Migrating South as Winter Yumans
Two years ago, we joined other RVers and migrated to Yuma, Arizona, for the winter months when the average temperature high is 24° Celsius or 75° Fahrenheit.
We settled into the Shangri-La RV Resort, one of over 60 RV resorts in the area. With swimming pool and spa, exercise room, laundry room, shuffleboard, horseshoes, putting greens, pet walk areas, cable TV, wireless internet, and recreation hall for social events, the resort became our community. There were grocery stores, post office, restaurants, and golf courses nearby.
In addition to the warm, dry weather, and the proximity to the margaritas, music, and shopping in Mexico, there was lots to do in downtown Yuma. We stepped into Arizona’s history by discovering the Yuma Quartermaster Depot that supplied forts in five states, by mule train. We walked the walls, felt the isolation, saw the guns and personal items of the men and women who had been incarcerated in the Yuma Territorial Prison, known in its day as the “Country Club on the Colorado.” At City Hall, we stood under an airplane that in 1949 flew 1,124 hours, non-stop, fueled by people traveling in a convertible at 80 miles per hour beneath the plane. At the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel, in the unit designated as the Casa de la Coronado Museum we reminisced over the artifacts of the early days of family motoring and staying overnight in motels across North America.
Yuma’s location provides never-ending opportunity for outdoor activities. There are bike and walking trails along the banks of the Colorado River where Burrowing Owls, hummingbirds and numerous endangered and threatened species are sighted. We finally photographed an elusive Roadrunner after several humorous episodes of trying to follow him through the desert dust. We spent quiet afternoons at the beach along the river. Dams on the area’s water system have created limitless backwater channels and lakes for world-class fishing. For a fee, we drove the swirling Algodones Dunes of the Sonoran Desert in a Hummer, not at the wheel but belted, white-knuckled, into our seats. We joined other RVers in their four-wheelers to explore nearby mountains and after a date farm tour we enjoyed date shakes, the perfect cool down on a hot winter day.
Our restaurant experience in Yuma was eclectic. At La Fonda Restaurant & Corn Tortilla Factory we not only indulged in homemade tortillas and tamales but thick tortilla soup served with tortilla strips, avocado, cheese, and sour cream. A breakfast, at a table nestled in an oasis under trees and vines at The Garden Café, was Sonoran Scramble and Oatmeal Pancakes. Lutes Casino is a fun place with piano playing, clinking glasses, and a room full of memorabilia. Bob, the owner, introduced us to his signature dish, a cheese burger hot dog combination. At the Farmhouse, the kale lemonade was fresh, sweet, yet slightly tart. The Brussels sprouts, tiny lamb chops, and scallops were seared on the grill. The Yuma Landing Restaurant and Lounge sits on the spot where the first airplane, rented from the Wright brothers, landed in Yuma in 1911.
Ninety percent of leafy vegetables produced in the United States in the winter months are grown in Yuma. We learned that the laser leveled fields of the Colorado River valley generate two million pounds of bagged lettuce and salad mix every day. In January, February, and early March, the Yuma Visitors Bureau celebrates the area’s fresh-from-the-fields bounty by providing tours. On the Savor Yuma tour we dined on a progressive dinner, enjoying each course at a different restaurant. The Field to Feast tour took us directly to the food source, the farmer’s field, where after our group pulled, cut, and dug broccoli, cauliflower, and parsnips, the vegetables were taken away and prepared for our lunch.
In the spring, as Yuma’s comfortable winter temperatures began to rise into the 30s, Celsius, and 80s, Fahrenheit, we and thousands of other Winter Yumans, started our engines and headed north.
This refreshing, all vegetable recipe reminds us of Yuma, Arizona, the ultimate vegetable patch.
(Makes 2 to 4 servings)
2 medium green zucchini
2 medium yellow zucchini
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) sea salt
1/8 teaspoon (.625 ml) pepper
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Thinly slice the zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Trim the ends then run the peeler down the length of the zucchini until reaching the seeds. Rotate the zucchini and slice the ribbons until only the seeds remain. Discard the seeds.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic. Stir and cook until the garlic has softened but not browned. Remove the garlic slices from the oil.
Add the zucchini ribbons, salt, and pepper to the frying pan. Toss and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until the vegetable ribbons are tender but not soft.
Just before serving add the parsley and toss to coat the ribbons.