Moving on – to Menifee, CA

1/26/16 (Tuesday) in Menifee, CA (Wilderness Lakes-TT)

Because we needed to travel about 225 miles today, we wanted to get going earlier than usual. We woke to wind. Dang. Thankfully our slides came in fine, as well as the jacks lifting up. Whew!

Goodby Pilot Knob and the Imperial Dunes Recreation Area. We never went there because people told us it’s mostly a place for people to race their dune buggies around the dunes. I figured the picture taking wouldn’t be the best. In the image below you can see the All American Canal carrying Colorado River water to farms.


On our way by 7:30. The wind was calm once we’d traveled several miles. I-8 E was pretty decent, although we had a good climb in the mountains from sea level to over 4000 ft. The wind picked up quite a bit once we got high. I’m thinking the non-freeway route we took to get to Pilot Knob would have been better than this one with the elevation changes and high winds. As we left the mountains (Cleveland National Forest), the wind eased. In San Diego we too I-15 N, then I-215. Good freeway, with plenty of lanes, so good space for vehicles. Naturally, since this is heavy civilization, there were no rest areas or good off ramps to pull into and stop.

We made it, though, in one piece, by noon and got set up an hour later. Feels so good to be settled in. We even got a welcome from the Chinese Geese walking past our site.


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Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park

1/22/16 (Friday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

Today we visited the Yuma Quartermaster Depot (and visitor’s information center) [$4 entry fee], where the Army received supplies via steamboat (later via the railroad, when dams made steamboat travel impossible) on the Colorado River and delivered them off to the various outposts throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah ……

Most of the buildings are the original adobe construction, with the Commanding Officer’s Quarters home is believed to be Arizona’s oldest Anglo built adobe building. It survived the Colorado River flood of 1862 because it was on high ground.

depot 2

We saw different restoration items in the Quartermaster’s House:


The last was a breezeway for those hot summer days, with an old sewing machine on the left.

We learned a lot about the east and west wetland restoration they’ve accomplished here, as well as the effects of all the dams on the Colorado River (the one that carved out the Grand Canyon). In the olden days there was a spot where it was 10 miles wide. The dams have provided stability (no annual flooding) and irrigation for much land. Because of the lack of flooding, though, the wetlands that were important to the wildlife here had dried up, so restoration has brought them back. On the other hand, because of the irrigation, this area (Imperial Valley) provides 90% of the US leafy greens. I believe it, from all that we’ve seen growing here. I’m surprised that sand can yield all these crops. Was it because of the flooding in the past? One interesting feature is the reverse siphon (large pipe structure) they built to move water underground, to the other side of the Colorado River, lifting the water high enough to get into the irrigation canals.

Laguna Dam-built 1909, the first dam on the Colorado, ending steamboat traffic

Hoover Dam-built 1936, created Lake Mead

Parker Dam-built 1939, deepest dam in the world, created Lake Havasu, provides water to LA, San Diego, Phoenix and Tucson

Imperial Dam-built in 1939 too, diverts 90% of the river’s remaining water flow, (Mexico has a dam on the Colorado too) and provides the majority of irrigation water for farming.

Back to our Depot: they have a Pie Shoppe too, as well as some cool transportation highlights. They built a plank road over the sand dunes for the cars of the day:

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Railroad handcar (with motor here) and an all wood passenger coach.


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Arizona Marketplace Revisit

1/21/16 (Thursday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

We returned to get some items we’d decided we’d like to buy: LED light bulbs, Louis L’Amor paperback books and more produce. I got some pictures this time.


The real reason we drove to Yuma was because I needed some yogurt for the corn muffins I wanted to make, so we then stopped at the grocery store.

A little history: we made an enchilada casserole, bought the ingredients for lasagna, then John spotted a great deal on some pork (for his favorite cranberry pork recipe), so we bought a huge pork butt and asked the butcher to take out the bone. We had to cook it (no room in the freezer). All this in just a few days. Today we had our guests (Viren and Elaine) for a chili dinner. We’d promised chili and cornbread muffins. Thus another big meal prepared. We are thankful that all of these meal leftovers are fitting in the fridge and will provide many meals we don’t have to plan for!

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Algodones, Mexico and Glasses

1/20/16 (Wednesday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

This time I was determined to take pictures, so as soon as we crossed into Mexico, I took a photo of a big sign there. John yelled at me that photography was not allowed, as I continued up the walk. Sheesh, I didn’t see the sign. The first thing you notice is the “Purple Store”, a pharmacy and liquor store.


Walk to the end of that street and at the first intersection, to your right, you’ll see our “Oasis Dental Group.”

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Now realize that as soon as you see the Purple Store you’ll be greeted by many “sales persons” asking if you want dental or optical services or need medicines or liquor because that’s how they try to get you to purchase theirs. You can say “no thank you” or simply look ahead and ignore them and they will let you continue on. However today my mission (besides some photos) was to research prices for replacing my glasses. After listening to many different explanations, at the a few of the different optical shops, I came away with quite a range of quotes and the realization that I should have had a clearer idea of what my glasses entailed. Following; my research on the Internet AFTER we checked things out in Mexico.


Lenses (glass, CR-39, polycarbonate, high-index, Trivex)

Bi-focal or Progressive (Varilux Comfort most prescribed, Essilor Ovation)?

Coatings (scratch-resistant, Anti-glare/Anti-Reflective/Crizal,Ultraviolet protection (only needed with CR-39), polished edges). Transition (turn dark in sun) are not as helpful as wraparound sunglasses for visible sunlight because 50% of sunlight reaches your eyes from around your frames. Also in a car the roof and sides of the car lessen the amount of sunshine needed to trigger maximum darkness change.

At most places the exam was free. If your glasses were basic (like John’s) then it would take a day to have the lenses ready. If they were pretty complicated (like mine) they could take from 2-4 weeks to be ready. Very good to know.

Research accomplished, we got in the line for the USA. There we found out that many people come to Mexico for the liquor, but it’s not sold until 11 am. Thus the line to get back into the US can get really long if you get here after 11 am. It was 11:15 and already we had to stand for about a half hour, where as on our last visit (left about 10:30am) there was no line at all. Our neighbors said they’d been in the line for 3-4 hours before.

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Center of the World, in Felicity, CA via Jacques-Andre Istel

1/19/16  (Tuesday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

How can this be? The center of the world just a mile from our little campground, in the California Sonoran desert? It started when Jacques-Andre Istel, while serving as a Marine in the Korean War, saw this barren land. He fell in love with it, telling his wife that he would do something special with it. Once the idea came, he first wrote a children’s book “Coe the Good Dragon at the Center of the World”. With that book he convinced Imperial County, CA and the Institute Geographique National of France to pronounce this the Center of the World. Then he incorporated the city “Felicity”, naming it after his Chinese wife. He marked the spot with a pink granite pyramid.


Next he built a church for his town, bringing in tons of sand to create a hill for it, because churches are traditionally built on the high point of towns in Europe. You can see it beyond the pyramid, just to the right in my photo above.

He likes to think of this as a “center for memories” and so has begun his History in Granite project, where he is having inscribed everything he thinks is worth telling future generations. Naturally he included his High School and College features, as well as the French Foreign Legion, a history of French aviation, and those who died in the Korean War. I really enjoyed his explanation of the history between the Sunnis and Shiites (Muslims).  Click on that image to be able to read it.


It’s only open in the winter months (December-March), with a restaurant open 4 hours a day. $3 to see the grounds, $2 more dollars to step inside the pyramid and get a certificate that notes the moment you stood at the center of the world. We declined the pyramid experience and loved the History in Granite. You can return (for free) to see it again.

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Yuma Territorial Prison and Arizona Marketplace

1/14/16 (Thursday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

Since we needed to go to Yuma for groceries we figured it would be good to include some new experiences with our trip, so on our way we first stopped at the Yuma Territorial Prison. Opened on July 1, 1876, when 7 inmates were locked into the new cells they’d built themselves. It was closed in 1909 because of overcrowding and the prisoners were moved to Florence, AZ.

What amazed me is how forward thinking the people who ran this prison were. For one thing the prison had more amenities than most people in Yuma had: electricity, forced ventilation, sanitation (2 bathtubs, 3 showers) and a library with 2,000 books. They even had a band. On the rough side, they suffered terrible heat and humidity and vermin. They bathed once a week. They worked 48 hours a week in the fields, quarry, adobe field or shop, although the time spent working was subtracted from an inmate’s sentence according to the amount of work he/she performed (yes, 29 women served here too). Plus they got to create crafts to sell/trade at a public craft show (a share of the profits were given the inmate when they were released). The shops they worked at included tailor, shoe, and bakery. The prison was completely self sufficient. Everything they needed, they made there, like a tin cup, a new mattress. These were also trades they could apply in the outside world. I was especially impressed with the mirror used to take their “mug” shots, that showed both a front face and profile image in the same shot.


On to the Arizona Marketplace, basically a large flea market in canopied booths. We came just looking for lunch but to our surprise left with several items. One booth had wonderful produce for great prices too! We learned at the produce booth that the inspection checkpoint we must stop at going back to our California campground is looking for citrus produce, apparently not allowed into California. Lunch was pretty expensive for what you got, we won’t do that again.

Then we headed for the Post Office which just happened to be very close to the Fry’s grocery store. Our purchases accomplished, we came back home to relax. Well, I managed a lot of laundry and a nap in that time as John watched TV.

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Teeth Cleaned and Cavities Filled in Algodones, Mexico

1/13/16 (Wednesday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

We’ve arrived at Pilot Knob, an ROD campground just west of Winterhaven, CA, which is just west of Yuma, AZ. I must say this is the most run down campground of the ROD’s we’ve been to, but it’s still nice; FHU (30/50 amps), though you must pay $5/day for utilities, either amperage. Since it’s in the desert the sites are level, graveled, with a concrete pad and picnic table, fairly spacious. Few trees, mostly shorter, so no issues with TV satellite reception. They have some activities (bingo, pokeno, meals, ice cream social), as well as a swimming pool and hot tub. It’s best feature: it’s just 5 miles from the parking lot next to Algodones, Mexico. There we got our teeth cleaned and cavities filled at Oasis Dental Group (from a recommendation). Both of us were impressed with the service; efficient and competent. The cost for a total of 7 cavities filled with resin composite, along with X rays and teeth cleaning was $700 (+3% for credit card use). We’d heard from lots of RVers that they were quite happy with their dental work at certain Mexican border towns. On the recommendation of one of our RV friends, we went to Oasis Dental Group (you can Google them). To be honest, the images on the website were not what we saw, exactly. Yes, the front of the building they’re in was the same but it just was not as impressive next to its neighbors. Next time I’ll take photos. We were just more focused on finding the place and getting to our appointment today. Inside they are busy remodeling, so you know how things can look while that’s happening. The Pharmacy (Tury) is what you first see as you walk in, then the dental area is further back. Lots of Americans getting work done as we waited our turn. They used a couple things our dentist doesn’t even use: digital X rays. The best part of their X ray machine is that it’s small and portable, held by the assistant. The dentist then held the receptor (sort of like a mini I pod) up against my teeth. NO BITE WINGS, no biting down. I have a small mouth, so that was just wonderful. Once he’d taken all the images, he brought them up on a computer screen, to talk to me about them. Cool. Best of all, he explained more by putting a small wand with light and camera at the end in my mouth which sent an immediate display on the computer screen. Super cool. I got to see my cavities, then when everything was done (I had 5 cavities), I got to see my teeth with the work completed. Very pain free delivery of Novocain (I had choices for other local anesthetics), no pain while he did the cavity removal work. He even noted that if I drank lots of water the Novocain numbing effect would leave sooner. Amazing the things you learn after all these years.

John had his teeth cleaned, 2 cavities filled without Novocain by the time I was finished with just my teeth cleaning. I did have lots of questions….

Everyone spoke English, although the receptionist was the most fluent. She’d been in the US from 5 years old until she was 18.  I even got to keep the X ray images (on paper).

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