We took Mike and Claudia down to Yuma recently, showing them Imperial Dam, the Proving Grounds, and the BLM lands available for boondocking. We visited Squaw Lake Campground and Recreation Area, a picturesque oasis, complete with water fowl, palm trees, and aqua-blue waters. It was a little bit of island paradise right in the middle of the desert. Squaw Creek has a camping fee of $75 annually or $15/night, and you can only camp for a maximum of 14 days within a 28 days period. You can enjoy boating and swimming for a nominal day-use fee of $10. And according to the Yuma Field Office of BLM, this day-use fee gets waived if you have the National Park Inter-Agency Pass.
We also visited The Camel Farm. Based on its suggestive name, we thought we were going to see herds galore of camels, maybe even some descendants of Quartzsite’s “Hi Jolly” herds. (Hadji Ali, AKA “Hi Jolly” was employed by the US Government in 1856 in an experiment to transport freight and people across the Southwest via camels. The experiment was abandoned and the camels left to roam the desert). However, The Camel Farm turned out to be more of a petting zoo. And a little pricy for the size of the place ($7 for adults under 55, $5 “geezer” rate for 55 and older, $3 for kids). Still, as animal lovers, we had a great time feeding the donkeys, goats, water buffalo, and other animals. I found the “hybrid” animals, like the Zeedonk (zebra and donkey) interesting. There were a few camels, including a mama and her recent baby. It is amazing how each animal had a different personality, how they argued with one another vying for food, and how they knew the minute we exited the truck that treats would be coming their way.
Ironically, traveling home from Yuma, we saw a lone coyote wandering around and a pack of burros grazing along the roadway! All the places to hide in the desert, all the “stakeouts” and hikes we do to see wildlife, and there these fine exhibits are, right out in the open. I didn't even need my binoculars! Crazy stuff!
We also visited the Castle Dome City Mining Museum/Ghost Town. Castle Dome City served as a mining town from 1864 until 1979. Although silver mining was predominant, mining operations included copper and lead during WWII. This place wreaks of authenticity. They have mannequins, dressed in period clothing, set up in some of the restored buildings. You feel transported back in time, visualizing how life was for the miners and their families. I could see the children in the schoolhouse, learning their times tables, and the families attending Sunday service in the church.
Rambling RV Rat at Castle Dome City Mining Museum/Ghost Town
Castle Dome School House
I'd be quiet as a church mouse during Sunday Services
With five bars/saloons in Castle Dome City, a miner could be slinging back an awful lot of whiskey!
One of Five Saloons in Castle Dome City
I particularly enjoyed the diner depicting Castle Dome City’s “restaurant” life in the 1950s, with its cute lace curtains, vintage metal tables and chairs, and poster pinups.
Mining City Diner Circa 1950
One of the Many Mines at the Site
We enjoyed a picnic lunch reminiscing about times gone by and realizing how lucky we are to have all the amenities of modern life!
On our trip back to Quartzsite, we had a dreadful scare as we traveled on US 95! A car three lengths in front of us lost control. It cut across the highway, just missing oncoming traffic. It went airborne multiple times as it hit into bushes. It had enough speed and momentum to re-enter the highway, cutting across two directions of traffic to land in a side culvert ditch in front of us. Miracle upon miracles, no other vehicle was hit, the car did not flip or set fire, and the occupants of the out of control vehicle were still conscious! We called 911 and stopped to help. Seems the driver blacked out. His poor wife was frantic trying to wake him. The vehicle is a mess, but thankfully, no one seriously hurt.
It sure makes me realize how every day we are given here on earth is a gift, and how quickly it can all be taken away.