Wednesday October 31
Swarmed By Octogenerians
We had an easy drive here to Desert Hot Springs, arriving in early afternoon. It is very hot here, so we hit the pool almost immediately. We spent a couple of pleasant hours swimming and reading, until, on the dot of 3:30, we were swarmed by a group of about 20 octogenerians, who immediately put up a net and started playing volleyball in the pool. There were no notices anywhere that this event was planned, and not one of them said so much as hello to us, let alone ask if we wanted to play. They all know each other, and so there seems to be a certain sense of entitlement about the use of the pool. We concluded that we a) were not old enough and b) didn’t own a big enough RV to merit their attention, so we headed into Desert Springs, where Jeannine bought a new bathing suit. We then drove to Palm Desert to get something to eat, and returned to the campsite about 8:30. We are going to try and get on a tour of Palm Springs tomorrow.
Tuesday October 30
If Scabs The Clown Asks If You Want To See Mr. Wiggles, Just Say No
Not much to report today. We spent the morning reading at our campsite and talking with our neighbours, who gave us a tour of their motorcoach. Very nice people. We spent the afternoon at the pool, reading and sunning ourselves. The pool was cool (they’ll begin heating it early in November, when the main flock of snowbirds arrive), but I exhibited uncharacteristic bravery and went in anyway. We met Dinah Shore’s housekeepers, an older Hungarian couple, who are retired and beginning the RV life. They live in Lancaster California.
When our neighbours returned from their day trip, we invited them over for a cocktail. He came over in his Halloween-themed pyjama bottoms (which should have given us a clue), to inform us that his wife was cooking dinner, but they would be happy to join us later. He then felt it necessary to inform us that he had tried to go swimming in the river, but it was cool enough that he only went in up to his weenie (way too much information.). They did come over after dinner, and we introduced them to Green Apple Martinis, which proved highly popular, and led to some rather interesting conversation, including the fact that they belong to a Naturist Club (the PC term for nudist), and a description of a chili cook-off gathering on acreage they own in Arizona. I leave the mental images to you.
We are headed for the Desert Pools Resort in Desert Springs California for two nights. It is only 2 hours away, so it should be a leisurely day.
Monday October 29
Seen on a banner on a church in Lake Havasu City: “Welcome back, snowsheep”.
We spent a couple of hours touring the city and its neighbourhoods on small shuttle buses, which run everywhere and cost us $1.25 each, which allowed us to get transfers to get onto a different bus on a different route. We ended up in the Main Street District, “home to cozy and unique boutique shops and restaurants”. While Lake Havasu City has a beautiful setting, and is very pretty in places, we found Main Street full of bars, gun shops, tacky tourist stores, pharmacies, and vacant storefronts. It appears to be slowly dying, and certainly didn’t come close to Sedona. It just doesn’t seem to have any unique character of its own. To give you some idea of the air of desperation in the downtown core, we saw a “For Lease” sign on a building that offered free rent for a year (the building must be taken “as is”), and the rent after the first year will be 50 cents per square foot.
In mid-afternoon, we headed back to Ehrenburg. Part of the drive follows the Colorado River, and the following pictures were taken south of Lake Havasu and just north of the Parker Dam:
We have no real plans for tomorrow. The weather continues hot and sunny, and we are certainly keeping in our thoughts those of you affected by Tropical Storm Sandy.
Sunday October 28
“London Bridge Is Falling Down…”, “It’s A Small World After All…”
We made an impulsive decision to drive up to Lake Havasu City, about 1 1/2 hours north, and spend the night there. Lake Havasu City is located on, you guessed it, Lake Havasu. It was established in 1964 by Robert McCulloch, who coincidentally bought the original London Bridge for just over 2 million dollars. The City of London sold it because, since it was built in 1831, it had been gradually sinking under the weight of traffic it was never designed to handle. McCulloch had all the original exterior granite blocks painstakingly numbered and brought to Arizona, where they were re-attached to a concrete structure duplicating the original bridge:
We tried to book ourselves on a sunset cruise (cost about $38.00 each), but were unsuccessful. Someone told us about a ferry that runs across the lake to the Casino on the California side (the Arizona/California border runs down the middle of Lake Havasu). The ferry runs every hour and returns on the half-hour, and costs $2.00 each) for a return trip.
We had a lovely 15 minute trip across the flat calm lake. We stayed on the top deck, and met two other couples, one from Victoria and one from Qualicum (what are the chances?). When we landed, we went into the small casino. We lost $5.00 on a penny slot machine, then went into the restaurant for dinner. As we returned home, we reflected on the fact that we had just enjoyed a trip across the lake, lost $5.00 in the Casino, and had dinner and cocktails, for less than what just one ticket on a regular cruise boat would have cost us, and we are staying in a lovely little Travelodge for $72.00, including tax! Ralph would be so proud of us.
We plan to see more of Lake Havasu City tomorrow before returning to our campsite in Ehrenburg.
Saturday October 27
The Horny Toad Is Extinct, and a Mitch Miller Mass
We spent the morning relaxing by the river:
In late afternoon, we decided to head across the border into Blythe to find the Horny Toad Saloon, then go to Mass. The good news is that we found the Horny Toad:
The bad news is that it is closed and up for sale.
We attended a rather interesting Mass. There was a Youth Choir who did a pretty good job on the Moldy Oldies, although the drummer was a tad over-enthusiastic. The celebrant was an older Polish priest (quelle surprise), who almost raced all over the altar and rocked back and forth from one foot to the other during the songs, which was a little distracting. Although it was a not an overly-large church, everything (and I mean everything: song lyrics, readings, the Ordinary Parts of the Mass, and the Mass itself) was broadcast on a large projector screen. At the same time, it was being shown on a huge flatscreen monitor facing the altar, so it was interesting watching the priest and altar servers watching the monitor. (For those of you old enough to remember, it reminded us of Mitch Miller (“follow the bouncing ball”).The priest was certainly enthusiastic and related well to people, but for a Saturday night Mass, it was sparsely attended.
Afterwards, we had something to eat at the Casita Dos Mexican restaurant, where we toasted Lock, then returned to our campsite. Not sure yet what the plans are for tomorrow.
Friday October 26
The Colorado River (from the bottom this time)
We arrived at the Colorado River Oasis Resort in mid-afternoon, and wound up with a beautiful campsite backing onto the Colorado River, which we last saw from a mile up at the Grand Canyon. It’s a lot narrower and slower down here! We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool, then took our chairs down to the river for Happy Hour. We plan on hanging around the resort tomorrow, and I will try to post a couple of pictures next time.
Thursday October 25
Around the World In 3 Hours
We spent a fascinating day visiting Biosphere 2, “the world’s largest living science center dedicated to exploring the environment, the environment, the future, and our planet.” The picture below gives a general idea:
It was created “to better understand how natural environments create habitable conditions for human sustainability. It is a unique facility that can be used to understand the role of life on Earth and the effects of climate change. Biosphere 2 contains recreations of five of Earth’s biomes, plus a human habitat and a large ecological experiment facility.”
There are two huge “lungs”, which are neoprene membranes sealed to concrete walls, with a 1600 ton concrete disc in the middle. These actually “breathe” huge volumes of air in and out of the Biosphere buildings, and to watch one of them in operation as doors are open and closed is an amazing feeling.
We took a guided tour through most of the biomes and through subterranean tunnels containing all of the air and water-handling machinery. It was a wonderful educational experience, particularly learning the history of the complex, including the two early experiments in the early 1990’s, which involved sealing two separate teams of scientists into the biosphere for up to two years. They had to be totally self-sufficient, and maintained all of the functioins of the complex, along with doing a large number of experiments. The focus has now shifted to research. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, ad would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this kind of science.
For more details, go to: B2science.org
When we got back, we put a simple dinner together and took it down to the pond, where we fed the ducks and watched the sun go down. We are headed for Colorado River Resort, near the California border, where we plan to spend the next 5 nights.