Monday, February 17, 2014

Bard museum boasts impressive antique car collection

Old cars on display
If your interests lie in antiques – anything from vehicles to kitchen equipment, the Cloud Museum is the place to go. It’s a private museum just off Interstate 8 near Yuma, Arizona. The museum is located in Bard, California, a hamlet to small you’ll miss it if you blink. The drive from the freeway, which takes you over roads that could be smoother, is filled with views of lettuce and cabbage fields, and date palms.

Owner Johnny Cloud has filled two acres with a wide assortment of antiques, beginning with 130 cars that he said drove in under their own power and could be driven out if they contained batteries and gasoline. The vehicles include cars from the early 1900s, most of which are rusted down to the metal. These sit out in the open. A few cars have been restored and are kept in a building toward the rear.

Besides old cars, the Cloud collection includes vintage farm implements, a few old fire trucks and an early motor home.

Display of old kitchen utensils
Cloud says he began his collection 24 years ago when he sold his farm and found himself with nothing to do. He is still collecting today, and says he really has no idea of how extensive his collection is.

But it includes more than just vehicles. There’s an old post office complete with wanted posters for John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Bonnie and Clyde. He has plenty of old kitchen utensils, include corn bread pans, and an extensive collection of cast iron skillets hang on one wall.

Cloud roams the grounds in a golf cart, stopping frequently to talk with visitors and answer questions.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Yuma Quartermaster Depot

Officer's quarters
The Quartermaster Depot in Yuma is another facility that offers a glimpse at this Arizona city's historic past.

Now a state historic park, at one time it houses all the supplies for U.S. Army posts in Arizona Territory as well as for some posts in other Western states, including Utah, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico. Goods were brought in by boat and mule train (at one time the depot was home to 900 mules) and then dispersed to the various Army posts.
When rail lines reached Yuma in 1877, there was no longer any need for hauling goods this way, and the depot closed in 1883, though it still housed an Amy signal corps until 1891. It continued use after that as a weather bureau station, and later was used by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Old vehicles on display
Some of the original buildings still exist., including officers' quarters with fireplaces AND dirt floors. The Bureau of Reclamation devotes one building to the “Days of the Colorado” that has banners featuring each dam on the river as well as some antique vehicles.

The Quartermaster Depot is home to what is billed as Yuma's top farmers' market on Sundays. This is the main reason we went there, and it was extremely disappointing. There were more craftsmen and processed foods vendors than farmers selling fresh produce. Only about four of the dozen vendors had produce to sell, and only one of these offered vegetables that looked fresh enough to eat.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A day trip to Algodones, Mexico

Entering Mexico
Algodones, Mexico, is a border town about eight miles from Yuma, Arizona, though it shares the border with California. It is very popular with Americans who go there for low-cost dental work and eye glasses.

I, quite frankly, have never seen as many dental offices in a two-block area before; I’m told the health district covers a four-block area. Americans stream into Algodones by the thousands every day, or so it seems. If you go, go early in the morning where you can get a parking spot. We got there about 8:30 a.m., and were able to find a spot in the row nearest the border crossing. When we left several hours later, the parking lot was jammed.  The Quechan tribe has the parking nearest the crossing, but it charges $7 to park there. Free parking is available beyond this, but, given how large the tribal lot is, I shudder to think how far you’d have to walk. Someone could probably make a mint providing shuttle service.

Re-entering the United States
I was surprised at how easy it was to enter Mexico on foot. We just walked through a gate to a small, pleasant courtyard with sparkling clean restrooms. I was a little disappointed because I’d wanted a Mexican stamp in my passport. Contrast this with leaving Mexico to re-enter the United States. A customs/border patrol official and his fierce-looking German shepherd checking for drugs, greeted us about mid-way through the line – we had to stand in one for about half an hour. Then it’s on to customs and immigration where they scan your passport and question you about purchases. Finally, you get to walk through long this chain-line corridor. Welcome to the United States!
Unfortunately, because I'm having difficulty walking, we never got more than a couple of blocks away, so I don't know what else Algodones has to offer. We did have a snack on one restaurant, and I was surprised at how bland the salsa was.