Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lake Havasu.. bring your water toys, Quartzsite... bring your water

Thank You for attending History 101, please take your seats and we will begin.

Lake Havasu was created when the Parker Dam was built amid turmoil in the late '30's on the Colorado River.  It was to feed water to the growing populous and farming in Southern California and Arizona. 

What it also created was a great place to have fun on the water and surrounding desert, but it took some time for it to get there.

For this we can thank the chainsaw...HUH?...I hear you say.

In 1964, Robert P. McCulloch founded Lake Havasu.  He also happened to make chainsaws, Paxton superchargers, airplanes and many other things he made plenty of money at.  He was an interesting guy with an interesting life if you want to read up on him, but for us, we can thank him for his vision and wanting to sell real estate to retirees and thus make even more money. 

We came to Lake Havasu because many people winter here and we wanted to see what was up.  Turns out it's more of a summer resort town for the people of L.A., Vegas and Phoenix.  An easy 2/3 hour drive from these places when the temps hit the low hundreds and you want to cool off on the water.  Don't get me wrong there are many people here now too but much of the touristy things are scaled back or closed completely. 

Havasu is the place for adults with toys.  Everywhere you go you see RV's, ATV's, boats, dune buggies, ultralites in the air.  The local gas station selling aviation fuel to feed the 800hp engines in your offshore boat or your modified sand rail.  Drive through the neighborhoods and you see everyone has some sort of toy or two in the driveway.  There was one couple at Cattail Cove that had two Dodge duallies, one pulling a fifth wheel and a bass boat, the other with a camper pulling a two seat ATV on a trailer.  While they were here they bought two wave runners that they had to figure out how to get home.

Mr. McCulloch also did something else big to draw people to this oasis in the desert.  In 1968 he bought the London Bridge at auction. A little under $2.5 million (big bucks in '68) and three years later it was reassembled brick by numbered brick on land and then they dug a canal to pass under it and created an island in the process.

We spent three days here at Cattail Cove State Park on the lower end of the lake, south of the city.  A smaller park that is well kept, nice beach, a boat ramp and we even had a lemon tree on our site.  It was fairly busy so make reservations if it's a holiday or long week-end.  Now that we are seasoned hikers after Sedona, we set off on another mile and half trail along the water.  There are a few different trail loops of various length to enjoy.

El Fresco office

Abby looking sour under our lemon tree.

Fire and ice and the Leafs win!

Nice view on our hike. 

Quartzsite was our next stop just a 1 1/2 hour drive down the highway.  If you are an RV'er you've heard of this place, if not, in short it is the mecca every winter for hundreds of thousands of Rv'ers attending a huge RV show in the middle of the desert.  It goes from a population of 3000 people to Arizona's third largest city for the month of January. While we aren't here for the show there are always venders and RV'ers here in the winter months.  

Most of the surrounding lands are BLM (Bureau of Land Management). Here you can boondock for free for up to 14 days without any amenities or for a small fee, $40 for14 days or $180 for the winter, there are LTVA (Long Term Visitor Areas) where you can have access to water, dump station and garbage disposal.  It is easy and cheap... find a spot, set-up camp then sit back and enjoy. 

Our camp site #1

Abby guarding her rock pile.

Right before we walked the dog.

We on the other hand set-up, sit back and enjoy a beer, take Abby for a walk, Detra sees a nicer camping spot, we go back, tear down everything, pack up everything, drive deeper into the desert, set it all up again, sit back and then mumble things into your beer.

Camp site #2

Detra building a fire pit...again

Nice pit.. she learnt a thing or two from the first one.

A Quartzsite sunset.

We are not really outfitted for dry camping so we only spent one night around the fire, under the stars and watched the sun pop up the next morning.  Many people with solar panels, generators and strong constitutions spend weeks or even months out here, spread out across the land.  There is a feeling of freedom that comes with this type of camping that would be worth the investment in all the equipment needed to sustain yourself, but for now we are more the RV resort types.

Phoenix is the next stop while we make our way to Tucson for a whole month of relaxing in one spot.

Basking in the Warmth,


  1. Thanks for the history lesson, I may have to plagiarize some of it when I do my post from there in January! I will of course give you full credit. We are heading to both Havasau, Quartzsite and Tucson in January. If you are still around maybe we will catch up with you.

    1. Thanks Jim and Barb. We are in Tuscon until Jan. 5th., it would be great to meet up if the timing works out. I hope our paths will cross in the future!

  2. HI Scott,...Wouldn't that be fun for you and Detra to meet Jim and Barb. Thanks for the history lesson. I had heard that the London Bridge was bought and moved to the USA. Now I know more about it. I chuckled when I read about Detra seeing another camping spot she liked better. Just like a woman who wants to move the furniture..and then says..Nope...put it all back. :) I sure am enjoying my armchair travels with you two. What a gorgeous sunrise! Safe travels...

    1. Thanks Mum. We are getting pretty quick at setting up, but practice makes perfect.