Thoughts from Marilee, page 2

We continued following the Rio Grande River in Texas up to El Paso. This area of the country is primarily Mountainous and Desert, with many different specimens of cactus. We bought a book on "Cactus of the Southwest" so we could learn to identify the different types and what they can be used for. So far, we are only doing fair with this project. From West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona we have found that most of the towns are small and are rare, but the scenery has been great. I frequently wonder what it was like for people 100 years or more ago that traveled this area. Life for them could not have been easy.

We entered New Mexico at the southern part from El Paso, which was about 2/3 of the way across the state. The weather was chilly, in the lower 60’s in the day and 30’s within an hour of the sunset. I know that is not bad for December weather, but we did not want it any colder. If we had gone to the northern part of the state, it would have been much colder. Snow had been forecast for some parts of the state in the north. We chose to stay in the southern part of the state and come back at a different time of the year to see the northern places we want to see.

Our next major stop was around the Tucson Arizona area. The weather there was generally in the 70’s in the day and upper 30‘s after the sun went down. Arizona looks much like New Mexico and western Texas, more mountains, desert and cactus. We spent a week south of Tucson in a nice RV park taking daily trips north, south and west of where we were staying. We went to Old Tombstone, Old Tucson, some Ghost towns, checking out the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM lands of the west, and seeing many of the sites in the area. We also visited with friends that live in Tucson. Again, we stayed in the southern area because of the colder weather to the north. We will tour the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forrest and other areas of the north at another time of year. We continued on West, staying as far south as possible. Our next stop was Yuma, Arizona. Yuma is in the southwest corner of the state, just a few miles from Mexico on the south and a few miles to the west is California. This area of Arizona was a surprise to me. I thought it would be mostly desert, which it is, but it is also a major agriculture producing area. There are miles and miles of orange and date groves, with miles and miles of fields growing our veggies. Dole and Sunkist are the major businesses here. At this time of year, the weather is very comfortable but the summers do get extremely hot. The growing season here is all year long. The area has a tremendous irrigation system using water from the Colorado River. You can see one area where they are picking the crops, and the area next to it where they have just planted new crops of vegetables. It appears that they do a lot of rotating crops in this area.

Seasonal major businesses of the Yuma area are the people from up North. There seems to be more RV and trailer parks per square mile here than we have noticed in the other places we have been. Many are already practically full. I have heard that generally it is after Christmas before they start to fill up. We have seen the National weather forecast along the way and it appears that the northern part of the country has had colder weather and more snow than normal for this time of the year. We are ever thankful to be where it is warm. In Arizona, they refer to the people that come down here for the winter as "the people from up north", and in Texas the call them the "Winter Texans."

One of the books we picked up at a Travel Information center gave different places where you might want to try some gold panning. It said if you were lucky to find a good deal of gold, you could file a claim on the site. One of the areas we went to near Yuma was just below the Laguna Dam. This sounded like a fun way to spend a day, and maybe be prosperous for us. We got out Howard’s gold pan and shovel and took off. When we arrived at the destination, we found that the little creek below the damn was flooded from opening the dam for the irrigation of the growing fields around Yuma. We will have to wait for another time and place and try it again.

I believe Arizona must have the best PR person in the United States writing their literature on Tourism. More than half of the places we have visited were not, in my opinion, as interesting to see as they were to read about. It was, however, worth spending time here in Arizona. We will come back to Arizona and see what is in the northern part of the state at another time of the year.

In Yuma, we saw a sign in a parking lot that had on it, "Dead Doctor’s don’t lie", with an arrow pointing to a building. We are wondering what this is about, but we will probably never know. We will just go with our imagination.

Be sure to check back later to read what we do next.