Friday, November 5, 2010

2010-36 Cottonwood to Lake Havasu Arizona

Leaving Cottonwood
Verde Valley Rail Road
Lake Havasu, AZ

Campground:  Winsor/Lake Havasu State Park, Lake Havasu, AZ.  $18, no hook-ups.  Great for fall/winter and early spring camping.  I’m within walking distance of the small beach and picnic area.  Main restroom also has good shower facilities.

Campground:  Buckskin Mountain State Park, Lake Havasu area.  $25, for electric/water hookups.  Many great shaded sites, but some in full sun.  Request a shaded site if you can as even in the fall it can be in the 90’s.  They have a restaurant and gift shop, but it wasn’t open in Nov while I was here.  The river wraps around the park and many kayakers enjoy paddling the calm waters.

Campground:  Cattail Cove State Park, Lake Havasu area.  $25, for electric/water hookups.

Note:  Lake Havasu is in an “Extended Network” area for Verizon.  This is the second location within AZ that I’ve found to have an extended network.  What that means is that although I can make and receive phone calls and receive e-mail messages on my Droid phone, I cannot get onto the internet.  So it’s back to wi-fi sites while in the area. My smart phone has temporarily become a dumb brick.

I was all set to leave Cottonwood when Bill Warner was able to get me a 1st class ticket on board the Verde Valley Train on of all days, Halloween.  Bill, known as Pumpkin Head for the day, greeted us and even got us pre-boarded on the train.  How cool to be able to be sitting in 1st class, looking out the window  as the “commoners” waited in line to get on board.

After a champagne toast, the train headed on down the steel rails through the Verde Valley.   The wheels squealing as the train went around curves in the track. As the powerful diesel engine quietly propelled us forward at about 10 miles a hour.   A lunch buffet was served and we enjoyed a good meal as the spectacular views rolled on by.  I spent most of the day out on the open deck cars, a perfect 70 degree sunny day with the occasional  thin layer of clouds sliding by.
The Verde Train

Thanks Bill for making my last day in the Cottonwood area so much fun.  I’ll miss all the folks at Dead Horse Ranch State Park and friends in the area. But….

Monday morning rolled around and I was ready to once again get back on the open road.  It would be more than a 5 hour journey to Lake Havasu and I was able to get out on the road by 7:30.  A bit early for me, but I was so eager to get on the road, that all I had left to do in the morning was close the slides, unhook the power and water and I was off.

I arrived at my first destination, Lake Havasu State Park, right in the town of Lake Havasu City home of the famous London Bridge.  I’ll be staying here for a few days, then checking out two other state parks in the area throughout the week.  One of the perks of work camping is that AZ state parks will comp their camp hosts a stay at other parks for a few days.  Winsor is right on Lake Havasu of course and I was able to get a primo site overlooking the water and the desert hills of California on the other side of the lake.

As the sun set early this evening, around 5:30 (who knows, I may be in another time-zone by now), I was able to enjoy a perfect desert sunset.  With the mountain range on the California side turning a dark black silhouette and the horizon turning a deep orange color blending into an ever darkening deep blue sky above.  Such rich colors.  So pure and deep.

I’ll enjoy a wonderful breeze through open windows this evening, as small rabbits hop around my camper in the twilight, munching on twigs and scrub.

London Bridge history lesson.  Robert McCulloch purchased the 13,000 acres for Lake Havasu for just under one million dollars back in 1963 at auction and was the only bidder.  The land was originally part of the 71% of the land owned by the Federal Gov in Arizona.  The Feds permitted the State to acquire some land for free and they could then lease it or sell it.  Hence, McCulloch was able to purchase this valuable land along the Colorado river.  As part of the development, he decided to purchase the London bridge which was up for sale in the late 60’s.  Yes the original 1825 London Bridge that we all sang songs about in our youth.  This bridge has seen of lot of history pass over it throughout the centuries including many beheadings that took place and the heads impaled on spikes along the bridge.  The bridge was purchased for $2.4 million twice what he paid for the 13,000 acres of land.  A channel was built to separate the peninsula jutting out into Lake Havasu, the bridge was rebuilt stone by stone and then rededicated in 1971. It is the second biggest visitor attraction  in Arizona behind the Grand Canyon of course.  It’s in remarkably good shape for a 300 year old bridge.  Now why can’t our bridges last that long?

While staying at Lake Havasu State park, my views of the lake have been wonderful.  The one annoying thing has been the constant noise from the boats.  The cigar boats, with their huge engines and often completely out of tune, sit idling on the lake with great roars and  thunderous guttural belching until finally taking a spurt of energy and racing across the lake, always seeming to be out of site behind the foliage along the lake shore. The casino boat crosses the lake every half hour, with a deep syncopated humming that seems to go right through me.  And of course the numerous party boats or pontoon boats cruising along to get to the other side of the lake or up the Colorado river their sounds becoming more distant the further they travel, all before turning around and making themselves heard once again on their way back.

Topock Gorge Tour:  While in Lake Havasu, I went on a 50 mile roundtrip tour up the Colorado River.  Sandy and Erich (Desert Trails Friends) joined me.  We left from our mooring at the London Bridge and headed north, through rugged barren terrain, except for the grasses and the occasional shrub and palm tree along the shore line.  The tour guide gave a monotone description of the landscape and stories about various boating enterprises along the river.  All terribly boring.  Thank goodness the scenery was worth the ride.  Love the image of the “Star Gazer” and although I only saw one petroglyphs, Sandy got a couple really great shots of the rest of them.

And lest I forget, Sandy and Erich recommended the Javelina Cantina.  Wed. is all you can eat taco's for $1 each.  Chicken, beef or bean.  I had mine on hard shells and they were home made and delicious.  Margareta's on special as well.  Good food, great prices on Wed. The locasl know about it and they don't advertise the specials... you have to know about it.

Thursday I headed down the road to Buckskin Mountain State Park for two days.  This is a very popular park.  I was given a great shaded site and with a bit of difficulty I finally backed into the site.  Odd how sometimes, it’s a piece of cake to back in and other times you’d think I was drunk on peyote buttons or something.  What’s nice is it’s a very quiet park and no loud motor boats passing by.

I have one more state park to hit, Cattail State Park, before heading south to Parker and Quartzsite, the winter home of thousands of snowbirds.

1 comment:

Levonne said...

Hi Doug,
I really enjoyed looking at your pictures! I'm an avid photographer and while campground hosting in four central coast California locations over the previous year, I've taken a ton. I see you've campground hosted too. You're on quite the adventure!