Saturday, February 28, 2015

Yuma Air Show - 02/28/15 - Yuma, AZ

Saturday – February 28, 2015
Yuma Air Show
Yuma, Arizona

Lots to see and do at the Yuma Air Show today. The Yuma Airshow attracts spectators from all over the country. The event encompasses civilian air acts, modern aircraft displays, live air performances, and more held at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona.

Misty Blues All Women Sky Diving Team

Imagine peering out the door of an airplane at 4,000 feet up. Now imagine stepping outside that plane, right into the wide open, blue sky. This is what the members of the Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team do all the time, and they enjoy it.

Since the early 1980’s The Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team has been thrilling audiences at air shows, corporate events and other special occasions around the world. These exceptionally talented and brave ladies delight in displaying their parachuting talents that make them some of the most skilled skydivers in the world. There are approximately 35,000 active skydivers in the North American continent, and only a mere 15% are women!

One of the team members jumps with a 60-foot American flag that weighs in at amazing 45 pounds! Even if she is a petite thing, the flag jumper will always weigh well over 160 pounds when she steps out of the plane.

Not only are these women great skydivers, but they are also highly successful professionals with full-time careers ranging from an accounting consultant to a welding instructor. Although there are eight women on the team, four of them go to every show.


This is baddest/most impressive jet ground vehicle on the planet!!! 3 times the smoke, 3 times the fire, 3 times the noise, and 3 times the horsepower! THREE afterburning J34-48 jet engines totaling 36,000 HP. SHOCKWAVE is the Guiness Book world record holder for the fastest jet truck in the world at 376 mph.

Red Bull Helicopter

"Malibu" Chuck Aaron is the first - and only - civilian pilot ever to be licensed to perform helicopter aerobatics in the United States. In fact, he’s one of only three pilots permitted to execute the dangerous maneuvers internationally.

In 2004, he joined forces with Red Bull to take on a daunting challenge: figuring out how to perform aerobatics in a helicopter. After devoting nearly two years with the Flying Bulls team to modify and test a Messerschmitt-Bölkow Blohm BO-105, devise maneuvers, and determine how to make the aircraft perform them, in 2006 Chuck guided the Red Bull Helicopter through its U.S. debut.

Today, Chuck has logged more than 20,000 hours in the air and performed aerobatics with the Red Bull Helicopter at more than 150 air shows and events from coast to coast.

The Showcat Biplane

This aircraft is the first Grumman biplane to be used in airshows since the 1930’s when the late Al Williams flew the famed "Gulfhawk". Gene Soucy's new airplane is also the first agricultural aircraft to be used in the airshow environment. Gene has created three new acts with the airplane; a Hollywood style smoke and noise solo routine, a wingwalking act, and a night pyrotechnic show: "Fireflight".

The Ag Cat was first designed in 1958 and over 1800 Cats are in use throughout the world. The aircraft carries on the Grumman tradition of a strong over-built airframe and has the best pilot safety record in the agricultural business.

Soucy’s "Showcat" was modified by Jim Swick at his son’s "Swick Aircraft" facility in McKinney Texas. The six-month project entailed a complete renovation of the former crop sprayer. The hopper was removed and a two seat front cockpit was added for media rides. The entire top of the fuselage was redesigned with a sleeker look including a new rear cockpit, engine cowling, dorsal fin and turtle deck. The wings were clipped to improve roll rate, new gear fairings, wheel pants, and smaller tires were installed. The aircraft was fitted with a Bendix fuel injector and new inverted fuel and oil systems were constructed. The total aerodynamic cleanup improved cross-country cruising speed from 90 MPH to 110 MPH. Swick also installed an airshow smoke system and wing rider stand, plus a wing-tip smoke and pyrotechnic system. The aircraft’s electrical system was removed and completely rewired.

Another interesting feature of the Ag Cat was the removable side panels on the fuselage. No other airshow aircraft provides the ease of accessibility for maintenance, which is so important in this type of flying.

The combination of the Showcat's light wing-loading and high lift airfoil section provide the perfect slow speed performance for the wingwalking airshow Gene is performing. In the airshow configuration, the Showcat is still operating 1,500 pounds below the maximum weight it was flown at in the cropduster configuration with a full load of chemical.

The modified Ag Cat makes the perfect airshow airplane. It has all metal construction, ease of maintenance, excellent controllability and good cross-country range. It also has the round engine, the "Pratt & Whitney 985", which provides the earth-shaking noise that has been an airshow tradition since the 1930’s.

MCAS Search and Rescue Unit
The primary mission of the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma Search and Rescue Unit (SRU) is to provide support for military flight operations within a 100 nautical mile radius of MCAS Yuma. MCAS Yuma will also respond to community SAR and Medevacs on a not-to-interfere with military operations basis. There is a fully qualified crew on 24-hour duty status, 7 days a week including holidays.

F-5N Tiger II

This jet aircraft is a single seat, twin-engine, tactical fighter and attack aircraft that provides simulated air-to-air combat training. The F-5F is a dual-seat version, twin-engine tactical fighter commonly used for training and adversary combat tactics. The F-5 aircraft serve in an aggressor-training role with simulation capabilities of current threat aircraft in fighter-combat mode.

AV-8B Harrier Jet

This aircraft was made famous by its performance in the 1982 Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Establishing air superiority in today’s complex global security climate requires the unprecedented capabilities and versatility that only the F-35 Lightning II can offer.

Conceived in the mid 1990s, the tri-variant F-35 represents the pinnacle of more than 50 years of fighter development technology. Designed to dominate the skies, the F-35 combines the 5th Generation characteristics of radar evading stealth, supersonic speed and extreme agility with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history.

Advanced avionics give the pilot real-time access to battle space information with spherical coverage and an unparalleled ability to dominate the tactical environment. Data collected by F-35 sensors can be immediately shared with commanders at sea, in the air or on the ground, providing an instantaneous, high-fidelity view of ongoing operations – making the Lightning II a formidable force multiplier.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II – the world’s only international 5th Generation multi-role fighter.

MV-22 Osprey

With the speed and range of a turboprop, the maneuverability of a helicopter and the ability to carry 24 Marine combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters, the Osprey greatly enhances the advantages Marines have over their enemies.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, military, tiltrotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

Since entering service with the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force, the Osprey has been deployed in both combat and rescue operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Libya.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Castle Dome Mines - 02/26/15 - Yuma, AZ

Thursday – February 26, 2015
Castle Dome Mines Museum
Yuma, Arizona

A warm, sunny day beckoned to us as we paid a visit to Castle Dome Mines Museum today. The museum is located 30 miles north of Yuma in the ghost town of Castle Dome. Once a thriving industrial town bustling with more than 3,000 inhabitants, Castle Dome is now a deserted town-turned-museum filled with rich Arizona history.

Castle Dome Mines Museum is located in the Castle Dome Mountains of Yuma County, Arizona. It was first settled as a silver mining camp in 1864 in what was then the Arizona Territory. Silver was mined here until 1979.

The property that was previously Castle Dome town and mining camp was purchased in 1994 by Allen and Stephanie Armstrong, and turned into the Castle Dome Mines Museum. The museum site houses 35 restored and recreated buildings — seven original to the town, and the rest are period representations built mostly from locally scavenged materials. Each building, among them a saloon, a hotel, a mill, and a blacksmith, is staged to look like it might have looked in the town's heyday, some 100 years ago. There is so much to see here, so plan on spending at least half of a day exploring this wonderful site… a full day would be even better.

October: Tuesday-Sunday, 10-5
November – April: Daily, 9-5
May – September: Call for times they will be open.

Entrance Fee
Adults: $10.00
Children: $5.00
Children 6 & Under: Free

Exit at Mile Post 55 on U.S. Highway 95. The entrance is 10 miles on this road.The first 3 three miles are paved, the last 7 are gravel. Four-wheel drive is not required during dry weather.

GPS Coordinates:

When the first Americans reached the Castle Dome Mountains in the early 1860s, there were already signs of previous mining activity. It was generally believed that Native Americans had engaged in mining in the Castle Dome Mountains some years before and backpacked the ore 18 miles south to a processing site on the banks of the Gila River, where remnants of adobe furnaces were found.

As mineral deposits began to be discovered up and down the Colorado River in the early 1860s, numerous mining camps and steamboat ports grew into towns along the river. Heading north from Yuma, prospectors staked gold and silver claims along the river and in the surrounding mountains.

Though prospecting and planning commenced years earlier, modern mining in the area didn't begin in earnest until 1869 due to hostilities with Native Americans.

The population of the town is said to have peaked at over 3,000 people, and rivaled Yuma in size as of 1880. At its peak, it housed a post office, a hotel, a saloon, a general store, and smelting facilities.

As with many mining boomtowns, mining activity diminished through the 1880s. Renewed mining activity began in 1890 as the area became a significant source of lead for both World War I and World War II.

After World War II, the demand for lead decreased, and the town again went into decline, though mining activity continued for some years in the area. The school was shut down in 1950, and the mines went into and out of use as the price of silver, still found in the area, rose and fell. By 1979, the mines were all shut down, and the last of the residents were gone.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Camping on Public Lands - 02/18/15 - Yuma, AZ

Wednesday – February 18, 2015
Camping on Public Lands
Yuma, Arizona

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provides Long-Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) in the Arizona and California deserts and along the lower Colorado River. Thousands of snowbirds flock to these public lands to camp during the winter months, enjoying the mild winter climate. Visitors may camp in the LTVA’s for as long as seven months.

Winter visitors who wish to stay in an LTVA must purchase a long-term permit ($180.00), or a short-visit permit ($40.00). The long-term permit is valid for the entire season (September 15 to April 15), or any part of the season. The short-visit permit is valid for 14 consecutive days with the option to purchase an unlimited quantity of short-visit permits. Both permits are valid in any of the designated LTVA’s. Permit holders may move from one LTVA to another without incurring additional fees.

LTVA’s in Southwestern Arizona and Southeastern California




Dump Station



Hot Spring






Imperial Dam






La Posa












Mule Mtn






Pilot Knob












Hot Spring & Tamarisk
Dump station and water are available for a fee at RV Storage in Holtville, California (5 miles west of Hot Spring LTVA). Free water is available at the Rest Area on I-8, east of Hot Spring LTVA.

Water is available nearby for a fee.

Pilot Knob
Dump station and water are available at Imperial Dam (about 20 miles northeast of I-8 on S-24).

La Posa, Midland and Mule Mountain are located near Quartzsite, Arizona (70 miles north of Yuma, Arizona). Quartzsite is a very popular destination for thousands of snowbirds. Quartzsite is a very small town with limited dining and shopping opportunities.

We prefer to spend the winter at the Imperial Dam LTVA. If this is your first time boondocking in the desert, we recommend you camp here first. It is close to an urban area that allows you numerous choices for dining out, shopping and to enjoy the local festivities scheduled throughout the winter months.

Imperial Dam LTVA Features
4 Dump Stations
6 Double-Faucet Water Stations
2 Restroom Facilities with Flush Toilets
2 Vault Toilets at the Senator Wash Camping Area
1 Vault Toilet at the Gravel Pit Camping Area
4 Restrooms and 16 Pay Shower Facilities at Squaw Lake (2 miles west)
Boat launch at Senator Wash Reservoir
Boat launch at Squaw Lake
Mail, FedEx & UPS Delivery Service Available at Christian Service Center (3 miles)
Propane, Solar Panels Available at Christian Service Center
Close to U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (5 miles)
Close to Yuma, Arizona (20 miles)
Emergency Medical Service Nearby

The Imperial Dam LTVA covers an expansive area in the desert and is accessed via Senator Wash Road which intersects with Imperial County Road S-24. South Mesa is the main entrance where the Contact Station, Dump Stations, Water Stations and Restroom Facilities are located. The South Mesa branches off into the following sectors:

  • North Mesa
  • South Shore
  • East Florida Flats
  • North Florida Flats
  • South Florida Flats
  • Gravel Pit
  • Blueberry Hill
  • Hermans Horsepath
  • Northwest Territories (Mesa’s 1, 2 & 3)
  • Murphy Flats
  • Boot Hill
  • Fish Tale Flats

Along Senator Wash Road there are these nearby camping locations:

  • Kripple Creek
  • Skunk Hollow
  • Hurricane Ridge
  • Squaw Lake Campground

Senator Wash Road intersects with Ferguson Road. Ferguson Road leads to the Christian Service Center and the following camping locations:

  • Quail Hill
  • Quail Valley
  • Lonely Hill
  • Dogpatch
  • Lonesome Ridge
  • Lower Beehive Mesa
  • Upper Beehive Mesa
  • Coyote Ridge
  • Rocky Knoll
  • Ocotillo Flats
  • Snowbird Mesa

Cell phone and Internet service can be problematic in the southwest regions of the U.S. Fortunately, there is a library and bowling center at the Yuma Proving Ground that offers free WiFi. In addition, the Yuma Main Library at 32nd Street and 21st Avenue also offers free Wifi.

We arrived at the Imperial Dam LTVA on November 18, 2014 and have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. We will be departing this LTVA in March to explore other areas of California and Arizona.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Telegraph Pass - 02/17/15 - Yuma, AZ

Tuesday – February 17, 2015
Telegraph Pass
Yuma, Arizona

We awoke to a bright sunny day, slightly windy, with the temperature in the low 70s. We decided this would be the perfect day to hike the trail up to Telegraph Pass. Telegraph Pass is a long, challenging, uphill hike (1,200 feet) to the top of a mountain where numerous communication antennas are located.

Telegraph Pass is located in the foothills of the Gila Mountains, a few miles east of Yuma. Exit I-8 at Fortuna Boulevard and follow the North Frontage Road east until the road ends at a large gravel parking area.

Telegraph Pass is a scenic hike through a desert landscape.There are several narrow, rock-strewn, foot trails that lead to the main access road to the top of the mountain. Nothing is marked but ultimately they are pretty easy to follow. There is also an Off-Highway-Vehicle road that runs parallel to I-8 and leads to the main access road, which can also be a hiking option. On this portion of the hike you will get your heart rate up that will condition you for the strenuous hike up the steep mountain trail that lies ahead.

When you reach the trailhead to the top of the mountain, there is a BLM Information Board here along with a Port-A-Potty. The trail to the top of the mountain is a steep, crudely paved, concrete, one-lane road. This road is used by maintenance vehicles (driving a vehicle on this road is not for the faint-of-heart!). There is a locked gate at the entrance to this road. Hikers just walk around the gate.

Telegraph Pass is a popular hiking trail and you will find people of all ages, hiking up the trail, on a daily basis. Make sure that you are prepared for a long, strenuous hike. Put on plenty of sunscreen, take water and snacks because you’re going to sweat and get an extensive cardio workout. We each had our own hiking backpacks, with two bottles of water each, protein bars, apples, nuts, cheese and pepperoni slices. Attached to our backpacks we had our ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stools. These lightweight hiking stools (2 lbs.) are great for taking a break on long hikes.

The hike, round-trip from the trail that we took, was 6.9 miles. We took a lunch break about halfway up the concrete road to the top.

The view at the top is simply breathtaking and gives you a beautiful panoramic view of the Arizona desert. You can see the sand dunes, the city of Yuma, Castle Dome, surrounding mountains and spectacular green farmlands.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Yuma Territorial Prison - 02/12/15 - Yuma, AZ

Thursday – February 12, 2015
Yuma Territorial Prison
Yuma, Arizona

We explored the Yuma Territorial Prison today. Arizona’s famous Territorial Prison sits on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, three miles west of the confluence of the Colorado and the historic Gila River.

Of the 3,069 convicts sentenced to Yuma Prison, 111 met their death. Disease, accident, murder, suicide, and escape attempts were the causes of their demise. The remains of 104 unfortunate souls are interred in the Prison Cemetery.

1875 – Prison authorizes by Territorial Legislature
1876 – Prison Opens - First Convict: William Hall
1878 – First Female Convict: Lizzie Gallagher – First Escape by J. Lewis
1881 – Water Reservoir Constructed
1882 – Guard Tower Built
1884 – Electricity brought to prison with Dynamo-Generator. Lowell Battery Gun Purchased.
1885 – Sally Port built Hospital established.
1887 – Gates Riot: Four convicts dead, one wounded.
1889 – Female convict Manuela Fimbres gives birth to baby boy, Luis, in prison.
1891 – Women’s cells built.
1893 – Library dug out of south wall.
1894 – Dark Cell dug out of south wall.
1899 – Pearl Hart sentenced to 5 years for robbery.
1900 – New Yard opens.
1902 – Female convicts Elena Estrada and Rosa Duran serve time in Dark Cell.
1904 – Maximum Security cells built.
1905 – Martin Ubillos hangs at County Courthouse
1910 – Yuma High School at Prison until 1914.
1914 – County Hospital at Superintendent’s House.

Original Prison Structure

Yuma began to experience the American westward surge when countless immigrants crossed by ferry from Yuma on their way to the California gold fields in 1849. In 1850, a military post was established at Yuma, and when rich placer gold strikes on the Colorado River precipitated a gold rush in 1858, Yuma experienced a boom. In 1871 Yuma incorporated and became the county seat of Yuma County.

The Territorial Prison was authorized by the Legislature in 1875 and $25,000 was budgeted for the project. Ground was broken on April 28, 1876, and some of the prisoners were pressed into service to build their cells. The first seven inmates moved into the facility on July 1, 1876. The Prison held a variety of law violators, including the legendary stagecoach robber Pearl Hart. The Prison continued in operation for 33 years when, due to overcrowding, all inmates were moved to a new facility in Florence, Arizona.

New Prison Yard with Additional Prison Cells Opens - 1904

From the date of closure, the prison’s facilities have been occupied and used by various groups. After Yuma High School burned, the High School Board rented four structures and used them from 1910 until 1914. The school athletic teams became known as "The Criminals". The County Hospital utilized the facilities from 1914 until 1923. In 1924, the Southern Pacific Railroad demolished the western one-third of Prison Hill to make way for the new tracks. The Veterans of Foreign Wars leased the guard’s quarters in 1931 and used it as their clubhouse until 1960. Hobos, riding the trains in the 1920’s and 1930’s, stayed in the cells, and homeless families during the Great Depression lived in the cells.

The first request to preserve the Prison came in the early 1930’s, and in 1939 local residents began to raise funds for renovation of the guard tower and construction of a museum to be located on the site of the mess hall. The City of Yuma operated the museum and prison area until 1960. On October 4, 1960 the City of Yuma sold the Territorial Prison to the Yuma Parks Board for one dollar. The Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park opened to the public on a limited basis January 1, 1961.

Dark Cell: Cruel and Inhumane Punishment?
Unruly prisoners were sent to the Dark Cell. Prisoners were stripped to their undergarments and locked into a strap iron cage.Their one meal was bread and water, no bedding or restroom facilities were provided. Cleaned infrequently, the dark cell had a horrid stench. The only source of light was a small beam from the vent in the roof. Dug into the hill the Dark Cell was well insulated, with milder temperatures than outside conditions.

Dark Cell

Tomorrow another adventure begins.