Monday, February 24, 2014

Prospecting for Gold

In and around this area of Arizona, prospecting for gold was quite the rush back in the mid-1800’s, so for us to have an opportunity to see what enthusiasts of the 21st century do was something that we just couldn’t pass up.

We were pleased to make the acquaintance of a couple from Veneta, Oregon that parked about 500 feet from us here in the desert on Sidewinder Road.  Kathy and Bill (and their cat & 2 dogs) have been coming to this area for the last 3 years in search of the ultimate gold find, called “pickers”.  This we learned is a fairly good size piece, but prospectors will extract any of the gold which can sometimes consist of smaller flakes.  The process is quite interesting so we hope that you’ll enjoy a few of the pictures that we took on this Jeep trip – “in search of gold”.

 Bill’s Rhino and our Jeep parked across where Bill’s claim is.  Our Jeep hasn’t had a bath in months.  Jeff would love to wash it but it would be filthy in 20 minutes!

Bill is shoveling dirt into his “Gold Buddy” dry washer.  After processing 20-30 shovels of dirt it is shut down and opened up.  The contents are put into a gold pan to be water washed to separate the dirt, black sand and gold.

The large black tank in the Rhino is where the dirt is separated from the gold.

Jeff’s job was moving the processed dirt to keep the machine from plugging up.

A very remote canyon where the gold is prospected.

This picture is a larger view of where we were working – very desolate with little wind- and bring your own water!

Here is Bill just starting to “wash” another pan.

The 2-3 hours that Jeff spent with Bill yielded 3-4 “pickers” which wasn’t bad.  Unfortunately, this kind of gold fever can become addicting for some with many more hours spent “eating dust”.  For us it was a new adventure to share.

and on a different note . . .
And now for some pictures of our cats, Chuck (buff) and Abby (black/white) in honor or Jeff’s Mom, Dorothy who has told us that we need to have more pictures of the cats.  This one’s for you, Ma.  Enjoy!

Chuck & Abby - sleeping, of course!

Kitty Condo that Jeff built for our kids!

Chuck resting on all 3 cushions - ahhhhhhh!

Jeff and his buddy, Chuck.
Abby, tolerating Chuck getting there first!
Can't forget to mention our Bear!!
Travel Update:  After 3 weeks in the desert on Sidewinder Road, Winterhaven, California we are hitting the “open road” for a new adventure.  Destination:  Ajo, Arizona (population 3,000).  A former copper mining town, and 33 miles south of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  We’re told that this is beautiful desert country, some of the most attractive anywhere.  How can we pass that up?

Hugs to all ~
Kay & Jeff
Our last sunset on Sidewinder Road

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Yuma Proving Ground

From Patton to the present . . .

Military testing at the Yuma Proving Ground dates back to 1943 when the army established the Yuma Test Branch along the Colorado River at Imperial Dam.  Because engineers could control water flows, it was the ideal location to try out portable bridges.  About the same time, Camp Laguna was established in an area around California/Arizona by Gen. George S Patton to train more than a million soldiers for combat.

After the war, Camp Laguna was deactivated, but the Yuma Test Branch remained in limited operation until 1950.  Renamed Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in 1963, this multi-purpose facility has helped to develop numerous combat vehicles, aircraft and weapons systems.  One of the largest military installations in the world, YPG is home to the Military Freefall School and GM’s hot-weather test track.  And just this month, a wind tunnel was added - what a rush!

The following pictures represent some of the “Big Guns” that were used. 

Truck Mounted Rocket Launcher, 762mm

Little John Rocket - Army's smallest nuclear capable rocket

Tank Recovery Vehicle - Korean War Vintage

Heavy Artillery Shell, 16" - 1900 lbs.

Guess who's going to Stop or Yield for this Big Guy?

Personnel Carrier - Vietnam & Saudi Arabia

'74 Tank Recovery Vehicle, Korean War Vintage
Personnel Carrier, Korean War Era

"Duster" Anti-Aircraft Twin 40mm Guns

Above was mobile, armored ground support vehicle.  Built on modified tank chassis.
Used in Vietnam & Saudi Arabia

Medium Tank M47 90mm Tank Run - tested in 50's at Yuma
Sheridan M551 Armored Recon & Airborne Assault Vehicle

Above was 152mm gun launcher & also fired Shillegh Surface guided missle.
8" Towed Howitzer pre-WWII - came to YPG in 60's

Vicious looking Cobra!

M103 Combat Tank 120mm Gun 120,000 lbs. - can maneuver easily when needed

Cobra - Vietnam Era

Additional information on the Yuma Proving Ground is available by clicking on this link to get you to their website:
 Yuma Proving Ground 

There are 22,000 men and women stationed here, and with annual winter training of Marines from other units around the country the base population doubles.  Total Yuma population is 94,000. 

The hot fighter – or “Top Gun” as it’s referred to – is currently the F35B Lightning 12.  The pilot wears a helmet mounted display system that tells him about the environment around him – situational awareness – he “sees” through the floor if he wants to check the enemy threat beneath his bird.  The aircraft is loaded with sensors. 
Attack from the rear by enemy fighters?  The F35 pilot doesn’t have to turn hard into the threat – he can launch air-to-air missiles forward and they will turn back and seek out the threat.

This portion of Arizona’s Sonora Desert continues to host a variety of military activities to train and equip the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines of our country in order for them to be the best in the world – and to protect our country and our freedoms.  That is quite an undertaking!  Please make sure to thank those men and women whenever you can.
Just one more beautiful sunset - this one as we were leaving the grounds at the Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

Hugs to all ~
Kay & Jeff

Travel Update:  All dental work was successfully completed for Kay, and she is a happy camper now. Our “home” site on BLM land at Ogilby Road for the month of January has changed.  We have a new home right now - about 3 miles SE of where we were - at Sidewinder Road (still in Winterhaven CA).
  We want to enjoy some 80s weather that is suppose to be here this week.  After that we will begin a new adventure to Ajo, Arizona.  Ajo elevation is approx. 1700 ft. (we are at around 300 here right now).  Ajo is known as one of the most unique camping spots in this area because of its desert landscape - close to Organ Pipe National Monument.  We will most definitely take you there on a future Blog update, so stay tuned - pictures and all! 

And, on another note . . . Congratulations to our good friends back in Minnesota - Verena & Steve LeMay - who had something pretty special to celebrate over the holidays. . .their marriage!  Our best to both of you on your new life together!