Haha! Arthur says the desert is such a Sonor-a...
27.05.2014 - 28.05.2014 43 °C
Wednesday, 28th May, 2014: Room 403, Hampton Inn, Yuma, Arizona
A mercifully short Blog today. (Hallelujah I hear you cry) and it just struck us, only a few more days to go. (Hallelujah x 2). Last night we went "native" for a Mexican meal in the Cantina next to the hotel where we had a 15%-off voucher. It was excellent.
John had "Tres Carnes", pork loin "rolls" and Bob "Carne Asada, Tacos"
We are not going to pre-judge Yuma (where we have just arrived), but Arthur has:- DUMP, he cries. In the remotest corner of Arizona, it makes its living from growing Winter greens. And, in the Winter, the population doubles. Seasonal pickers we guess. And they must all live in trailers, judging from what we saw from the Freeway. From our room in a very nice Hampton Inn, we can see green fields of vegetables which is a bit odd given we are in the middle of the huge Sonoran desert. We also saw wheat, cattle, maize and other crops being grown. We guess the water is taken from the Colorado which runs through the town, before it trickles into Mexico!
However it does have a whole list of Arthur's favourite restaurants and a "Cracker Barrel" is calling for tonight, after a trip to view the Amtrak Station where there is a thrice-weekly service to New Orleans and to Chicago or Los Angeles, in the other direction.
Today was another fascinating one. Leaving fairly early after a sustaining breakfast at the Doubletree, joined by some Brits and Dutch who, we think, were on a "Titan" coach tour. They seemed to be staying in Tucson for 2 or 3 nights, which seemed a bit odd.
We drove out on a fairly busy road which finally cleared as we reached the huge lands of the native indians the O'Odham Tahona. Many of the vehicles we saw after that were associated with the US Border Patrol which must be a major employer.
Another employer, at least of the O'Odham Tahona, was the construction company rebuilding the "Ajo Road". We got held up twice by these road works. The second time for around 20 minutes whilst some resurfacing took place.
We then joined the north-south Highway 85, which leads to the Mexican border via the Organ Pipe National Monument. And on this road, virtually all of the vehicles were Border Patrol, the rest being traffic to/from Mexico. We called into the Park headquarters for some interesting information about the Organ Pipe cactus as well as the Saguaro, which are very much in evidence here too. Apparently the Organ Pipes, which grow their "arms" from the base rather than up the main trunk, favour south-facing slopes, which was why we had not spotted many on our way South.
We took a shortish drive up a gravel scenic route, which eventually leads to the Grand Wurlitzer Cactus, but we, unfortunately did not have time to get to the end. So we then drove to the border and stopped for coffee from a cantina right on the frontier. Quite exciting really. We felt as if we were in Mexico itself! (And we have a Mexican soap on TV as I type!).
As we drove back North we were stopped at two Border Patrol checkpoints, either side of the surprisingly elegant (in the centre, at least!) town of Ajo.
The second border guard we spoke to, told us that his checkpoint was one of the busiest for catching "aliens". He had asked us if we had spotted any "aliens" and Arthur, unhelpfully replied no, but he had seen a flying saucer.
We eventually joined Interstate 8 which made for an easy 115 mile drive to Yuma, our base for tonight.
Temperature in the desert today? 109F, phew!