out. The dress to the right is made of fine metal chain and cost $1500 but was gorgeous. The rest of the items were very reasonable.

Many metallic wall ornaments.

Lots of garden ornaments as well.

This poodle with his sunglasses seemed to enjoy shopping.



Later, our neighbour, Tom, arrived on a motorcycle he purchased to keep in Yuma for the 6 months/year he will be staying here. Barry (of course) had seen the bike and it was too good a deal to pass on. It is a beautiful bike and Shelley is also pleased with it, although Tom has been informed polishing chrome will be his job.
The next day we visited Ted and Giggs at Del Pueblo RV Resort. Spent the afternoon at a "jam" session which had some talented musicians then had a BBQ at Ted's place.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NOV 17 - LOS ALGODONES, MEXICO

We returned to the border Mexican town with Lana and Barry. We were immediately approached by sellers and Mike and Barry both got leather chaps at a very good price. After more shopping, we stopped in this courtyard for "cervesas" and enjoyed Mexican music.

Thought it would be fun to take a photo of one of the many signs for drugs available - especially "Magic Pills" and where it says "And More Staff". It is amazing how busy these stores are.
This time we had a half-hour wait in line to go through US Customs - this is considered a short wait as it can sometimes take 2 to 3 hours. Everyone in line is friendly and two sisters behind us said they had flown in to Yuma for a few days just to come down to have dental work done in Los Algodones. One of them had just gone to a dentist after she had just been given a business card from someone on the street. I found this very strange, but they seemed happy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NOV 16 - MITTRY LAKE

Spent the afternoon with Tom and Shelley, the Bennetts and their dogs, Luke and Rudy, who were going to enjoy a swim. We drove out towards Mittray Lake which is actually a man-made lake from Colorado River overflow waters and about 14 miles from Yuma.

We passed many acres of farmland. The soil is sandy and grows all kinds of produce. Irrigation is supplied from the Colorado River and voila, the desert is fertile!

The area is surrounded by mountains and we stopped for lunch before heading to the lake.

This was the view from the restaurant in the small town of Martinez Lake which had many residences for sale, but it was not a place I would like to stay in. Too far from anything and very dusty.

This house would have been an exception for me to stay there and I was told it was a private residence that was a one bedroom home. I guess they don't want visitors.

Along the way to the lake, we passed the US Army Proving Grounds which had a display of rockets and tanks that had been tested there for use in the Middle East.

Rudy and Luke really enjoyed their swim in Mittry Lake. Luke would swim far out to fetch his frisbee and Rudy was so cute retrieving his little turtle toy which Barry would only throw a few feet in. Rudy would come back with his turtle as proud as punch - pretty good for a dog that is 12 years old.

It is amazing what happens when water is added to desert.
There were beautiful marshlands surrounding the lake and many birds around.
We continued a bit farther to "Betty's Kitchen", an area named after a restaurant that had been in a small residential area here that was destroyed by flooding in 1983. Nature quickly reclaimed this area which was lovely to walk through. In these trees you can see balls of "Desert Mistletoe" which is actually a parasitic plant that grows onto trees. It has small brown leaves and produces red berries that the birds love to feed on.
These trees were like feathery pines, however any tree you touch is very dusty from wind blowing the desert sand and dirt around. We had a fun day and when we returned both Mike and Barry had to clean off our black trucks as they were covered in dust as well.

We had a great surprise yesterday when we returned from a bike ride and discovered Al and April had decided to move to our RV Park and will stay here until March. We are delighted to have them close by and we enjoyed a glass of wine with them in the evening as the sun was setting.