Yuma is a produce Mecca! Years ago peanuts were a big crop but since the 90s the peanut farms have gone from about 35 farms to just 4. However, there’s a shop called The Peanut Patch that provides a small informational tour about peanut farming and we took advantage of that tour.
The Peanut Patch originally grew their own peanuts but back in 1996 an infestation of white flies caused most of the peanut farmers to close down production. Even though they don’t grow peanuts they still sell them and various other peanut products…as well as other treats.
Donna, the owner, gave a group of about 20 of us a very informative talk, showing us pictures, equipment and even a dried plant that were all passed around for a hands on experience. After explaining the process she walked us through the ‘back room’ where we viewed a woman making chocolate covered peanuts and another who had just made a batch of peanut brittle.
Oh….and don’t forget the samples…Spanish peanuts, fudge and peanut brittle. All very tasty. We brought home a small batch of peanut brittle…couldn’t very well not, now could we?
We were blessed to have lunch with new friend Lance & Tammi at Olive Garden one day this week. They’re PTB customers who Michael worked closely with to ensure that they got exactly what they wanted installed on their Grand Design 5er. We had a nice lunch and really enjoyed getting to know each other. They’re here in Yuma for several months yet but we’re hoping to possibly cross paths in Indiana this summer.
We took a drive to the official ‘Center of the World‘ in Felicity, California. Since the center of the world can be pretty much anywhere this little spot was able to claim the title because when owner Jacques-Andre Istel made the claim back on May 21, 1985, it couldn’t be disputed. So he went ahead and placed a plaque in the ground and built a pyramid over it to protect it.
Two years later, a town in France recognized Istel’s claim and its made history ever since. French history is recorded in granite on the site as well.
For a very small fee you can be escorted into the pyramid, put your foot upon the round disk and make a wish while looking at a beautiful view of the Chocolate Mountains. This is all witnessed by a staff member who records the time of your wish and then hands you a certificate with your name on it to memorialize your visit.
Here you’ll also find the Museum of History in granite. There are 18 or so granite monuments (shaped like Toblerone candy bar) displayed in a semi-circle of sorts. Many are still empty by many have been sandblasted with information about world events…various wars, pop culture, theology, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, animals, etc etc etc. Things that the owner believes worthy of sharing with future generations.
High upon a man-made hill behind the granite Toblerone exhibit stands a small church which is reached by climbing 49 steps. The views from atop the hill are magnificent and you can get a really good look at the layout of the strange exhibit below.
I’m not sure what type of services take place within the church but it was while up atop the hill that I really started to feel ‘spooked’ for use of a better word. There’s a small ‘graveyard’ behind the church with one massive piece of granite with about half a dozen names carved into it. The names of people who had been buried there.
The more we wandered around…the more I was reminded of the Heaven’s Gate scenario where people believed that if they killed themselves that a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp comet would pick them up and take them to a better place.
It was as if the gentleman who created all of this was leaving a ‘history’ of the world in granite (hoping for it to last longer than humanity) for future generations or aliens or who knows what to find it and to learn about lost generations.
It’s really a different kind of experience and I’d like to hear from others who’ve been there to see if they got the same ‘feeling’ that we did.
One of the biggest attractions in Yuma is the Yuma Territorial Prison. The prison in Yuma was opened on July 1, 1876 and was open for 1909 after a new prison was built due to overcrowding at the Yuma prison. Over the years is housed nearly 3100 prisoners…29 of which were women. Crimes ranged from polygamy to murder to selling liquor to Indians. The most common crime, however, was burglary.
Inmates ranged from 14 years to 88 years. Only two successful escapes were made from inside the prison while many others happened from outside while the prisoners were working or being transferred to the prison.
After the prison closed in 1909 the local high school was in need of a building temporarily so they used part of the prison for classes from 1910 to 1914. During a local football game between Phoenix and Yuma high schools the Yuma team pulled off a win for which the Phoenix team dubbed them ‘Criminals’ (or Crims for short) and the name stuck. Yuma high school is still the ‘Criminals’ today…they use the face of a hardened criminal as their mascot.
We also went on a tour of Martha’s Gardens…a date farm on the north side of Yuma. We were loaded up on a trailer pulled by a cart and our tour guide, Nels, who is the owners 21-year-old son drove us through the date palm fields making several stops along the way to educate us about the date farming process. Harvest isn’t until August so there weren’t any dates growing as it is just now approaching pollination time.
But Nels was very thorough in the information he provided. His family grows Medjool dates…the top of the line pretty much. There are 3,000 different types of dates and they have about 7 or so different types in the store. Neither Michael or I had ever had a date but we sampled about 4 different types. We actually weren’t big fans of the Medjools as the texture was too ‘mushy’ for out liking. There were a couple of smaller types that had a firmer texture that we liked much better. Though I don’t think you’ll find us munching on dates any time soon.
They are known for their date shakes so we had to try one and were quite surprised at how tasty they were. Very, very good. If you get a chance…try one. We also picked up a date loaf (like banana bread) to enjoy when we get a hankering for something sweet.
I had someone tell us there wasn’t much to do in Yuma…I think we’ve been kept pretty busy and haven’t been able to do everything we’d like to do. We’ll be back…next year if we go to the Quartzsite show again. There’s even an airport here…maybe our offspring will come visit…hint hint!
We’ll be departing Yuma on Monday and heading east to Sierra Vista where we’ll be staying at the Fort Huachuca FamCamp for a couple of weeks while we explore that area.