YUMA, AZ (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) -- Crossing into California, Yuma is the end of the road for Interstate 8 in Arizona.

Yuma - I-8

"Yuma is still that intersection that leads them in one state and out another," Yuma historian Art Everett said.

When you think of Yuma, its desert dunes might be the first thing to come to mind. Or perhaps the territorial prison. Or maybe its rich farming community.

[RELATED: Explore the history and hauntings of the Yuma Territorial Prison]

"It's in a constant stage of metamorphosis," Everett said. "It's always the chrysalis ready to become the butterfly."

[WATCH: Wine, artists spreading their wings in Yuma]

Jan Bentley's Colorado River Pottery is a perfect example. Inside Bentley's Yuma gallery, you'll find art for every day.

Yuma - Colorado River Pottery

"I tend to be, I think, influenced by the desert. It's hard not to be when you live in Yuma," Jan Bentley said. 

"I love that people come in and tell me they have a mug they bought from me, and they use it every day and they love it," Bentley said. "I tend to be, I think, influenced by the desert. It's hard not to be when you live in Yuma. And so some of the colors are based on things that I see when I drive to work every day -- the agriculture fields, the mountains."

Most of the work is done on the wheel. Using equal pressure on both sides of her hands, Bentley works her way up the clay.

"And now that I have it really round, I like to play with it a little bit and put the human touch," she explained while throwing a piece.

Once cooled and removed from the kiln, the pieces will be ready to sell and ready to add a special touch to your daily life.

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While not always a haven for artists and wine enthusiasts, Yuma's history is a rich one.

Yuma - Main Street (1935)

Everett showed us a picture of Main Street circa 1935.

"Yuma was the place to be, the place to shop," he explained. "All the people from the outlying communities would come here on a Friday, and especially Saturday, to buy their goods."

"In that same era, people were coming from California to be married in Yuma, so Yuma was the marrying capital of the Southwest," he continued.

Now, there are all kinds of new business breathing new life into Nain Street.

One of the many businesses to thrive in Yuma is Old Town Wine Cellar.

Yuma - Old Town Wine Cellar

"A lot of people are somewhat amazed that, 'Wow, a store like this in Yuma.' Yuma's not a one-dimensional kind of place."

"[We have] a lot of domestic wines, primarily from California and Oregon and Washington, but also wine from France, Italy, South America, Germany, New Zealand, Australia. Anywhere that makes good wine, we've got it," Mike Shelhamer said.

"I was a dedicated amateur for many, many years. I just really enjoyed wine. I enjoyed, obviously drinking it, but I enjoyed learning about it. People ask me, 'How'd you learn so much about wine?' I tried a lot of different wine," he continued with a laugh.

"This is the golden age of wine," Shelhamer explained. "A lot of people don't realize it, but we can drink so many different great kinds of wine from so many different places. Historically, people are pretty much limited to whatever wine was made near where they lived; that's what they drank. Now, we've got amazing options."

And you can find them in Yuma, that last stop off the freeway before you get to California.

"A lot of people are somewhat amazed that, 'Wow, a store like this in Yuma.' Yuma's not a one-dimensional kind of place," Shelhamer said. "We've got all kinds of interesting people."

There are also a few nods to Yuma's past, like a tour by steamboat.

Yuma - Steamboat tour

There is some pretty country on Ferguson Lake, which is the second largest backwater lake in the area. There are hundreds of them.

A backwater is a part of a river -- in this case the Colorado -- where there is little or no current. The water doesn't flow.

"Once we get down into Lake Martinez, we shut the engines down, and turn on some soft dinner music, have dinner, and normally have a spectacular sunset out on Lake Martinez," the steamboat captain said.

Did you ever think you could take a sunset cruise in Arizona?

"Come on down and take a look at Yuma and you'll be surprised at what you see," Everett said.

 


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