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Back in the States — April 30 – June 9, 2018

While still in Bonaire, we bought a 40′ 2011 Allegro Bus, sight unseen (by us).  After months of searching on the web, it was the first (and last) to meet our desires.  It had less than 23000 miles, and virtually no hours on the generator.  We wanted a single-bathroom floor plan.  We wanted a propane stove, the better to support boon docking.  We wanted a propane/electric refrigerator, for the same reason.  Paradoxically, Barb also wanted a dish washer.  And a stacked washer/dryer.  Barb wanted more counter space than we had on the 32′ gasser.  We wanted a queen-sized fold-out bed/couch for guests.  I wanted Diesel power to better handle hills.  We wanted a bigger Diesel pusher than Bill’s 36-footer.  đź™‚  (Just kidding.)  We had a contact in Eugene, OR, who took an initial look and reported back positively.  On March 13, Bill (nee Dolce Vita) and Bruce flew to Eugene and took delivery at RV Corral and drove it all the way back to Parks, AZ.  How amazing are that kind of friends?  After winterizing, Bill took it to Rt. 66 RV Storage in Belllemont, AZ, to await our arrival.

We left Bonaire about a month earlier than we had planned, because 99 yr-old Mom was experiencing some health problems.  Spent a few days putting Tusen Takk II to bed at Curacao Marine, and then flew to Bismarck, ND on April 30.

After about a week, when it appeared that the crisis had passed, we flew from Bismarck to Phoenix, where Bruce and Jan Dodge put us up and let us use their car so we could search for a vehicle to tow behind the bus.  On May 10, we chose a 2013 Honda CR-V, because we were impressed with it, and because Bruce and Bill had each also recently purchased CR-Vs and had already successfully modified theirs for towing by adding a base plate and braking system.

On May 11, 2018, we arrived with our new Honda in Parks, AZ, at the home of Bill and Colleen.  Next day, we began a month-long project to get the Allegro Bus and Honda CR-V ready for extended travel.  Why did it take almost an entire month?  Because we undertook so many tasks.

We

  • Replaced the transmission oil and filter
  • Installed an Eez tire pressure monitor system (EEZ-RV-TPMS10) on the bus and auto
  • Installed a Blue Ox baseplate for Honda CR-V
  • Installed a Blue Ox BX7365 Alpha 6,500 lb tow bar
  • Installed Blue Ox lock
  • Installed an Air Force One Braking System in coach and car
  • Installed a Cobra 75WXST CB radio in the RV
  • Replaced the Fleetguard CV50628 Crankcase Ventilation Filter in the RV
  • Added two additional Interstate GC2-ECL-UTL house batteries to the existing four
  • Checked air filter to replace, but it was in good shape so we stored the replacement
  • Installed Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50 surge protector in the RV
  • Installed two Canadian 310 watt solar panels on the roof of the RV, sending wires down to the controller in the basement via the inside of the vent pipe for the grey water tank
  • Installed Victron solar controller
  • Installed battery monitor in the RV
  • Replaced all four slide toppers (Tough Toppers)
  • Replaced the seal on driver’s side front slide
  • Installed Pioneer MVH-1400 NEX radio in the RV
  • Installed SiriusXM tuner in the RV
  • Installed Garmin 770 LMT-S GPS navigation system
  • Bought a 50 amp extension cord and a ‘ 50 to 15 amp’ dog bone
  • Repaired HWH hydraulic pump (for the leveling jacks) that was leaking, first replacing three o-rings and re-installing and then removing again and replacing another set of o-rings, this time with more success
  • Drained the RV coolant and replaced five different hoses
  • Replaced the alternator belt
  • Replaced the fan drive belt
  • Replaced virtually all tungsten bulbs in the coach with LEDs.

A large cast of characters was involved in the efforts.  The “service center” was provided by Bill & Colleen, who live on a large tract of land at an altitude of 7300 feet adjacent to public forest.  They have a beautiful home, and of significant relevance to the RV project, a very large “garage” that is well-equipped with all manner of tools and three bays, one of which has been expanded to accommodate the full length of their 36′ Tiffin Allegro Bus.

Bruce & Jan, long time friends of Bill & Colleen, often come for a visit, and they were there for some of the effort.  Bruce is as much of a gear- and electronics-head as Bill.  They had parked their “new” 43′ Allegro Bus, purchased just after we bought ours,  at the extra electric pedestal and sewer line that Bill installed near the garage.

Casey, a “homeless” free spirit who Bill met on a hike a few years ago, often stops by for a visit.  He owns no house, and sleeps in his car and subsists by eating mostly cold canned goods.  He is sympathetic to some aspects of Buddhism, is philosophically inclined, and seems to believe that by engaging in meditation he is not only attending to his own spiritual needs, but is also somehow helping the Universe to progress.  His role in the RV project was limited to being a bemused and benevolent observer.

Buck also became acquainted with Bill by virtue of their having met on a hike.  Periodically during the project he would take a day off and go charging up a mountain, sometimes carrying extra weight for training purposes.  He is a gentle giant of a man with a self-effacing humble attitude, despite the fact that he is every bit as mentally sharp as he is physically capable.  He is also interested in Buddhism, with an emphasis on becoming “mindful” and learning to tune out distractions.  He just retired early from a career as a lineman for a utility company.  His ex-colleagues and Bill call him “Meat”.  He recently purchased a class ‘A’ RV and accepted an invitation from Bill to park it back behind the garage and live in it for the summer.  He became an instant friend of Barb and me because of his attitude.  When my arthritis hindered my efforts, Buck would take over.  Soon, anticipating my handicap, he initiated his participation.  He was a tremendous help during the project.

Bill & Colleen and Casey (before he left) and Buck met in the house almost every morning for an hour-or-so of meditation.  Afterwards, they would be joined by Barb and me and (when present) Bruce, for a 2+ mile hike along a circular path in the woods.

Toward the end of the project, Bill and Colleen’s long-time friends Jeff & Donna joined the group.  They appeared in their new-to-them fifth wheel camper, pulled by their new-to-them truck, both of which they bought from Bruce when he traded up to the Bus.  Jeff brought along his tools for concrete work; Bill & Buck joined him in pouring a floor in the extension for Bill’s RV.

This enormous RV project could not have been completed were it not for Bill, who provided the tools, the know-how, and — frankly — much of the labor.  Bruce was there for some of the early projects,  providing important how-to check-lists for operating the RV and contributing specialized tools, since by the time we arrived in Parks, he had also accomplished many of the same tasks.  In order to continue to provide continuing service for the impressive fleet of three Tiffin Allegro Buses, Bruce and Bill purchased and invented important support tools, such as large tanks to capture fluids and a pump with appropriate attachments for fluid transfer.   I cannot overstate my gratitude to Bill, Buck and Bruce.

Barb was the de facto supply officer for ordering the to-be-installed stuff from Amazon and Tiffin. She installed the tire monitors and replaced the light bulbs.  And she made a thousand trips to Flagstaff to buy parts and/or supplies.  She found new homes in the new RV for the stuff we had in the old RV.  She advertised the old RV and the old tow vehicle, and successfully oversaw their (independent) sale in remarkably little time.  She also sold the Honda bumper that we removed while installing the baseplate.

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway.  But that account will have to wait for the next installment of “the travel adventures of Chuck & Barb”.

Below the Sea (Part One) — 2017-2018 Season in Bonaire

All photos ©Charles Shipley 2017-2018, please do not use without permission.

Here are some of the underwater “fish” photos I took during the 2017-18 season in Bonaire.

 

Closing Out the Season; News from above the Sea — Mar 4-May 2, 2018

This post will be a quick overview of some of our above-water activities during the last half of our season in Bonaire.

Barb and I fell into the habit of having Sunday breakfasts at La CrĂŞperie early in the season, and continued that practice throughout our time in Bonaire. When Mike and Roberta, co-owners of our pickup, arrived “late” in Bonaire, having been delayed by the birth of their first grandchild back in Portland, OR, they joined us in crepe worship. The four of us also partook of the best arepas in Bonaire at the gazebo on Coco Beach run by Yhanni. And we continued our practice of attending the Burger Nights at Zazu.  We also went to Tuna Night at Hill Side; on one occasion transporting a gaggle of folks that overflowed into the back of our pickup. We also took the pickup to one of the monthly wine tasting events held at Antillean Wine. One afternoon we made sushi at Pat’s, whom we met a couple of years ago through Mike and Roberta. We went on a dive/snorkel trip to Klein Bonaire with Pat and Mike & Roberta and Rod & Jill and Rod’s cousin Chuck, afterwards stopping at the beach on the north side for a picnic lunch. Well before the arrival of Mike & Roberta, at the initiative of Lawrence (Phatt Cat), we began playing Mexican Train every Sunday night at the Divers’ Diner. It turned out to be a very popular event, attracting two tables totaling 12 to 16 players. Jill & Rod’s son Roddie visited for a while, during which a bunch of us celebrated Jill’s birthday at Zazu, including Kim and Doug (Gabriel). Speaking of whom, the couple again presented a series of four sessions on fish identification, this time hosted by Dive Friends at their Yellow Submarine location.  The lessons are designed to provide certification with REEF to enable citizen-based fish surveys.

On April 13, I completed my 1000th scuba dive. Diving with me to mark the occasion were Barb and Mike & Roberta.  Later, Barb threw a party for me on Tusen Takk II, attended by Roberta & Mike, Kim & Doug, Jill & Rod & Roddie, and Sherry & Lawrence. Barb was enormously supportive as I pushed to reach the milestone before we had to leave Bonaire.  We were first certified in 1991. Over 600 of my dives were at Bonaire, including about 400 of the most recent during the last four seasons. (Watch for a subsequent post featuring some of my underwater pictures.)

On April 17 we joined Roberta & Mike at Pasta e Basta, a special occasion at the restaurant It Rains Fishes: an evening of dinner and music provided by singing waiters from an Amsterdam restaurant of the same name: Pasta e Basta. For a review of the Bonaire version, click here.

We received word that my 99 year-old mother was experiencing health problems, so we pushed up our departure date from Bonaire and took Tusen Takk II to Curacao on April 23.  We worked frantically at Curacao to put the boat to bed, including putting down four coats of varnish on the cap rails to help them resist the Caribbean sun during our six-month summer absence, but on April 28, on the eve of our departure, joined Al & Maggy (Sweet Dreams) for dinner at scenic Fort Nassau.

Barb’s sister Audrey Visits — Feb. 24-Mar. 3, 2018

Audrey came to Bonaire for a one-week visit recently.  We kept her busy with various social activities, but she still found time to just read and relax.  We were invited out to a sushi dinner at Ron and Nancy’s; one of the last engagements at their “old” home before moving into their “new” larger home just a few doors away.  The ladies visited with Pat on several occasions.  Don and Pam were back to the island for a very brief visit; we saw them at Burger Night at Zazu and also got together at La CrĂŞperie on Saturday morning.  We took Audrey to Coco Beach to introduce her to Yhanni and her arepas.  Barb and Audrey snorkeled a number of times, including one trip to the dive site Thousand Steps with Pat.  On another occasion we all went to Klein where they snorkeled while I dove.   And then the pièce de rĂ©sistance: Barb took Audrey out to the Donkey Shelter!  I suspect that will become one of the must-see experiences for visitors to Tusen Takk II.

Norwegian Friends Visit us in Bonaire — January 23-February 1, 2018

On January 23 friends Lars Helge and Tove Brunborg arrived from Norway to spend some time with us on Tusen Takk II.  They were knackered after a long day of travel, first to Amsterdam from Kristiansand and then on a direct flight to Bonaire, but they stayed up long enough to partake of a glass or two of welcoming Prosecco.

Next day we showed them a little of Kralendijk with a walk through some of the village.  Here they are at the waterfront near the cruiseship dock.

On the 25th we boarded our beloved “Wanda” pickup and toured the south side of the island, making our usual stops at the salt pier, the white and pink slave huts, the kite surfing beach and finally the Sorbonne Resort for lunch. Afterwards we took the side road up to the north side of Lac Bai in search of flamingos.

On the 26th we were all invited to join Mary Grace and Frank aboard Let it Be on a sailing trip down to Salt Pier, where we tied up to a dive buoy and then took their dinghy under the Pier for a snorkel. On the way back we sailed around Klein Bonaire. Thanks Mary Grace and Frank for a great afternoon!

On the 27th we counted parrots. We had been trained and assigned a territory on a previous night. We arose shortly after 4 AM in order to get to a roost just south of Rincon. The counting was from 6 AM to 8 AM. The protocol was to count a parrot only after it had risen up from the roost and flown away. Since they generally did not land again in the immediate area, double counting was largely avoided. Our first parrot left at about 6:25 AM and our last about 7:45 AM. We counted a whopping 74 parrots in all! Our results were turned in at the entrance to the Washington-Slagbai Park, where we learned that the preliminary total count was 10xx, considerably up from the 8xx count of the previous year. We were served a breakfast of sandwiches and fruit and then returned to our boats (plural because we also gave a ride to Mary Grace and Frank), stopping at Seru Largu (Papamiento translation: large hill) along the way.

On Sunday, January 28, we went into Kralendijk and had breakfast at La CrĂŞperie.  (No photos: too busy eating).

On the 29th we took Tusen Takk II out to deep water in order to empty our holding tank. We took the opportunity to do a little motor cruising and circled Klein, discovering in the process Paul Allen’s Yacht Tatoosh anchored in deep sand west of Klein.

On the 30th we took the pickup round to Windsock Beach where we lounged in the sand under a small tree and some of us snorkeled. We also partook of sandwiches and adult beverages. For most of the visit we’ve had periods of precipitation, and this day was no exception. We were ultimately chased home by a gusty shower.

On Wednesday, January 31, Barb got up early to check out the special moon. Alas, the cloudy weather persisted. We took our pickup “Wanda” out to the donkey sanctuary and fed them carrots we had purchased on the way.  Afterwards we had lunch at the Windsock, the Beach Bar and Restaurant. That evening Mary Grace and Frank joined us at The Bistro for the famous burger night. Afterwards, we enjoyed drinks and conversation aboard Let It Be.

We have been trading visits with the Brunborgs for many years now. It is always fun to spend some time with these good friends from Norway. We are already discussing our next get-together.

Back in the Caribbean — Curacao, November 6-16, 2017

On Monday, November 6, we flew out of Atlanta and on to Curacao via Miami. Bill met us at the airport; he was already there getting his boat Dolce Vita ready for sale. The boat was in Bristol condition and passed the subsequent survey with flying colors. But to no avail. At the last minute the prospective buyer got cold feet. The would-be buyer had absolutely no complaint about the price or the boat or Bill’s conduct; he simply realized rather late in the game that he didn’t want to be a blue-water sailor.  Bill subsequently took the boat up to the BVIs where he left it under the care of a broker in Trellis Bay.

Our stay in Curacao was relatively brief and relatively busy, but we did have some pleasant outings with Bill before his departure, including some memorable orders of ribs at the nearby Rodeo Restaurant.

We took delivery of our newly upholstered settee cushions (manufactured during our summer absence).  We got help from Curacao Marine to install two new 8D batteries for the bow thruster.  We had the bottom painted with antifouling.  I cleaned off the huge propellor and rudder, opting to leave it bare this time as an experiment, given that Prop Speed is expensive and keeps peeling off, and given that the Sergeant Majors in Bonaire do a creditable job of keeping the hull and running gear remarkably clean.

We splashed on November 14 and departed for Bonaire on November 16.  Along the way, as we passed through calm seas, we caught a small Mahi-mahi.  Yummy!  (When we got the fish aboard we discovered that our container of “fish pacifier” had evaporated, so we pressed into service some under-utilized Sambvca. I think the fish died happy.)

Back to Georgia — Rincon, Savannah & Atlanta; October 27 – November 6, 2017

Rincon

We flew from Phoenix AZ  into Atlanta, where we rented a car and drove to the Savannah area.  Our initial stay was in a motel near the Savannah airport, since that afforded relatively easy access to Rincon, where daughter Danielle and her daughter Abigail live.  We were joined for most of our socializing by Danielle’s older daughter Kristen, who lives south of Savannah but is pursuing an MBA at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.  We all enjoyed several rousing games of Kings Cross at Danielle’s, and we all patronized a number of local restaurants.

On October 28 we all went to a local corn maze, where we saw dramatic evidence of the ill effects of too much rain for too much of the summer.

Savannah

We subsequently moved to a motel within Savannah in order to be closer to our various doctors and to the Savannah College of Art & Design annual film festival.  We had scheduled our visit to correspond to the festival, but alas, we had waited too long to secure our tickets and consequently saw many fewer than we wished.

One that we DID see, however, we enjoyed immensely.  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, stars Frances McDormand, in a role written just for her.  I understand it opened initially in just a few markets, so we were doubly pleased to be able to see it before its official opening.

On an off day, one without doctor appointments or movie tickets, we drove out to Tybee Island. Very quiet place, this time of year.

And we found time to visit the Miwa Sushi Restaurant in Pooler, not once, but twice during our stay.  We think it is the best Sushi restaurant in Savannah, and we always try to drop in at least once when we are in the Savannah area.

And while I am praising Savannah restaurants, I must mention  Joe’s Homemade Cafe, Catering & Bakery.  We discovered it last year, and had to go back.  It is a tiny place with only a few tables, but the staff is super friendly and the offerings — salads, sandwiches, panini, and desserts — are extraordinary.   By the way, as you pay at the register, ask “which one is Joe?”

Atlanta

On Friday,  November 3, we drove our rental back up to Atlanta in order to spend the weekend with daughter Nellie, her husband Michael, and their two sons Michael and Connor.  It was a very good visit.  On Nov. 4 we all took a nice long walk (20,000 steps on my Fitbit) along the nearby Beltway, ending up at Piedmont Park, where we entered the Botanical Gardens.  Lovely place.  I took a gazillion pictures, with special emphasis on the orchids and on the colorful pitcher plants.  Also a few of Venus fly traps.  With enormous misgivings I include only one of each here.

On Sunday, another nice walk, but perhaps only half as long.  They live in a very interesting part of Atlanta, very near the Carter Center.

Early Monday morning we took our rental car back to the Atlanta airport and hopped a plane to Curacao, via Miami.  But Curacao is another topic for another post.

More Time With Friends — Lake Powell & Grand Canyon North Rim; October 17-27, 2017

The gang of six got settled into the Wahweap RV & Campground on October 17, and took the pontoon boat out onto Lake Powell the next day.  The day was mostly sunny, but fairly cool.  Our destination was Rainbow Bridge.

From Wikipedia:

A natural arch, or natural bridge is a natural rock formation where an arch has formed with an opening underneath. Natural arches are formed from narrow fins composed of sandstone or limestone with steep, often vertical, cliff faces. The formations become narrower due to erosion over geologic time scales. The softer rock stratum erodes away creating rock shelters, or alcoves, on opposite sides of the formation beneath the relatively harder caprock, above it. The alcoves erode further into the formation eventually meeting underneath the harder caprock layer, thus creating an arch.  The caprock itself continues to erode after an arch has formed, which will ultimately lead to collapse. The Natural Arch and Bridge Society identifies a bridge as a subtype of arch that is primarily water-formed.  [Indeed.  Bill & Colleen report that a number of years ago they were able to boat all the way up to and directly under the bridge.  Today, because of receding lake depth, there is a significant hike from the Park wharf to the bridge.  CTS ]

Rainbow Bridge is often described as the world’s highest natural bridge. The span of Rainbow Bridge was reported in 1974 to be 275 feet, but a laser measurement in 2007 has resulted in a span of 234 feet. At the top it is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide. The bridge, which is of cultural importance to a number of area Native American tribes, has been designated a Traditional Cultural Property by the National Park Service.

Rainbow Bridge is one of the most accessible of the large arches of the world. It can be reached by a three-hour boat ride on Lake Powell [which is what we did] followed by a mile-long walk [not really that long] from the National Park wharf in Bridge Canyon, or by hiking several days overland from a trailhead on the south side of Lake Powell (obtain a permit from the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona).

 
The weather not looking favorable on October 19, we took a day off from boating and instead drove up to the Northern Rim of Grand Canyon.  The weather wasn’t perfect for that either, since the mostly cloudy skies provided sub-optimal illumination for the colorful canyon sides.  But then, just as we were on our way back to our vehicle as the sun approached the horizon, the sun broke through for a few precious moments.  Joan and I quickly grabbed a few consolation shots.

On October 20 we returned to the Lake despite a rather grim forecast of high winds later in the day. We told ourselves that we weren’t going far and that we would be protected by the cliffs to the west, since we planned to go south to the Glen Canyon Dam. On our way, we lallygagged at the marina, spending time looking at the huge pontoon boats moored and docked there, and perusing the gift and nautical shop. When we arrived in the vicinity of the dam, we had a leisurely snack of cheese, crackers, grapes and margaritas. And then the wind hit. We soon discovered that the winds were coming from the direction in which we needed to travel in order to get back to our launch ramp, and that the wind-swept waves were hitting the front of the boat and splashing up onto we hapless passengers. To make matters worse, the wind began to threaten to rip the canvas bimini, and so we had to stop and disassemble that. When we reached the launch ramp, we realized that the wind and waves at that site were broadside, rendering impossible getting the boat back onto the trailer. So we retreated to another ramp that was more protected, moved the truck and trailer to our new ramp, and ultimately arrived safely back at our campground, albeit more than a little cold and wet.

While Barb stayed back to do some RV chores, the rest of us drove out to Horseshoe Bend, on the Colorado River about 4 miles southwest of Page. It is accessible via hiking a 1.5-mile round trip from U.S. Route 89, and can be viewed from the steep cliff above the river.  The distance from the overlook to the Colorado River below is about 1,000 feet.

On October 21 the brothers and their wives got up early and joined a guided visit to Antelope Canyon. Barb and I had been there the year before (see our blog coverage here), so Barb did some laundry while I worked on our overdue blogs. When they returned, Matt & Joan split off and headed northward toward Utah’s National Parks and the rest of us returned to Parks, where we spent a few days cleaning our RVs and getting ours ready to be tucked into an RV storage facility not far from Parks. Late in our preparations we realized that the Chevy Tracker could fit into our rented space as well if only it could be put in sideways in front of the RV. Bill had four stands on wheels, and so that is what we did. We had inches to spare.

With Friends Again — Parks & Lake Havasu, AZ; October 9-13, 2017

We returned from the Valley of Fire to Las Vegas, where we spent a few days preparing to be gone from Barb’s dad for another year.  Then we drove straight to the home of friends Bill and Colleen, some 20 miles west of Flagstaff, located in the beautiful boonies about 8 miles north of the one-horse town of Parks.  There we met Bill’s brother Matt and his wife Joan.  Matt was there to help Bill modify his garage to accomodate Bill & Colleen’s new-to-them Allegro 36 Bus.  When we arrived they had already pushed out an extension to accommodate the length of the bus, and they were just about to begin raising the height of the front door.  The brothers are both accomplished mechanics and builders, so my role was confined to fetching tools and giving an occasional hand when a little extra muscle was needed.

Bill’s friends Bruce & Jan Dodge had left their pontoon boat with Bill, and so after the door modification was brought to a point that it could be left for a while, the six of us proceeded down to Islander RV Resort, a ritzy campground at Lake Havasu, AZ.  When we called for a reservation, we were asked the year of manufacture of our RV.  When we responded with 2004, we were told that they only accept RVs that are less than 10 years old, but that we could request special permission if we sent pictures of the RV so that the manager could consider the request.  We sent a package of pictures of the exterior, and were granted admission.

Bill towed the pontoon boat behind their powerful diesel-powered RV, we towed our Chevy Tracker behind our much-less-powerful gas-powered Allegro, and Matt towed their fifth-wheel camper.  The RV office and the campsites were indeed several cuts above the average campground, and the attendants were likewise especially polished and professional.  A very nice place to spend some time.

 

From Wikipedia:

Lake Havasu is a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River, on the border between California and Arizona. Lake Havasu City sits on the lake’s eastern shore. The concrete arch dam was built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938. The lake’s primary purpose is to store water for pumping into two aqueducts.

The London Bridge crosses a narrow channel that leads from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River to Thompson Bay (also on the river). It was bought for US $2.5 million from the City of London when the bridge was replaced in 1968. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled for another US $7 million. Since its inauguration on October 5, 1971, it has attracted thousands of visitors each year.

Lake Havasu City is an active destination for a wide range of people. During the spring months, the community is joined by university students during Spring Break. The city is also home to the International World Jet Ski Final Races, multiple professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, the Western Winter Blast pyrotechnics convention, Havasu 95 Speedway, the Chilln-n-Swilln Beer Festival annual charity event, the Havasu Triathlon, the Havasu Half Marathon, and the Havasu Island Hot Air Balloon Fest & Fair.  In the winter months, the community is joined by snowbirds from colder regions of the country and Canada. 

We spent two lovely days on the Lake, and then returned to Parks to finish the modification of the garage. When we had done as much as we could do (lacking only an on-order additional panel needed for the longer door to fit the higher opening, the six of us took the pontoon boat (and our campers) up to Lake Powell. But that is the subject of the next post.

Camping on Our Own — Valley of Fire, October 1-7, 2017

At the recommendation of son Jeff, we left Las Vegas on October 1 and drove the approximately 55 miles northeast through the Mojave Desert to The Valley of Fire State Park. It is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935.  It covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres and was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era).  These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.  Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates.

We had a marvelous time driving to the various named sites and then hiking about. The last day we went on a ranger-led hike to the Atlatl petroglyphs.  We had been there earlier in the week, but thought it might be interesting to get more information.   We were amazed at how many petroglyphs were in the immediate area that we had not noticed.

 Jeff came out and visited us for a few hours one afternoon in his new Jeep Wrangler.  

Next time you are in Vegas, take some time off from the glitter and gloss and spend some time in this beautiful patch of nature.