Saturday around noon, January 11, 2020
By Chuck Woodbury
Gail and I are still in Needles, California. We dined last evening at the Wagon Wheel, a hot spot here since 1955 (when it was called Lynn’s Broiler), when Route 66 was not yet bypassed by Interstate 40. The fare is American comfort food.
We holed up in the motorhome Friday. The winds were brisk, and Friday is always my day to finish up the Saturday newsletter. I usually work on it most of the day. Diane McGovern finishes up late in the evening, usually fixing my mistakes, which helps preserve my image as a guy who knows how to write and spell.
My walk in the desert this morning with my dog Archie was eventful. We surprised a Bobcat. It was maybe 40 feet ahead of us. Archie took off running toward it, but couldn’t go far (thankfully) because of his leash. The Bobcat moved briskly away from us, right toward the border of the campground, then stopped to watch us. I was reminded how RVers should never leave their small pets alone outside in the desert. A Bobcat or Coyote might be hungry. It’s not quite warm enough for rattlesnakes to make their appearance yet, so no need to worry about them.
Gail saw a Roadrunner the other day. I love those little fellows. Quail are everywhere.
In Oatman the other day, a tourist “ghost” town to the max, I learned that the biggest selling tee-shirts in shops there are size 2x. That says something about our society. When I had my newspaper Out West in the 1990s, we sold hundreds of tee-shirts. The biggest sellers then were large and extra large.
In Oatman, signs advertise burro food for a dollar. Another sign says “Don’t feed the Hippies.” Not sure what that is all about.
I mentioned yesterday that one of the most famous moments in Oatman’s history is when Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon night in the Oatman Hotel. They had married earlier in nearby Kingman. The photo above is their room as it looks today. As you can see it’s not very luxurious. In case you didn’t know, Carole Lombard died a few years later in a plane crash. She was a very popular actress in her day.
I also told you yesterday that one of Needle’s claims to fame is it’s home to the brother of Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy. I mentioned to keep your eye open for murals of Spike around town. This is just one (above). They are not always in prominent places. This one is on the side of the town museum, which, by the way, was once a JCPenny store.
It’s sunny today and should reach about 68 degrees later on. We’re headed to Lake Havasu City for its annual hot air balloon festival. Untethered rides are offered for $200, which seems reasonable. I have flown twice in a balloon: in the Sierra foothills of California and in Turkey. If you have never flown in one, put doing so on your bucket list. It’s very peaceful. You are always moving at the same speed as the wind, so you feel no wind at all in your face and it’s very quiet. And, of course, no matter where you are, the view is always magnificent.
While in Lake Havasu City we’ll walk across the London Bridge. It’s the real thing, disassembled in London and flown here and reassembled in the 1960s over a canal dug just for it. It put Lake Havasu City on the map.
When the bridge was in London, once a year there was a special ceremony where the Lord Mayor of London would walk across it with some sheep. I witnessed the ceremony about 25 years ago in Lake Havasu City. All I remember was that the locals had to go a few dozen miles to find a sheep for the ceremony. So the procession across the bridge was the Lord Mayor and a few other fellows walking across accompanied by a single sheep. They have found a better supply these days.
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For some reason our reader survey did not work yesterday for most of the morning. So we have repeated it today. It’s a controversial topic (even though it shouldn’t be), so we’ve closed comments to avoid nastiness.
I’ve written about my dog, Archie, a few times lately. We rescued him a year ago while in central California (I avoid stopping at animal shelters as a rule because I get depressed when I see a cute lonely fellow like Archie and I can’t adopt him). Well, Gail found Archie (he was named Grover at the time because he was found in an orange grove) at a shelter adoption event and asked me if we could take him. She sent his picture and I fell hopelessly in love. He is my new best buddy, a keeper! Reader Lew McCool wrote me this morning asking to see a pic of Archie. So here he is.
And speaking of Archie, a thought popped into my head yesterday about his dreams. Dogs are always dreaming. Their legs flop around, and you know they’re chasing something or being chased. What I wondered was whether Archie dreams about Gail and me. My guess is he does, but that’s just a guess. If you are an expert on this, please let me know.
I’ll try to write more tonight, but we may not get back until late, so maybe not.
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8 p.m. We’re back from Lake Havasu City. The 50-minute drive back to Needles at night through the desert was stunning with the full moon gradually rising from behind the mountains. I am thrilled to report that the English Village alongside the London Bridge is once again a lively place. It looked like a ghost town when I visited four years ago. Two outdoor restaurants below and alongside the bridge were packed this evening. Tourists were strolling around — a very pleasing place to be on a warm evening in the desert.
The hot air balloon festival was a disappointment. It was a little too windy for the balloons to fly. The festival was okay — lots of booths selling mostly cheap and tacky stuff, tee-shirts, and at least three vendors offering pain relief. But it was fun strolling around watching everybody.
That’s about it for now.