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Hello, I Hate You

March 24, 2019
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Hello Yuma, you beautiful thing.

Pretty much every time I arrive at a new destination, I go through the same cycle: I look around, think “Ugh, why am I here? I should just go.”

Then I stay for a week and end up wanting to stay just a little longer.

I have had this happen in diverse places including San Francisco (the traffic, the noise, the sad homeless people). Most lately, it happened in Yuma, Arizona.

All of my RV groups raved about Yuma. I was kind of excited to go to a place that I had only ever heard of in the title of the old movie “3:10 to Yuma.” Then I got there and realized that the people who were raving about Yuma were uniformly from places covered in 4 feet of snow this time of year.

And to be honest, Yuma is no garden paradise, especially upon first approach. It’s a sprawling, dusty town full of long, straight streets with fast-food restaurants and strip malls looking somewhat the worse for wear.

It is, however, home to approximately one million RV parks. Well, probably 40 or more, anyway. It is the place voted Least Likely to Snow.

I spent my first night in Yuma at the Paradise Casino on the Quechan native American lands. An evening walk led me to stumble into the fascinating history of Yuma. The area was first visited by Europeans in 1540, 80 years before the Plymouth landing.

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This is not the mission. It is just down the hill.

The St. Thomas Indian Mission overlooks the casino and was the site of a 1781 Quechan rebellion. The Quechans, sick of their treatment by the Spaniards, attacked, burned the mission, and took over 100 Spaniards prisoner. After that, the Spaniards didn’t try to control Yuma anymore.

The mission was rebuilt in 1922 and now sits just a few feet across the Colorado River from California. I walked across the river bridge just for the non-experience of having one foot in each of two states. “Hm…feels like…nothing.”

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The mighty Colorado separates Arizona and California.

I spent the rest of the week tucked into a cozy RV park full of friendly snowbirds. All I ask for is clean showers and a nice swimming pool, and that I got from the Blue Sky RV park. I’m working all day, so it’s not like I’m going to be playing golf, anyway.

Yuma is also notable for dentistry. Not in Yuma – across the Mexican border in Algodones, 7 miles away, 350 dentists ply their trade, fixing teeth for people who could in no way afford dental work in the US, or for bargain hunters eager to save a few thousand dollars.

One more note about Yuma: that winter lettuce you’re eating? It comes from Yuma.

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I got your lettuce. ALL OF IT.

I left on Friday evening, not hating Yuma anymore, but feeling a little wistful that I didn’t get to spend more time in this scrappy, dusty little desert town.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2019 16:13

    I like that you’re finding the “good” in the places that you visit. I was always curious about Yuma as well, not just from the movie but because some of my friends would talk about it. Interesting about the dentists but I suppose it makes sense.

    • March 24, 2019 21:38

      I don’t know if I would ever cross the border to get my teeth worked on, but lots of people do and have success…

  2. Christine Voth permalink
    March 24, 2019 20:29

    Love your description of the Yuma Experience!

  3. March 25, 2019 06:40

    A lot of those dusty towns have hidden treasures, don’t they? I often miss the one we left years ago.

    • March 31, 2019 11:00

      Yes, you just have to poke around. Everywhere is interesting…I just have to be interested!

  4. March 26, 2019 06:26

    Love this idea of falling in love with a place that you initially didn’t think was so special..well written!!

    • March 31, 2019 11:01

      Thank you. I told someone I spent a week in Yuma and she said “WHY?” So I had to convince her a little 🙂

  5. March 27, 2019 11:53

    Next time: The Garden Cafe downtown, or the Village Inn on 16th for pizza or Cretin’s on 16th for Mexican food. The territorial prison is kind of cool. I spent a lot of my youth in Yuma as a military brat

    • March 31, 2019 11:02

      Ok, I will read back if I ever return. I probably will because I like that southern route. The desert is really so scenic.

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