And the road goes on forever...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A New Rant

Ok, so we’re here in Yuma checking out all possible job sources and one especially mentioned, particularly by my daughter, is Craigslist. I want you to know I applied for six jobs this past week!

About the only other source locally is the Yuma Sun, where predictably this time of year, about three new jobs a day appear, for a population suffering from a 27% unemployment rate.* On top of that is the fact that many positions require bilingual, which I am not. Yeah, I know: this is the USA but that doesn’t count south of I-10. And now schools are letting out—all the high school kids and two colleges, and that comes on top of the fairly recent news that some of Yuma’s major employers, employing hundreds, are shutting down permanently. No wait; there’s more!

You may have noticed lately that I’ve let my hair take its natural course; which is now grey! Personally I think I’m in fairly decent shape for someone my age (which I’ve never kept a secret); I walk about two miles daily and feel as though I am in good health and still fairly astute. But let me be perfectly clear here: trying to land a job in this economy at my age is not for sissies!

Back to Craigslist. Here in Yuma, it actually has an entire column of jobs as compared to the Yuma Sun—oh heaven! I was applying left and right; personalizing each resume like the current wisdom tells us to do; including a cover letter, taking hours of my time. I have a separate email set up for my job search stuff—just common sense, right? It’s included on my resume, but of course when I send off an email to a blind job ad it originates from my main email domain.

Not even the next day; as a matter of fact, just hours, and the emails started hitting my “junk file” on my main domain. I’m all excited: someone is reacting! Until I check to see I am receiving absurd letters citing my “qualifications, experience, etc etc” but I need to just click on this link because: employer will not hire without a complete credit check in advance of even interviewing me (yeah right); or “our CEO requires that all resumes be sent via the Career Network for consistency and easier tracking” or try this one on for size: “To be considered, ca n d i da te s must possess strong co mm un i ca t i o n/interpersonal sk i l l s, the ab il it y to interact w it h people at al l levels of th e firm, and excellent organizational skills. Ca n di da te s mu s t be se lf starters and be ab le to undertake responsibilities with limited supervision. They must also be able to multi-task, and have a working knowledge of MS Office.
Familiarity with other types of software is a plus.” I tried sending an entire copy of this email to a friend and my spell checker about froze up!

Who are they kidding? Not this grey-haired ol’ gal. Ah, one of the wonders with age—you gain a little wisdom! Craigslist? It’s off the list!

For those of you who may be going through something similar a great check-up site is It’ll separate the wheat from the chaff in no time. Every single email I have checked on this site in response to my job inquiries has proven bogus. One has to truly wonder about people who have nothing better to do than add insult to injury to those of us unemployed for so long.

From today's Yuma Sun:
*"This is depressing times for several Yuma businesses and their employees.

Comings and Goings has learned that Tritium Card Services has closed its doors, leaving about 50 employees without jobs. Tritium, located at 3280 S. 4th Ave. in the Mervyn's Plaza, opened in mid-2007.

Meanwhile, Friday was the last day for NCO Customer Management at 1801 W. 32nd St.

A letter in March to the center's Yuma employees from Tim Luft, vice president of operations, announced that the office would be closing effective May 28 "due to business decisions and requirements."

At the time, the call center had a work force of 332 employees. There are reports that a few of them will remain with NCO at another Yuma-area location that hasn't been announced.

Comings and Goings also has confirmed that Hollywood Video at 1555 S. Avenue B is having a liquidation sale and is slated for closure by mid-June. The store currently has nine employees."

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Gilas

They loom over our lot regardless of what we do, what time of day or night, whatever the weather. I’m talking of course about the rosy-hued mountain range of rugged rock practically right outside our doorstep, the Gila Mountains. They run northwest-southeast, about 26 miles long is all and are a *fault-blocked range attached in the south to the Tinajas Atlas which continue onto into Sonora, Mexico for another 30 miles.
*According to Wikipedia: Fault-block landforms (mountains, hills, ridges, etc.) are formed when large areas of bedrock are widely broken up by faults creating large vertical displacements of continental crust. Vertical motion of the resulting blocks, sometimes accompanied by tilting, can then lead to high escarpments. These mountains are formed by the Earth's crust being stretched and extended by tensional forces. Fault block mountains commonly accompany rifting, another indicator of tensional tectonic forces. Tilted type block mountains have one gently sloping side and one steep side with an exposed scarp, and are common in the Basin and Range region of the western United States. Lucky for us, we get the steep side here on the west.

One of the oldest sections of the interstate highway system in the US goes through two-tiered Telegraph Pass at the north end of this range. The I-8 road cuts in this area exposed some of the oldest metamorphic rocks in the state of Arizona, outside of rocks exposed at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Somehow, looking at the majesty of this small mountain range, you can feel the power of those eons of time etched on her face.

Sheep Mountain is the highest peak notable in this range, with a height of nearly 3600 feet which climbs steeply from the desert floor just beyond our subdivision at an elevation of 800 feet. The foothills just below it are criss-crossed with dirt Jeep trails, deceptively steeper than they look from a distance. On this day Marc asks me “Let’s go up and watch the sunset?” “OK”.

Marc enjoys four-wheeling in our old Dodge one ton dually—for one thing, it is geared very low with lots of low end torque and power and a 5 speed manual transmission which in low range first gear will cruise at idle speed without need of even stepping on the gas pedal. What it lacks in narrow maneuverability it makes up for with its slow speed power, allowing us to climb very steep hills without spinning nary a tire. The axles carry its weight and distribution evenly, which also helps as we wallow down one side of a wash and up the other side but unlike most trucks it is not light in the back end. The Jeep trails are very narrow however, skirting the tips of the flowing escarpments Wikipedia talks of as they climb yet higher. Sometimes with only the sky for a view as we crest a hill and not knowing what’s on the other side, Marc hikes his head way out his side window to see that all six tires remain on the trail and not over the steep hillside. This would be a nasty place to roll a vehicle.

Finally, we reach the apex of the circle loop of trail we are on and find a fire pit, obvious evidence of other sunset watchers and I take some pictures of the lackluster sunset and our neighborhood—appearing as an island in a sea of flat desert disappearing into the dusk. Just minutes later we creep down in low gear without lights; wrapped in the cocoon of desert solace and peace.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There Are Some Good Things About Living in the Desert

Given this time of year, I thought this was interesting! Looking at my weather-watch on Yahoo, where would you rather be for the next three days?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our Personal Recession: From the Pan into the Fire

Despite applying for several of the few job openings which have occurred, our search for employment continues to be futile. I’m beginning to think we’ve both really hit that glass ceiling of age discrimination but how does one actually prove it? Does being asked the question if I can “keep up” while interviewing for a housekeeping job (while the inference was very obvious), qualify? The unemployment numbers here are the highest in the nation as evidenced by this recent article from the Yuma Sun, from which I have excerpted crucial parts:

“The Yuma-area's jobless rate inched downward, reaching 26.7 percent for the month of April, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Department of Commerce. But it's a statistic that isn't showing much stability from month to month....
Even the state's troubled construction industry managed to post a modest gain of 2,200 workers. But overall construction employment is still 19,800 below what it was a year earlier, and 134,700 below the peak in June 2006....
For example, the number of people employed in Arizona in April is still 38,200 less than a year earlier....
But Van Sickle said even the end of the recession - whenever that happens - won't translate into lower unemployment. He said statistics from prior recessions show that hiring usually doesn't start in earnest until sometime later.
"There's a lot of individual people represented by all these job losses," he said, citing the Arizona figures. "Their personal recession is going to continue for a long time."
Job losses are only part of the picture.
"There's a lot of people who had to take pay cuts," Van Sickle said.
"So they could come out and say 'the recession's ended,' but personal recessions will continue for a long time," he said.”

Boy, do we feel the pain of that truth, media hype to the contrary that the country’s recession has ended. One of my biggest fears is that we have no more than moved here than we will be forced, once again, to go on the road, like the itinerant Oakies from the Dust-Bowl in search of greener pastures. When does it end?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some Days

The mountains here stand in stark relief to the blue, blue sky…other days, they are tainted with the haze of dust and probably smog. Treeless, they still maintain their majesty looming above everything we do on our lot because in their ruggedness they maintain their mystery. In the evenings just before sunset I sit and watch as they turn breathtakingly beautiful and rosy in the day’s last hue, accentuating every nook and cliff face. From their direction then come the bats—probably hundreds of them, although those that flap, fly, and dive over our lot number about 20-30 every evening. They provide comic relief to watch, seemingly such uncoordinated flyers yet sustaining such an important ecological niche. They make me smile; they have me know I am back in the desert.

Occasionally, tugging at my heartstrings is the desire to see trees; specifically those big old fir trees that tower thickly over the Pacific Northwest and create their own atmosphere—verdant, lush, and tangy with a crisp forest smell. I can picture the mist clinging and swirling on the coast winds. Coast withdrawal has set in with a vengeance now that the desert is…well…getting very hot. I was reminded of all this today with my daughter attending a high school friend's wedding in Coos Bay and telling me it was nice and about 60 degrees. Here: 101.

I find in the human mind that it is very difficult to imagine in real time where we are not. In other words, as we go about our day it is very difficult to also imagine ourselves in a different space than what we occupy at the moment, other than remembering our memories of when we were there. When I think of where I often walked the quay in Charleston, and think RIGHT NOW, I wonder: how are the waves; is there someone there running their dog (as I water my plants here in the desert); are the pelicans diving, the gulls crying; is the bell buoy rocking and whistling enough to be heard (as I listen to doves coo); is that crabber leaning over to just about pick up his pot; is the spotted harbor seal cruising like a submarine? Is the sun shining like it is here in Yuma?

Somehow, I can still smell the sea air when I remember and imagine. Yes, I miss it terribly. That’s why, despite redecorating our little abode here in the heat of the Yuma desert, I still hang a favorite plaque that my best friend gave me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cool, Cool Water: Ok, So It's Not the Coast

I have found that most folks don’t have very good knowledge of the lower Colorado River. I do know that southern California considers it nirvana’s paradise and flock here on warm weekends throughout the year for water recreation. So you can understand my mystification upon asking several people about boating the Colorado River from Yuma and basically what I got was “Oh the river is nice, but I don’t know where you go to launch.” Stop!

Today we decided to drive out a short 24 miles north of our place and check it out for ourselves. We rode the Wing one year out to Lake Martinez but didn’t really understand at that time how it played into the Colorado system. Long time readers may recall that Marc and I rode out with friends on the bikes and had lunch; that area is fairly commercialized with a couple of low-key resorts with restaurants, RV parks, and a small marina. It looked tranquil with pleasant blue skies. I had wondered then if it was landlocked somehow.

I was driving and took the highway which starts on government property at the Yuma Proving Grounds as Marc said “No, Lake Martinez is farther north”. “Well” I replied, “I think Melanie said they launch at somewhere called Senator Wash off this road.” So down the bumpy road we went following the BLM signs to the long term snowbird parking areas to Senator Wash Lake. We had crossed the Great American canal which drops directly out of Imperial Dam some miles back and suddenly upon cresting a slight hill had blue water in sight!

A true oasis in this desert, the water glistened purely of clear blue as jet skiers and boats crisscrossed below us. Where was that muddy Colorado of downtown Yuma? Not here, thank God! Farther down the small road we stopped to talk with the camp host situated below the obvious dirt dam face at what appeared to be yet another lake. We soon found out the upper lake, Senator Wash, is pumped there out of the Colorado (and the lower lake called Squaw Lake) to be used as additional needed water storage in late summer or when irrigation needs manifested themselves. It is truly one of the few self-contained lakes in this region and used, sometimes heavily, for recreation. However, on the distant shore it was noted that there were many empty sand beaches, appearing as though one needed to get there by boat only. That’s what we’re seeking!

The camp host was most gracious in lining us out with the information he possessed (he is new on the job) and giving us a couple of boating pamphlets. Day use in this entire area is $10/day or for $75 annually you can have unlimited access. Well, that’s a no-brainer! That would include using any of the available boat launches under the auspices of the BLM in this recreation area. Once launched from here, with our sticker which will give unlimited parking for our tow vehicle in his watched parking lot, we can navigate up-river for 76 miles to Blythe, CA. From there, we can also go north but we currently lack the information on that section of the river. Once one hits the Parker Dam, above which sits Lake Havasu, there is yet another 88 miles to Davis Dam which sits just north of Needles, CA, also totally navigable. So there are several segments of the Colorado to enjoy recreationally in this southern Arizona area. Obviously, the one we will be concentrating on initially is the segment from Imperial Dam north to Blythe. Boat camping here we come!

Marc flies out late Wednesday to Bend to pick up the Dodge and boat so watch for future posts involving more of this fascinating river; with pictures of course. Sometimes the most amazing things are in our own backyards! We expect to get on the water right after the first of next month.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Dear Husband!

In celebration of Marc’s unmentionable age, the neighbor’s threw an impromptu party for him Friday evening. As our hot work day (RO system trenching totally completed) cooled into a wonderfully pleasant evening, we gathered, visited, laughed a lot; watched Ron work his grilled burger magic and downed our fair share of his perfect margaritas. One couple, Tom and Melanie, have a party pontoon boat which they enjoy taking out on the Colorado River so we made future plans to all get together for another party once Marc gets our boat here from Bend, which is his next load. It’ll be a raft-up of good times!! (raft-up: in boaters terms, the occasion of two or more boats rafted together for purposes of all those aboard being able to intermingle out on the water!). Thanks for the party Ron and Jan!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Same Ol' Projects

Time seems to fly by around here; filled with nothing but work. Marc continues to trench in the dastardly RO system water line as I’ve danced around the open hole putting our new color on the small shed and the larger shed. Marc painted the container although all three structures need the brush touch-up to complete where the roller wouldn’t fit.

That has taken a back seat to the fabrication of a temporary stand to hold our new window a/c unit which fits in the bedroom—the only window large enough to accommodate it. Of course, this also requires a new plug since it is 220, so Marc hopes to have that completed by tomorrow so we can finally move in. Things have been all settled in it for weeks; we have just been staying in the RV since it has air. In among these tasks Marc has helped out a friend’s son at his new restaurant building some stuff and also been applying and interviewing for jobs. No news on that front as yet and nothing for me either, so I continue to be slave labor here in the sun, digging in the trenching for the irrigation of our new oleanders.

On a different tangent, one of my favorite things about the area is photographing really creative ideas others have come up with for their lots. We know once we have the boat here, which will park alongside the park model, that we’d like to build a gate to close off that area and improve the appearance from the street. We like the idea of Marc building something out of steel and wood with a design incorporated much as this owner has done with two swinging doors.

Another idea we came across and liked is this very rustic iron and wood gate—in addition to the man gate leading to their courtyard they also have a larger similar one leading to their side yard. It turned out as we just met these fine folks that own this beautiful home, that they are fellow Escapees, Jim and Susan, and they were delighted to have us take a close-up look. Thanks for the ideas! Mind if we borrow them?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Conquering Hero

Well, maybe not quite although Marc has certainly been doing more than his fair share of tasks around here lately. At sundown the other day he climbed up on the park model roof and spread on the “goop”, white, thick, plastic-type paint meant to reduce heat gain. It stands to reason rather than the dark asphalt shingles absorbing all Yuma’s sun, to have something light that reflects the rays instead. The gable-ended portion of roof which covers only our front porch and the only portion of roof visible will remain original because hey—this stuff is ugly!

For some reason during development of our section, the powers that be decided that our lot needed some fill, so on went layer upon layer of (mostly) rocks and sand. One would think in the desert a person could expect sand and indeed, we do have sand after our two foot deep layer of rock. Digging the trenching for the RO system water line was hard work for Marc in the broiling sun. Any time we dig a hole for anything; this is what we put up with: wheelbarrow loads of rock.

Time for a break with our wonderful neighbors Ron and Jan and some barbecued T bones served al fresco! And yes, we’ve had a slight wee bit of fly problems lately, hence the need for personal fly swatters! Marc captures the party from the roof and some pictures of our mountainous view to tantalize me into wanting a rooftop deck even more. Our only problem is where to build one? Eventually, we may consider some type of stucco structure over the RV which could accommodate such a deck. Now wouldn’t that be great for entertaining?