Fall 2022 Episode 6: Lake Havasu Part 2

Our two-week stay was too busy to pack into one post, so here is the rest of the story about our time in Lake Havasu City in October 2022.

We’re suckers for a parade, especially small-town parades like the London Bridge Days Parade. So we packed up our lawn chairs and headed to McCulloch Blvd. to celebrate the 51st Anniversary of the London Bridge. The parade theme was Life is Better at the Lake.

Hey, Mickey. Over here.
Side-by-side owners showed off their off-road buggies
A show of force by the Lake Havasu City SWAT team
US Border Patrol’s Horse Unit
Parker Marching Broncs

Later in the day, it was on to the London Bridge Marina to watch the costumed paddle boarders and kayakers navigate the Bridgewater Channel from Rotary Park to the bridge. It would have been fun to join the Annual Witches Paddle, but my wrist hadn’t quite healed enough.

Here they come paddling up the channel
Moms, dads, kids, and even dogs joined the event
Big turn out for the Annual Witch’s Paddle

It seemed like the whole town comes out for Lake Havasu Fright Night on October 31. We joined my sister Merri, her daughter Tracy, and her daughter Bobbi. I liked the idea of concentrating the trick-or-treating in one location. Given that many of the homes are built in hilly areas, and some are second homes and unoccupied full-time, gathering downtown worked out well for the kids and parents alike.

Outta my way. I’m here for the treats
Bobbi (dressed as Wednesday) and friend checking out the dragon
Hey, Garfield
Don’t look up
Bobbi tries the ring toss and gets a five
I’ll take one from this bucket, and another handful from that bucket
Isn’t that the red-headed witch paddler we saw a few days ago?
Turn around, Tracy and look at the sunset.

Parker Dam at Take Off Point

After a busy few days, my sister Merri needed time to herself to take care of chores, so Jon and I went for a drive along the California side of the river. We can’t drive that route when we’re pulling the fifth wheel because trailers are banned from crossing over Parker Dam.

Before crossing the river, we stopped at Take Off Point, where there is a boat ramp, fishing piers, shade structure, picnic table, and if the fish are biting, there is a fire pit to cook lunch or dinner. Parker Dam is close enough to capture a few photos of the lakeside of the dam.

View of the lake side of the dam
Darn, Jon left his fishing gear in the truck

We were lucky this great blue heron was unafraid of people. He or she posed for us from its perch on the rocks.

Great blue heron posed for our photos

BLM Rock House Visitor Center

Next, we crossed the bridge and stopped to take photos of the river side of the dam before heading south on Parker Dam Road. Boy, how things had changed. The Bureau of Reclamation used to give tours of the dam. Not anymore.

About eight miles south of the dam, we pulled into the BLM Rock House Visitor Center. Neither of us remembered a visitor center along the river. Signs appeared at the entrance of all the resorts along the river, noting that the RV resort or campground operates in cooperation with BLM.

Rock House Visitor Center

There wasn’t much to the center other than a few displays inside and a clean restroom. The facility host said it had recently reopened after having been closed for a few years. The landscaping looked okay out front, but in the back and on the side, the plants and hardscape were definitely in need of attention.

Rock House Visitor Center
Boat launch at Rock House Visitor Center
View of the Arizona side of the river

Oatman

My sister Merri hadn’t been to Oatman ghost town for a while, so we took the drive out there. This is a Route 66 attraction for those interested in traveling the historic route. It was a gloomy day and a bit windy and cold too. The burros were a no-show in town. It wasn’t until we left we saw them moseying toward town. We wandered around, stopped in a few shops, and raided the candy store.

Merri walks past Jenny and Jacks Artifacts
A tinkling sound of wind chimes came from Fast Fanny’s porch
The Oatman Hotel established in 1902.
A few facts about the Oatman Hotel
“Look, Jon. A candy store. Maybe they have the penuche fudge you’ve been looking for.”
Nope. It’s too short. Do you have a longer one?
Step right in for a whiff of leather

More sunsets

As the sun slips below the horizon, painting another awesome sky, we close out this post and say goodbye to Lake Havasu.

And to all a goodnight

And that’s a wrap of our Lake Havasu visit. What’s up next? Let’s see. We’ve been to the mountains, then to the desert. How about the sea? Join us next time for another stay at Pismo Beach.

Safe Travels

Fall 2022 Episode 5: To the Desert and Lake Havasu City

From Joshua Tree National Park, we traveled east to Lake Havasu on Twenty-nine Palms (SR 62) road on October 21. A short distance from the railroad crossing in Rice, something up ahead caught our attention. Folks on the internet call it the Gas Island Shoe Tree.

Gas Island Shoe Tree

Someone expanded the idea and created a Mask Bush (my words). Close by stood the ruins of a concrete and stone building adorned by spray-can artists. There was an old school at this spot when my family drove this way to and from the Colorado River during the 1960s and early 1970s. I’m not sure if it is the same building.

Mask Bush
Spray-can artists were here

After our brief respite, we continued on up the Arizona side of the Colorado River to Lake Havasu City and soon arrived at Havasu Hills, pleased we had found reservations to accommodate us since no other RV park had vacancies.

Havasu Hills Resort RV Resort

Lucky for us the 2022-23 season opener at Havasu 95 Speedway gave us something to do for a night out. Unfortunately, our friend Chris Blackwell had a bit of trouble with his #99 car and had to give up in the middle of the race. We still had a good time visiting with him and his family and watching the go-carts, flat karts, and factory stock cars race around the track. I liked the Bandoleros the best. The speedway operates races once or twice a month, from October through April each year.

Havasu 95 Speedway

It’s hard to pass up live music at the Bunker Bar while in Lake Havasu City. What could be better than rocking out,out,out,out, drinking a can of beer, and eating a hamburger or hot dog while watching a couple show off their dance moves in front of the bandstand? Checking out the collection of military equipment and dinosaurs installed since our last visit was a bonus.

Busy day at the Bunker Bar
Can you hear the Jurassic Park music?
Drone on display
Cock-a-doodle-do, you all

We had a new restaurant to try during this visit. Next to Havasu Hills is Iron Wolf Golf and Country Club, where we ate at Bogeys and Stogies Sports Lounge and Grill. The golf course was, and still is as of the posting date, under renovation, but the restaurant had recently reopened. The typical sports bar with plenty of TVs hanging from the walls served up crispy-on-the-outside and flaky-on-the-inside fish and chips, paired with a delicious salad.

Bogey’s and Stogies Sports Lounge and Grill
Sunset from our table

We hadn’t been on the lake in several years, so we reserved three seats on the Sunset Copper Canyon Cruise. The 90-minute narrated tour set out from Lake Havasu Marina, passing by one of the 28 lighthouse replicas installed along the 400 miles of shoreline. Formed in 2000, the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club builds and maintains the replica lighthouses. Each of the lighthouses is a scaled-down replica of a famous one gracing the shores of the East Coast, West Coast, and the Great Lakes. They all serve as working navigation aids.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse, original is at Corolla, NC, installed October 31, 2004

While the boat headed south, our tour guide regaled us with tales of Robert McCulloch, the founding father of Lake Havasu City, and the historical and military uses of the land prior to his arrival. I remembered as a child listening to my parents and grandparents talk about McCulloch. They laughed at the crazy man who bought the London Bridge and rebuilt it in the middle of a desert.

Partial view of the city from the boat

A lake perspective of the city showed us how much growth had occurred over the years and yet there remains stretches of untouched desert hills, much of which is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. I’ve watched the London Bridge Village during its bustling periods and in the lean years. By the looks of things during this visit, the businesses and restaurants have survived the pandemic and are thriving. With a population that has grown from 4,111 during the 1970 census to 57,144 in 2020, and adding in the approximately 835,000 visitors during a year, I guess Mr. McCulloch wasn’t so crazy after all.

Sunset red hills of Lake Havasu

As the sun began its descent behind hills, we entered Copper Canyon. Shadows revealed the gray and green and red tones of the canyon walls, which fade away under harsh sunlight, as if an artist had come along and splashed the walls with a touch of paint. It’s no wonder why this canyon is one of the most scenic on Lake Havasu.

Colorful Copper Canyon
Volcanic uplifting
Natural arch window
Mine tailings are a reminder of mining activity in years past
Permaquid Point, original in Permaquid Point. ME, installed on February 11, 2017
Three oldsters taking a ride in a boat
Final sunset photo of the tour

The sunset photo is a good place to say adieu for now. More on our Lake Havasu visit to come.

Safe Travels

Fall 2022 Episode 4: To the Desert and Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree was the next destination on our list. On October 18, 2022, we arrived at JT RV and Campground. The dirt and gravel lot comprised back-to-back full hookup sites running down the middle of the lot with shade trees. Electric and water sites lined the perimeter for tents and RVs not needing the sewer.

Joshua Tree Saloon

After setting up, it was time for a bite to eat. Joshua Tree Saloon served ribs, a variety of fried seafood, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos, and quesadillas. They also had a long list of wines and beers, on tap or in a bottle.

Such a happy face after a long drive.

The hidden entrance is around the back, through the patio area. The outside bartender showed us the way. Multiple TVs keep patrons entertained while waiting for their meals, and the corrugated steel panels and antiques contributed to the rustic appeal.

Acoustic live music in the patio bar area
Eclectic decor
A bar just isn’t a bar without TVs

Joshua Tree National Park

We didn’t plan our visit to Joshua Tree National Park on the same day we last visited the park five years earlier. It was just one of those flukes. Our blog post dated January 11, 2018, talks about our visit on October 19, 2017. It wasn’t until I was drafting this post that I realized the date matched.

Watch out for the cholla. They’ll latch onto the cuff of your pants and hang on for dear life.

We concentrated this visit on the west side of the park where the Joshua trees are more concentrated and where a few road pullouts include information panels that describe the terrain, plants, and history.

Contemplation

The arrangement of plants in the photo below looks like a professional landscaper had a hand in their placement. The rocks strategically piled in front of a juniper and flanked by yuccas have a balance to them.

Professionally arranged?

Joshua Tree National Park gained monument status in 1936 and national park status in 1994. What is unique about this park are the two deserts that meet within the park boundaries—the Mojave Desert on the west side and the Colorado Desert on the east side. The over 800,000 acres of both high desert and low desert environments allow a diversity of plants and animals to thrive.

At one stop there was no trail, so we picked our way around boulders, juniper and creosote bushes, and avoided the beaver tail and cholla cactus, stopping every few feet to take pictures behind us so we could find our way back to the truck. Then we followed other trails nearby and here is what we saw.

Not sure what this is called, but it was a pretty color
Love these little hedgehogs
Dinosaur teeth? No, that’s how the rocks formed under ground and after erosion.
Behind piles of rock, we found this valley
Joshua tree specimens
Seed pods once were beautiful pale-yellow blooms
Joshua trees come in all shapes and sizes
Beavertail cactus
Yellow wildflower
Juniper in rock
Don’t shoot. I’m only armed with spikes.
Time for a rest
Even dead trees can stand tall and majestic
I wonder what this Foo dog is guarding?
Climbers have several choices for scaling the jumbo rocks
I see a huddling raptor. What do you see?

Barker Dam Loop trail led us to Barker Dam and Lake. The lower portion of the dam was built by the Barker and Shay Cattle company, creating a lake from rainfall for watering their cattle. In 1949-50, the Keys family added the upper concrete layer. Although we saw a few puddles when we visited in October, apparently winter and spring are the best chance to see the lake full. Average rainfall currently is around 2–5 inches compared to 10 inches in the early 1900s.

Winter and spring are the best time to see water in Barker Lake
Barker Dam
Soaking up the view.
JT next to a creosote bush
Close up of creosote bush with fuzzy seed balls

From the Barker Dam trail, we took a spur that led to petroglyphs. Unfortunately, someone had the bright idea of outlining the drawings with paint. The paint makes them easier to see, but ruins the original art. What a shame.

Vandalized petroglyphs

Coming up next, we drive through the transition zone between the Colorado and Sonoran deserts to the south and the Mojave desert to the north. Our destination: Lake Havasu to see family and friends.

Safe Travels