Our Season in Yuma

December 22, 2017-March 12, 2018

Our stay in Yuma would best be described as our “season” in Yuma. Coming in at 80 days, this is the longest continuous stay at any one place by far. We settled into a routine, enjoying the luxuries of being parked in Brad’s parents’ driveway, including but not limited to free WiFi, a full-sized clean shower, date nights without the girls, and lots & lots of family time.

We had a special week of Christmas magic since Aunt Julie & her whole family joined the fun in Yuma. Gingerbread houses, the smell of chex mix toasting in the oven, backyard bonfires, exploring decadent neighborhood lighting displays, late night games of Pit…it was a wonderful holiday filled with traditions, old and new.
On New Year’s Eve the girls and I enjoyed the City of Yuma’s Family Fun Night. Jumpy castles, crafts, the girls’ first taste of dip-n-dots, photo op with their least favorite painting ever, and more!

We moved from Christmas season with lots of extended family to the frigid 70 degree days of January, to Valentine’s Day to early spring. So the stay as a whole cannot be described concisely – it was an entire season. Some of the overarching themes, however, were plugging into a community. For us that meant weekly gymnastics, familiar trails, grocery store discounts, borrowing things from neighbors, and lots of karate lessons. I loved the feeling of knowing my way around, but because we didn’t know anyone besides Mom & Pops, it seemed like we should have had a lot of free time. But that weird thing began to happen after a couple of weeks…we got on the carousel of a weekly routine…school/work/sports/volunteer commitments/wanting to relax on weekends, and time warped into lightning speed. Days and days slipped by with anonymity, which was bizarre but restful. It was an easy place to stay. And keep staying. And keep staying. I forgot how nice it was to NOT be moving our house around the country every few days – premaking meals for the travel days, packing up everything inside, looking ahead for future arrangements. We planned to stay for 1 month minimum, and the first time we looked at heading to our next destination, all other locations seemed to be experiencing this bizarre phenomenon called “winter”. In Yuma we were wearing tank tops and occasionally running the Stumbo’s A/C in the afternoons, as one week in January hit 85 multiple times.

A major plus of being in one location for so long was participating in some extracurriculars. The both received gymnastics as Christmas gifts!
Grandpa invited Sunny to take some karate lessons at his dojo, and it ended up being a fantastic activity for this spirited kiddo.
There were so many shenanigans with Grandma & Grandpa…the girls got to help Grandma make prototypes of crafts used in therapy like calming jars and other games. We visited a petting zoo and enjoyed free samples at a local date farm. Early risers were rewarded with special breakfasts with G & G at the Donut Corral. We were even in town to catch the Yuma Hank’s Day Parade!
We all enjoyed numerous drives out into the desert in Grandpa’s baja bug. (shoes optional)
Sunny taking down both of her instructors.
This kid…
We celebrated 2 belt ceremonies with Sunny. I’m not sure if she was more excited about belting up or the frozen custard. Grandpa made Coral a Certificate of Awesomeness to celebrate Coral being such a supportive sister, too.
Sunny spent about a month counting down the days until Harry Potter Day at the library. They had a blast (wearing G & G’s bathrobes, pinned up so they wouldn’t drag…) participating in all the games and activities, competing for points between the different wizard houses. The both won HP glasses, and Sunny wore hers every single day, pretending that she couldn’t see a thing without them, for about a month…
During our stay in Yuma, we stole both Grandpa & Grandma’s library cards. It had been awhile since we’d been able to check out books. Sunny pretty much did a clean sweep of the Foothills Branch juvenile graphic novel section!
Sunny had been begging to have a lemonade stand at basically every place we’ve camped for the last 18 months. She finally found her opportunity in G & G’s neighborhood. They took their preparations very seriously.
I think they made as much profit from people giving them money for being so cute as they did from selling any product.
When we finished our American Girl book on manners, the girls hosted a fancy 7 Course Dinner for Grandma & Grandpa. The made invitations, menus, playlists, and served their guests throughout the meal. It was a great night with delicious food and we capped it off with a dance party.
One weekend we visited the Historic Yuma Territorial Prison. It seemed to be a pretty rough place, and apparently housed some pretty rough people as well.
During Germanfest weekend in Yuma, we participated in what was for the girls & I our 1st Volksmarch. Brad and his family did a lot of these 5K “People’s Walk” in Germany in the 90’s. It was really special to get the chance to do this with Grandma, and we celebrated with some bratwurst at the finish line.
The girls and I did a homeschooling unit on the Solar System while we were in Yuma. It ended up being a great place for it, as the library had mostly opportunities to star gaze with their fancy, high-powered telescopes. We got to see the Orion Nebula where new stars are being born, as well as peak at Mercury and Venus. We also woke up early one morning to watch the red lunar eclipse from G & G’s rooftop. As an art project under Brad’s direction, the girls painted push lights to look like the sun and planets. Later, to present what they had learned, they did a back-yard planetary display with the push-lights as the rest of us enjoyed from the roof-top viewing deck.
In a totally special & unexpected treat, my dear friend from Wenatchee was in Phoenix for a conference, and we got to spend one afternoon together. Since I hadn’t seen any friends since October, I talked both her ears off even MORE than usual! We had such a blast reconnecting and exploring some of Phoenix together.
On another weekend we had a girls’ trip to this bizarre little place just west of Yuma, in Felicity, CA. It’s the self proclaimed “Official Center of the World”, and the entire town is the property of 1 man who has turned it into a giant outdoor museum, kindof. It’s hard to explain…it’s a mish-mash of art pieces, a giant sundial, a remnant of the the original steps up the Eiffel Tower, rows upon rows of granite slabs with the history of the world etched in with the intention of outlasting any other record, a church on a man-made hill, and a pyramid protecting the marker for the ACTUAL center of the world which you can enter for an additional fee. There was also a labyrinth of remembrance where etchings of loved ones can be displayed, but it’s relatively new so it was mostly just a concrete maze with 2 small sections covered in tributes to deceased family members and friends. One was all pets. To learn more about this bizarre place, click the image.


We even got the joy of celebrating both Grandpa & Grandma’s birthdays while we were in town!
On another weekend we braved miles of dirt road to visit the ghost town of Castle Dome City. When mining towns like this one went bust, most of the people simply walked away, leaving most of their possessions behind to start over at the next new mining town. The result is nearly perfectly preserved entire towns, full of countless interesting paraphernalia from every day life. One of the most interesting rooms (not pictured) was a dentist’s “office” – a single tiny room with all sorts of torturous looking tools. On a rope hanging from the wall, hundreds of receipts from prescriptions for alcohol hung as a testament to the way many worked around prohibition.
Coral’s recipe for the perfect sandwich… Tomato. Check! Mayonaise. Check! Avocado. (obviously…) Check!

During our stay in the Yuma Foothills, each morning at day break and every evening at dusk we listened to a chorus of mourning doves sing throughout the neighborhood, and as the sky got darker we could watch the bats fluttering around the house catching bugs. It really felt like home for a season, and we are so grateful for Mom & Pops’ hospitality.

We aren’t ready to be done with our life on the road, but our 80 days in Yuma were a wonderful breather, and we are back on the road now, refreshed and excited to have more new experiences.

1 Comment

  1. Marie says: Reply

    Sunny’s face in their least favorite art piece is hilarious!! and Coral’s phonetic spelling of avocado is THE BEST. I’m glad you had such a great time slowing down a little (or speeding up time). The pictures of Sunny doing karate make me cry. I don’t know why….I just love that little spirited booger!

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