March 4, 2013:
The Escapees KOFA Retreat was a cheap stay for us and had much to offer, unfortunately just as we arrived, the pool and the hot tub were closed for renovation and on Tuesday AM the water to the pool room showers and the dump station were shut off. So much for a nice long hot shower and using their dump facilities !
We are on the road at 10 AM on Tuesday for the 30 mile trip across the Arizona border into California, out into the Bureau of land management (BLM) 14 day short term camping area off Ogilby road. It is a bit weird riding into the Yuma, AZ area after months in the desert, all of a sudden you come upon large green fields of lettuce and other vegetables. We stopped on the way at a convenient gas station dump station/water fill and then continued out to camping area and found a place to park the rig. It was another very windy day so we stayed in for a few hours and settled down and then took a ride a few miles down the road to the site of the Ghost town of Tumco, we decided that would be our plan for Wednesday.
Wednesday AM, it's still windy, but sunny and warm as we head down Ogilby road 4 miles to Tumco, http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro/recreation/tumco.html , which was previously called Hedges. It was a thriving Gold mine town of 3,000 people in it's prime during 1890's. As with most other gold towns it was a wild place and didn't last long. There is a self guided trail with a few story boards along the way, but we mostly made our own trail. There are open mine pits everywhere, also lots of rusting tin cans and broken glass. One needs to walk carefully, no texting allowed ! There's not much left of the town, a few foundations, a couple of stone walls, the gold leaching tanks, but enough to excite your imagination. There are very unusual hard crusted sand deposits in the washes that people have carved their names into for years. We wandered around for about three hours, it was great !
We are taking a liking to boondocking here, it's free except for the cost of dump stations, water and fuel to run the generator. We are very conservative and are confident we can make it two weeks before having to dump the holding tanks. There is something about living out in the wild that appeals, kind of like living off the land, getting back some of that primeval hunter/gatherer man feeling. It's a world different than the pioneers though, they didn't have a nice food store down the road that they could get to in a few minutes and buy virtually everything they needed. In one direction here, on the horizon we can see the sand dunes and see and hear the Southern Pacific freight trains, in the other direction is the Cargo Muchacho mountains.
Thursday was a ride back behind our RV down a dirt road that became increasingly rougher, rocky and sandy. I actually used the 4 wheel drive on parts of it. We reached a power line road where we parked the truck and then hiked another mile towards the mountains. There are more mines in this mountain area and there was a lot of debris washed down mostly rusty cans, barrels and assorted metal pieces. We wandered around quite a lot then turned and headed back towards the truck. We got to the power line road and could not see the truck in either direction. Of course we picked the wrong direction to go and after 1/4 mile or so we decided it must be the other way. We reversed and walked back, starting to second guess where we did park, it was getting hot, we were tired, we didn't have any water and were sure relieved to eventually see the truck. New rule: Never leave the vehicle, go out on an unmarked hike again without water, snack food, a phone or GPS devise to find the way back.
In the afternoon we went a few miles away to the southern end of Imperial Sand Dunes, they are huge, the largest mass of sand dunes in California at 45 miles long by 6 miles wide or 118,000 acres. It was very windy again, so we didn't venture out, but it was an incredible sight. It is a meca for the dune buggy and ATV crowd.
On Friday we crossed the border into the mexican city of Algodones, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Algodonesto , do the gringo tourist thing, look for cheap glasses and a little shopping. It was quite safer looking than our previous mexican experience at Agua Prieta, in fact there was nothing scary at all, the place was teeming with US and Canadian seniors. We stopped for lunch at a pleasant outdoor cafe place and we joked that it looked like a elderly Sam's Club or Escapees RV rally, they were even playing Jimmy Buffet music ! I did end up getting prescription bifocal sunglasses and Twinkles got new disposable contact lens. Twinkles was also happy to find fresh asparagus and strawberries. It is difficult to shop there because you can't just look around at stuff without a vendor pressuring you with some sort of deal. There are so many dentists, so cheap, it's insane, street people are all over the place hawking vision dental services. Then we had an hour wait in the customs line returning, with hundreds of mexicans trying to sell us all kinds of stuff and really poor looking desperate mothers with little kids begging for handouts. A sort off depressing end to a fun day !
Saturday was a short trip to Gold Rock Ranch across from Tumco ghost town, it is an historic ranch site that has an area museum and an RV park. They have lots of mining stuff from Tumco/Hedges and the former railroad town of Ogiby.
In the afternoon we went to Yuma Civic Center for a car show event called "Midnight at the Oasis". It was a really big show of mostly hot rods and muscle cars that attracts cars from all over southern california and runs the entire weekend. On the way out of town we just happened upon an interesting bar (this happens quite a lot) called the "Mine Shaft". It is biker theme bar with large inside and outside bar areas. They have good murals on the side of the building, except for the inclusion of the Ocean County Chopper crew, someone should spray paint them out ! They even have a pool next to the outside bar which I imagine might be very scenic.
Sundays Adventure was to the Yuma Territorial Prison which somehow survived all the insanity in this area relatively intact. They have a great museum, lots of fascinating exhibits. azstateparks.com/parks/yute/index.html
|The massive leach tanks at Tumco are rusting away|
|Twinkles by one of the few still standing walls at Tumco|
|A Dam on the mountain side over Tumco|
|View from our camp site looking at the Cargo Muchacho Mountains|
|No recycling at the gold camp !|
|Danger, open mine shaft, some are 1,000 feet deep and why do all danger signs have bullet holes ?|
|Twinkles practicing a healthy lifestyle|
|Algodones street corner|
|Algodones street vendor|
|My kind of piñata !|
|Old International Truck at the Gold Rock Ranch|
|Street Rod at the "Midnight on the Oasis" car show|
|Nice flames on 55 Chevy|
|The "Hell Hole" at the Yuma Territorial Prison|
|You don't mess with Elera !|
|View from the cell|
|Into the infamous "Black Hole"|
|Yuma Territorial Prison|