Yuma, AZ: no thank you

I appreciate that not all cities can be the civic equivalent to a beauty queen, but some get such the short end of the pretty stick that it’s hard not to feel sorry for them.  Yuma, AZ, is near the top of my list of places that just don’t seem to have any draw and that I’d prefer to avoid.  So why, then, did the intrepid travelers spend the better part of 10 days there?! Well, that all boils down to teeth and torrential rain.

A few weeks ago, JJ mentioned that one of his fillings wasn’t feeling so hot.  It was actually the best time for a minor dental issue, because our friends Dave and Max were headed to Yuma in order to go to the booming Mexican dental town of Los Algodones.  We decided to join in on their adventure, camping out in the parking lot of a casino two miles from the border.  Even with the interludes of dental care, it was good to see them and enjoy their company.

We were all ready to make a loop through sunny Southern California, when I started looking at the weather.  While “Pineapple Express” sounds like a good time, it actually means lots and lots of rain and snow for the Pacific coast, and I saw nothing but precipitation for the next week.  And also high wind and flood warnings, and other good reasons not to hang out boondocking in the desert. So we aborted travel plans, and plunked down at one of our membership parks in Yuma.

And then something happened that really cemented my dislike for Yuma.  I went out for a long walk on the rural roads around the RV Park.  I had watched a group of bicyclists head out earlier that morning, and I figured that it was a safe area for me to be out.  As I passed a large ranch complex with a huge perimeter fence, I heard tons of barking.  And then, a pack of at least 6 big dogs ran out the open gate, crossed the road to me, and surrounded me.  I fought every urge to scream and run, and just pulled my hands up near my chest and talked quietly.  Even now, I’m feeling my pulse speed up, just thinking about it again, and it was one of the few times I was truly scared that I might die.  One of the German shepherds circled around behind me, and bit me in the calf.  It speaks to my adrenaline that I didn’t even feel it, but just kept talking low and backing up.  They stayed in place, I kept moving back, and eventually, I was far enough away to turn and walk fast and call JJ to get the hell in the car and start driving, and I would explain later.

He got me back to the park and Animal Control came out.  The officer took a statement and asked if I could identify which dog.  But, there were multiple German shepherds, and I can’t.  So, the best he could do was go over to the ranch, confirm all the dogs were current on their rabies vaccines, and issue a citation of $50 per loose dog. The one lucky part is that the bite was only a couple puncture wounds, and I had a stash of antibiotics for just such an occasion.  The worst part of the whole thing is that I feel really scared to be out alone now.  I appreciate that I could buy any number of products like a mace spray, or other deterrent, but none of those would have been effective in this particular scenario.  I need to use my sociologist brain to remember that nothing like that has even happened to me before, and instead focus on the million times I’ve walked alone with no problems.  It’s going to be some time before I feel calm again.

I once read a book whose formula really beat me down.  (World Without End by Ken Follett) At every turn, the protagonists could either experience situation A or situation B.  And I quickly realized the pattern, where each and every time, the bad option would happen to them.  I don’t mean to say that I have a Truman show disorder, but I’m starting to feel like maybe Ken Follett is writing my life, too.  Last year was really tough for me, including a lot of things that happened, both personal and public, that I never even mentioned here.  I keep trying to see the good, but I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit defeated, and ready for a new story line.  Thanks for listening to a departure from the usual travelogue, and I sure could use some good thoughts sent my way.


We did get out and do a few things that were pleasant.  Telegraph Pass is a super steep hike up a service road that leads to commanding views and an array of communication towers.

At the top is a registry book left by the “Mystery Hiker”, who says he’s been to the top over 1000 times:

This might be one of my favorite pictures of JJ, ever:

We also visited Imperial Dam Wildlife Refuge, where the Colorado River provides a home for tons of wintering birds:

Painted Desert Trail:

Next up: somewhere that is not Yuma.


2 thoughts on “Yuma, AZ: no thank you

  1. Dear friend Rayn, what a terrifying experience. I am a dog lover, but I am not naive where loose/aggressive dogs are concerned. I have twice been charged by loose dogs, and it is no fun. Thank heavens your experience with rough dogs at CAHS served you so well. Just keep in mind that walking alone anywhere, even in good ‘ole Grandview Heights, can be a risk, not just on a remote western trail, so don’t let yourself be deterred from doing what you love. Be patient, and soon enough your fear will subside. And…even if a smidgen remains, a little healthy fear and vigilance is not a bad thing, either.

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