Southern Border Adventure 2008 travel blog

Driving through the Sands aka ATV mecca

The drivers of the ATVs are probably in their early teens...

Oscar the shuttle service

Algodones, Mexico

Lunch for $3.50 - shrimp quesadilla

Local's favorite restaurant

Music in the courtyard

Someone after my own heart - now that's orange!

Tequila and margarita drinking in the hot sun

Border crossing

Watch Tower at Yuma Territorial Prison

Balloon taking off near Yuma


Most of the time, I use the showers in the RV Park if they have them and if the water is hot. I don't know that it's any easier or better than taking a shower in the camper, but I figure I'm paying for it, so why not. I used the showers at Palm Canyon, but I realized that it also makes a big difference if the bath houses are heated! In Indio, it was, but in AB, it wasn't. Brrr...

I got on the road by 9am after waving back furiously to Joshua's muffled but loud Good Morning announcement through the front window. If his grandparents were still asleep, I have a feeling he'd just woken them up with his greeting to me. I took S3 (Borrego Springs Rd) from the round-about in town to 78E which joins with 86S for a spell. I saw more of the Salton Sea and continued through Westmorland (pop 1590)and Brawley (pop 26000), stopping for gas just before I turned on to 111S which meets up with 8E. A nice easy drive that started with the desert and the mountains and eventually became crops and mountains.

I can't think of the proper name of the Sand Dunes that I drove past, but they were really neat. I believe they filmed part of Star Wars there. I was amazed at how many RVs I saw absolutely everywhere, and how many families with young children were driving dirt bikes and ATV's (all terrain vehicles). It being a three day holiday weekend, perhaps there were more people than usual, but really I had no idea. Oh, and I'd been noticing that the ditches are named in this part of the country. I guess they'd be rivers in other parts of the country, but here there are ditches, lots and lots of ditches and they are all named. And they all looked the same to me, but I think they must be used as landmarks to know where to turn off into the sand dunes to meet your friends.

I had read about a border crossing to Mexico just six or eight miles before Yuma at Algodenes. I decided to drive the few miles down the road to see what it looked like and if it felt safe. (Should I text someone to let them know where I was headed?) I got close to the border and did a u-turn when I got to the sign that said LAST U-TURN in the US. Although picturing the Sea Dragon in Mexico made me smile. I pulled into the huge lots on the West side of the road that are managed by the Indian reservation and parked in the RV section with the other three RVs. There were lots more automobiles, but I could see that they weren't filled to capacity. As I started walking towards what seemed to be the crossing point, a shuttle driver came along and offered a ride to the walkway (Oscar in the pic). He told me when I came back across, I could ask the man in the white cap to give him a call and he'd take me back to the RV as well. Hmmm, okay, thanks (I'll think about that.) I walked across and was immediately surrounded by pharmacies and dental offices. It seems that the snowbirds keep this border town hopping with their prescriptions and dental work. I have never seen so many dental offices in one place. Every other store front was either a pharmacy or dental office. There were markets in front on the sidewalk, and restaurants made up the difference.

I wandered along a couple of streets, bought a small clay dish and a turquoise pendant after bartering of course, and decided I was hungry. I had planned on eating at Lute's in Yuma - world famous for their mashed potato tacos - but the sign that read $2 quesadillas caught my eye, and at least half a dozen dental office employees had walked in and out. If the locals like it, it must have something going for it. While I was eating, a man with his guitar came along and sang a song for us. He was looking for tips of course, but he was good and I enjoyed it so I gave him a $1. He said "thank you pretty lady, are you married?" Without missing a beat, I said yes, and with my hand underneath the table, I switched the ring on my right hand to my left hand. I left it there for the rest of the day.

There was a band playing in the courtyard by the police station, and vendors and Americans everywhere. I stopped in a grocery store and bought a couple of juice drinks and toilet paper (I know an odd thing to buy in Mexico, but I needed it and there it was). The line to come back across the border had gotten much longer while I was there, and I had to wait about 25 minutes to show my passport and tell them what I'd bought. I listened to music on my iPhone for most of the time because the foursome behind me were so loud I couldn't hear myself think. All I kept thinking was loud ugly Americans... sssshhh!

Back across the border no problem, and there was a different shuttle driver waiting at the sidewalk so I hopped on and he took me back to the RV section. I drove back up 186 to I8 and within 15 minutes was in Yuma, AZ.

I made it out of California and into the second of eight states I need to drive through to get to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Woo hoo!

I stopped at the Yuma Territorial Prison on my way into town. I didn't like it. I don't know that anyone really likes prisons, but I find Alcatraz kind of interesting. Yuma gave me the creeps. There were common folks including women who were in jail, but there no Russell Crowes I'll tell you that much. I did get a kick out of the woman at the visitor center talking with a PR guy from another prison museum somewhere else (I forget which one) who were comparing notes on cell size, number of prisoners, etc. etc. It was a bit of a one-up match - "well our cells were only 10 x 6 and the days started at 5am..."

The prison was pretty advanced for it's time. It produced it's own electricity using hydro power from the two rivers that merged at the prison and even sold it to the town of Yuma for use after 9pm. There was a library and all kinds of shops for learning trades once the prisoners had done their time. Over the years when it stopped being a prison it was used as the high school and other municipal buildings.

There was a hot air balloon being filled with air in a parking lot close by so I watched while that filled up and then drove through the old town main street looking for Lute's and imagining my friend Sue's father and his family living in the town and running a couple of small businesses there. There were lots of people on the street enjoying the shops and the movie theater. I wished I'd bypassed the prison and spent the hour moseying along the Main Street, but sometimes you just don't know, and I wanted to find the RV Park which was still another 10 miles down the road.

I found Blue Sky RV easily. How could you miss a bright blue big building?

(There's more to come on this day...but I'm turning in for the night - it's actually Monday night at this point. I have a little catching up to do...)

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