We had been looking forward to this little trip for some time. We went down to visit some friends; two couples, living in Yuma. Gary and Debbie have been long time residents of Yuma; and Howard and Kathy who are from Idaho, and were staying down there for a while. I have known Howard and Kathy since I was in high school. The year before, Howard had asked to make a trip to Alaska with me on the tug. We made the arrangements and set the dates. This was back when I could do that. Howard asked if he could bring along his friend Gary, who loves boats. I thought it was a great idea. Well, we made the trip and had a really good time. While we were on the trip Gary asked if we would come on down to Yuma for a visit. So that is how this whole trip came about. We decided on February while I had some time off. February in Seattle is not to die for, and the thought of a break in 70 degree weather was heavenly.
Yuma has perfect weather in the winter. It was dry and hot, with beautiful blue skies without a cloud in sight. We loved it. We stayed with Howard and Kathy, and they showed us what was happening around town. Howard is retired, so he had the time. Gary has several small businesses, and during the day was tied up. It was very interesting to see how it is along the border down there. Not what we are use to in the northwest. Howard took us out around the area surrounding Yuma to see the farms and all the snowbirds camped out on the BLM lands. Yuma is there because of the Colorado River. The water gives life to the desert, and makes the farms possible. It also attracts those trying to escape the cold, wet northern winters. There is a lot of cheap shopping just across the border in Mexico, and that attracts many people. It is a different kind of place, and I can see why so many are attracted to it.
We went out to the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG to the locals) and saw the display of old Army equipment. This is pretty tough country, and if you can get something to survive out there, it should make it anywhere. Thatís how the Army sees it anyway. There were various artillery pieces, armored vehicles, and rockets on display. Many had been tested at YPG during their development, and are post WW II era. On the way back to town, we stopped by some fields that were being picked, and Janet ran out and bummed some lettuce at one and some broccoli at another. We had them for dinner that night and they were so good. She sure got a kick out of it.
When Friday came, the six of us headed over to San Diego for the weekend to do some boating and sightseeing. Gary keeps his pride and joy in San Diego at a marina right downtown on the walk. It is a very nice 41 foot Searay, which he keeps in immaculate condition. It was great to be able to sit back and watch Gary work his boat. He is extremely good with it. He let me take the controls and do some maneuvering, and it was really something to see how different the Searay handled compared to the tug I normally run. It required a completely different way of handling, to get it to steer, until it was moving pretty good and the rudders became effective. At low speed, it was all using your engines in forward and reverse to control your speed and steer.
We had a great day cruising San Diego harbor. There is so much to see and do there. It is a great place for Gary to keep his boat, as it is only a couple of hours from their home, and a really nice area to cruise. We spent a day cruising the bay and out to Point Loma. We stopped for dinner at one of their favorite spots with a dock in the north bay. How much fun is that? The next day we walked the harbor walk and visited the Midway, the Star of India, and the Rose (which was used for the surprise in the movie Master and Commander).
The Midway is so spectacular. The group running it have done an amazing job, in creating this floating museum. While we were there, Gary and I did the aircraft flight simulator and flew a F-4 Phantom. I flew and Gary was the RIO. We did pretty good and gave plenty more than we got. I managed to trap on two out of three carrier landings. On the second approach I did a go-around because I got low on short final, gave it too much power and ballooned too high to continue the landing. The third was a night landing. I was so gassed when we finished, I felt like I had drank a case of Red Bull. Even though the simulator was bolted to the deck, it was a real rush.
After we got back to Yuma we did a little shopping in Mexico and had a good time there. But all too soon it was time to go home. It was a great trip visiting wonderful friends. It is too bad that I don't have more time to make more of these.