The first full day in Yuma dawned sunny and warm – just as we’d hoped it would. And of course that’s pretty much how all mornings go around here at this time of year 🙂
We ate breakfast at a great little bakery/restaurant and then went to the historical Yuma Territorial prison. We entered the prison through the souvenir shop and the helpful site supervisor showed us the map and indicated the best way to go through the exhibit. He said ‘From Canada! You’re a long way from home!’ I assumed Warren had mentioned where we were from so didn’t think anything of it. After he was done, I asked Warren how the guy knew we were Canadian? Warren shrugged and said ‘I thought you told him’.
The prison was very interesting – it was built by the inmates who eventually inhabited it. The prison was finally completed on July 1, 1876 and in its 30 years of operation housed 3069 prisoners – 29 of which were women. The women served some odd sentences – one woman got 2 years for adultery. Another served 42 days for murdering her husband. I think this indicates pretty clearly how they thought bad marriages should be dealt with… 😉
The prison had very small cells that housed 6 inmates in each one. The inmates were also all shackled and chained to a large ring set into the floor – it’s hard to imagine how anyone ever got any sleep as I’m sure the chains would rattle when anyone moved, and the small rooms would have been stifling. there was a small courtyard where the men could take their exercise once a day and the rest of the time if they were not used as labour, they were in their cells. The women’s courtyard was on the other side of the prison, however that part of the prison is now gone so we didn’t see it – it was torn down when the railroad came through. There was also the Dark cell which had no light (hence the name… lol) and a solid door with a wee little grate in it. This was their version of solitary confinement and the room was so small that a person could not stand erect in it. Not much fun when you were in there anywhere from 4 to 104 days…
As we were poking about Warren encouraged me to step inside a cell to get my picture taken… of course as a trusting and loving person I stepped inside… Eventually I was released for good behaviour but it was touch and go for a few moments there.
We continued our tour by heading up to the guard tower. This is a large platform with views in all directions and once the prison was closed, the tower was still used as a viewing station for a bunch of different reasons – one was to keep an eye out for planes during WWII. That’s me keeping an eye out for things in the picture below. aside from trees and the odd tourist, there is nothing suspicious to report.
When we returned to the souvenir shop the site supervisor asked us how we enjoyed the exhibit and I asked him how he knew we were from canada. He grinned and admitted that he used to work as a guard in a prison and learned to quickly take in details of people… and he read Warren’s licence when Warren got his wallet out to pay. I’m sure that’s not creepy…
We bought a couple of books on the birds of arizona – it’s been driving me nuts not being able to identify the birds I see – and another book which identifies the different types of cactus. You would be amazed the number of different cactus there are in the desert. It turns out though, that I probably should have bought a book about insects because we saw this when we went to explore downtown Yuma:
It’s a Hummingbird Hawk-Moth – an insect that moves exactly like a hummingbird when it is in flight. We were sure it was a hummingbird until we realized it had antennae. That gave us pause. So as soon as I was able I googled Hummingbird bugs (click here) and this is what showed up. I’ve never seen one before so it was pretty exciting for me! Warren was the excellent photographer – if you look in the first picture carefully you can see the moth has his proboscis in the flower as he slurps up the nectar.
The downtown of Yuma is gorgeous and has some very lovely old buildings. Unfortunately everything except the restaurants were closed today so we just window shopped. When we were finally back at the truck, we went for a tour of Yuma again – looked at the RV and resort parks – there are some lovely little vacation homes here.
By then it was time for supper so we headed off to a place called Chretin’s – a mexican food place that had wonderful food. We sat outside on the patio in the warm arizona air and watched the sun fade. It was a wonderful end to the day.
Tomorrow we are heading to Mexico to go shopping!