Day 12 - February 9, 1998 - Milepost 1366 - Yuma, AZ

(BF). Our three maps of Yuma only seem to add to the confusion of circumnavigating the city. If we turn right off of 4th we are on 5th and will soon cross 3rd. When we are at the intersection of 16th and US 8, the landmarks do not match what the map tells us. The anomalies go on and on until we start to understand the system. It seems whoever laid out Yuma's roads was short on names, so he gave everything a number. There is 3rd Street, 3rd Avenue, 3rd Drive, 3rd Place, County 3rd Street, Avenue 3E and Avenue 3W. If you drive along Yuma's (the city) 16th Street it eventually becomes Yuma's (the county) 8th Street. None of our city maps showed the whole picture so we finally pieced together the pattern yesterday by driving around for an hour trying to find the flea market at the Dog Track just as they were closing down. (You'd think Shari would have had enough of flea markets by now, but she thought this one might be different).

With my new navigation knowledge, I leave an hour before sunrise to visit some birding sites south of Yuma. I don't really know why, but I've been curious what the far southwestern corner of Arizona looks like. This is so far south that it borders Mexico on the south and, surprisingly, the east. In darkness I pass through Yuma, Somerton and Gadsden. Then I notice a steady stream of headlights, a progression of cars and loaded school busses. It's 6:45 AM - those kids sure have to get up early for school! I continue south until I enter San Luis and at the Mexican border I see the traffic pouring over a small bridge like ants from an ant hill. Those aren't children in school buses; they're Mexicans coming across the border to work in the Migran1.JPG (83770 bytes)vegetable farms that canvas the Lower Colorado Valley of Arizona. I do an about face and leave the main highway to take a dirt road that follows the Colorado River on one side and leafy green vegetable fields on the other. Here the river is surrounded by a few wimpy trees and thick snarled undergrowth, making it impossible to approach the main flow. I can see a few low shacks on the Mexico side, but no one lives on the Arizona side for the 20-mile stretch between San Luis and Yuma. In fact, the only human I encounter this morning is a Border Patrol officer who checks me out and then gives me some birding suggestions. As I head north to "Hunter's Hole", a 15 ft wide irrigation canal parallels the river and water is diverted in each field to provide sustenance to the thousands of acres of vegetables. Little remains of what this valley looked like before the advent of agriculture, but in a few remnants on the Cocopah Indian Reservation give me hints. Areas flattened from countless years of flooding support low woody bushes thickly spaced. Sometimes sand dunes are formed where the larger plants are snuffed out and the rolling waves of sand support a blanket of purple flowers, Yumafl1.JPG (135142 bytes)strikingly beautiful in the morning sunlight. Farther north, access to the river becomes easier and I can see it swollen with El Nino rains, swiftly flowing blue-green water so unlike the muddy flow of the Rio Grande. Bird life is sparse, but rewarding, and I find 47 species by 11:30, including Ospreys hunting for fish over the river, a dozen Cinnamon Teal floating on the water and Pintails and Redheads flocking overhead, Long-billed Curlews and White-faced Ibis feeding in the fields and Ground Doves and Towhees preferring the dryer land. I return to Yuma Lakes RV resort in time for our appointment disappointment, a tale I'll leave to Shari.

 (SF). Bert watches birds and I watch washing machines as I do the dirty clothes. At 1 PM we drive over to the sales office for our sales pitch on Yuma Lakes and information about Coast to Coast. We were told yesterday to come a little early and get our e-mail before our appointment. Woody, who I think is the sales manager, gives his ok to the secretary manning the front desk. We plug in and within five minutes we have sent and retrieved our messages. We then follow Woody, who is the one to give us the "tour"  to another building and are told to have a seat at a round table facing the lake. We then start our 40 minute lesson on Yuma Lakes and its three sister resorts. The first thing mentioned was two types of memberships. One is for only one park and the other is for all four parks for the price of $4695. I kind of gulp at the price but do not mention anything about it. Woody is all smiles and niceties as he meets our questions with straightforward answers. We find out that we must purchase before 4 PM today or the deal is off. The deal being membership in all four parks, Coast to Coast availability, capped annual fees of $288 to $298 and three-generation transfer for the same low price of $4695. After he is done explaining, he asks us what we think. I tell him that I am not impressed with this park. He does not even ask what I do not like about the park. [the lots are too close together and the employees are not helpful (experience in the store) and some downright belligerent (experience with yesterday's e-mail) and that since I have only had one other coast to coast experience, I needed more time]. He abruptly announces "Thank you, goodbye" and, without rising, motions us to the door. As I am getting into the car I overhear Woody say, "Benny, Don't do any more e-mail for anybody!" The attitude, the emotion, the atmosphere of our whole experience was summed up by Woody in those seven words. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I left disheartened and empty. I was unaware that e-mail cost $4695.

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