Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lake Havasu, London Bridge and Balloons

We have now moved on to Lake Havasu City for the next month.  The city is only fifty years old and was built to take advantage of recreation provided by a lake in the middle of the desert.  It has grown into a city of over 50,000 so, even though it is far from any large urban center, it offers all the services one needs.  There are several events scheduled while we are here including a balloon festival.  We talked about volunteering to crew but decided we would just be spectators and enjoy the balloons.  One strange thing that has been happening here is my iPhone keeps jumping from Arizona to California (we can see it out the window) time.  This caused us to be up way to early for the first day of balloons.   
As our friends back East have been freezing, the weather here has been the best we have had during any of our winter stays in the Southwest.  Every day highs have been in the middle 70's and lows around 50.  Even Nanc is enjoying the short sleeve temps.
As the town of Lake Havasu was being developed in the early 60's they decided they needed an attraction in addition to the lake to bring people here.  So in 1968 the developers bought the London Bridge, that had been crossing the river Thames since 1831, and moved it stone by stone to the desert.  The bridge was rebuilt over dry land and then a channel was dug for the water.  The idea sure worked, as London Bridge is second only to the Grand Canyon as a Arizona tourist stop.
While not nearly as big as the Albuquerque Fiesta, there were about 80 balloons at this festival.  We did learn the hard way that it is not necessary to pay to get to where the balloons are.  The first morning we paid and then ended up following the balloonists who were launching off site.  They do this to try and catch the winds that will bring them over the bridge where they do a splash and go.  Really neat!! 
More balloons over the bridge.
This guy got real wet as you can see from the water dripping off the bottom.
 Pilot in the morning sun checking out the balloon before they fire up the burners.
One unusual thing here is the safety patrol boats that tow the balloons back to shore on the Arizona side of the lake.  The California side is many miles away for the chase crews and much of it is uninhabited desert with no roads. 
It sure is neat seeing the balloons among the palm trees and over the water.
Biplanes putting on a show above the balloons.
Looking across the lake to the launch site.
Another splash and go in the narrow channel.  There were all kinds of water craft, from speed boats, to pontoons, to kayaks and even a couple of paddle boarders.
The area around the Lions and Rotary Parks along the channel and the lake is a great place to see all the action.
An unseen balloon casts its shadow on the balloon on the right and that balloon casts its shadow on the one on the left.
We saw these two balloons in Albuquerque.  Montgolfiere Racer passes over Perfect World.
The launch site from the opposite lake shore.
Several splash and goes in the lake with the California mountains in the background.  Lake Havasu is a great place to watch the balloons.  If you are like us and can't get enough of seeing the balloons here is a web album with a few more pictures.  What a great start to our month-long stay in Lake Havasu!!!

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