October 21, 2008– Yuma, Arizona. One of the hottest places in the U.S. Not too bad this time of year, it’s low 90s right now.
We started off the day at Starbucks — not much of a breakfast in this hotel and we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to our morning ritual. There are 3 Starbucks in Yuma and so we chose the one that seemed like it would bring us closest to downtown so that we could explore after.
Yuma is pretty much like any small city though it has an interesting history mainly predicated on the fact that it was the best place to cross the Colorado River. (It was originally called Colorado City.) It was during the Gold Rush that the place got on the map — when so many people were passing through to California. The town decided they didn’t like everyone just passing through so the officials decided that anyone who couldn’t prove that they had enough money to stay in California, couldn’t cross. That’s one way to populate a city!
Yuma has always played a key role in the military. Fort Yuma overlooked the strategic river crossing. In 1854, the Gasden Purchase was ratified making Yuma part of the U.S. The U.S. Army determined the easiest way to bring supplies to new forts in the lands taken from Mexico was to bring supplies by sea up the river to Yuma. From Yuma, thousand of tons of supplies were then transported by 20-mule teams throughout the southwest.
The U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot — which we visited today — was in operation from 1860s to the 1880s. During this time, before the Colorado River was all dammed up, they ran steamships right to the Depot.
It was quite by accident that we ended up at the Quartermaster Depot. We decided to drive over the border into California (hey, I should have “text” my sister Wendy to let her know that I was in a new state!). Meanwhile, we realized that Mexico was just “over there” — maybe was even responsible for the haze of smog hiding the mountains. We tried to get a picture but nearly ended passing through the border — so we turned around quickly before things got complicated.
As we came back over the Arizona border and noticed the entrance to an historical park. So, we drove in. We hesitated because they wanted an entrance fee — but when we realized it was only $3 each we decided to see what they had. And, it was money well spent. We spent hours here, it was so fascinating. My only regret was that I hadn’t grabbed water before we started.
There museum shows changes in transportation (wagon train, steamboat, train, auto, trucks), communication (pony express, telegraph), as well as the duties of the quartermaster station and changes in soldier uniforms and equipments. Looking at the displays in the buildings gave the imagination quite the fun work out.
After visiting the Quartermaster Depot, we went looking for the historical downtown area — it’s small but really cute. You can see what Yuma is trying to do to set it up as a visitor’s attraction. The rest of Yuma, however, is not that attractive.
We saw more of the farmland today. One thing we can say about Yuma is that it has water — a lot of water. After all the desert for the past few weeks it is actually overwhelming. You should see how much water comes out of shower — and that’s not to say that we’ve had bad showers up to this point — but this one most certainly does not have the water saver installed. Because the plants are just being started, I don’t know what they are but I looked it up and they are grow grain, hay and cotton and, of vegetables are playing more of a role. So, they could be planting anything.
We came back to the hotel and I went to the pool and read a book (The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) for awhile. Oh, how nice!