The close of Day 2
I was happy to get back on the open road after experiencing the Grand Canyon. Time was still looking pretty good too as again the biggest challenge was observing as much as possible before darkness fell. The next stop was for most a peculiar destination; Lake Havasu City, AZ.
My story is that once upon a time after combing through an atlas as a kid I found quite an anomaly; a site called London Bridge in the middle of the SW desert. I investigated and low it behold it was exactly what it was called, one of THE London Bridge’s that once crossed the river Thames from 1831 till the late 1960’s when it was sold to an American to develop a desert town into a tourist destination. I guess it worked. The area around the bridge now is now a casino/resort area with lots of nightlife. So this London Bridge never fell down. It was demolished piece by piece and shipped through the Panama Canal and reconstructed in the Arizona desert.
As I stopped for gas and food in Kingman, AZ and while in line I was telling a guy I wanted to get to Lake Havasu before dark. I said “how far is it, about an hour”? He said “yes, but it’ll be dark in 45 minutes”. Damnit! The gas and Jack-In-A-Box that I stopped at by the way was the only time I know of I was on AZ 66, or the former Route 66.
Oh well, I carried on and arrived in Lake Havasu City shortly after dark. I was really tired by the time I arrived at the hotel. Really, I wanted/needed to sleep, but I asked the guy at the desk for directions to the bridge and off on the adventure I went.
Honestly, once again, the destination was a little underwhelming, but I didn’t drive all these miles just say oh, a bridge, and go to sleep. I admired it for what it was worth, crossed it above, and crossed it below. Even though there was a lot of cool places near the bridge including a brewery to check out I had one more thing on my list, the sky.
I didn’t plan this portion of my trip well, and I really didn’t know where to go. I figured I’m kinda in the middle of the desert, this should be easy right? Well, I wasn’t in the mood to put in much of an effort at this point so I just drove out of town. About 5 miles out I found a viewpoint along the road so I pulled of there. I realized that my eyes would need to fully adjust to get the full spectrum of the dark sky. Unfortunately being close to the highway cars would pass just frequent enough to interrupt the darkness. I didn’t get the view I was expecting, but it was significant enough. For example when looking at the Big Dipper, you just didn’t see the stars that defines it, but it was inside a smattering of lesser stars. So it was pretty cool. After some more cars passed I figured I could do better so I drove further down the highway and found a state park. I figured it would be closed so no cars would be nearby. Well, it was apparently open for camping so I parked close to a visitor’s center that had the security light tripped when I parked the car. Dashed again. I admired the sky for a bit at the vantage point, and finally decided it was time to retire.
By time I got back to the hotel I had missed the pool and jacuzzi hours. This indeed wasn’t a vacation at all at this point. Bed was my only respite outside the embrace of the passing mountains. Daylight would once again come soon, and I had to do my best to meet it. Besides, my longest driving day was tomorrow, and I had no idea what was in store around the bend.
California was so close, but so far away.