Friday, February 02, 2007
Snow bird country
We are adjusting to life in the mega campground in, what the local business bureau says is the third faster growing city in the USA. If you count the snow birds, that may well be true. Like much of the southwest we have seen, it is growing at a wild rate. This apparently is being driven by the principle that all northern baby boomers are determined to live in the warm dry sun. If that premise proves to be wrong, there are going to be a lot of unhappy speculators. There may be a master plan to the construction here, but in driving around the area, it is not apparent.
We visited the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park at the edge of the old town and got a good insight into its history and operation. It is certainly understandable that it developed a reputation as a place to avoid. It was started to overcome the problems of the many of the small jails being inadequate to hold the many tough criminals of the day.
While much of the prison was lost to general decay, vandalism, and use of the building materials to rebuilt Yuma after a flood, enough has been restored to give you a feel of what it must have been like to be confined there. That was not a vacation by any means. You worked six days a week in the fields, in the quarry or in other backbreaking jobs. You spent your off hours in a small cell shared with five other inmates and you were not allowed to talk with anyone beyond your set of bars. If you broke any of the many rules, you were either shackled to a ring bolt in your cell, which also meant that your cell mates were shackled with you, even though they may not have broken any of the rules. This process encouraged future compliance, as the cell mates apparently spent this time expressing their displeasure. The second form of punishment that was officially recorded was the dark cell, which was a cell cut out granite hill side and you were placed in a small cage and kept there from 4 to 22 days at a time. No toilet facilities and the guards only cleaned it out once every three months. So last one in really had it tough.
Finally, if you somehow breakout, the guards hired local Indian trackers to bring you back dead or alive for a huge fee of $50.
On the way back, we stopped at a large swap meet (flea market) and found where many of the snow birds spend their time. The lesson here is to check all the booths first before making a purchase. We needed several 12 volt lights for the coach and paid $3.25 each at the first place we saw. Then two buildings down, we bought 10 of them for $3.00 total. Needless to say, one of us went back and gave the first vendor a big piece of her mind.
We are heading back there tomorrow to have a more complete look around and then enjoy the activities of the park and the sunshine.