Monday, February 13, 2012

London Bridge and back again.

After seeing the London Bridge, we met up with my parents who were just a few hours behind us in arriving in Lake Havasu City.  Since we were traveling there on a Sunday after church, we planned ahead and ordered a 4 foot sub sandwich from the Wal*Mart Deli to pick up on Saturday so that we wouldn't have to break the law of the Sabbath by eating out.  When I had gone to pick up the sandwich, however, it was discovered that my order had been lost, and they didn't have it ready.  They said they had enough bread to make me one if I could come back later.  I had ordered it from a North Mesa store because it was handy to pick up from after a class I attended on Saturday morning and leave it with my parents to bring over since their car would be less crowded than mine.  So, instead of waiting the hour to pick it up, my parents volunteered to get it since it was their nearest Wal*Mart.  As it turned out, since they had lost my order, the manager made sure to give us two extra feet of sandwich, so we had A LOT of sub sandwich to eat.
At dinner, I talked about how if Archer woke up just before dawn I'd take a walk with him to see the sunrise.  We had just missed seeing the sunset over the bridge, and thought the only way to make up for it would be to watch it rise over the bridge instead.  So, when Archer did indeed wake up at 5:30, eat, poop, and want to play, I decided it would be a good time to go for a stroll with him in the crisp morning air
The other kids may have been sleeping, but
We asked the lady at the front desk where the wheelchair accessible way to the bridge was.  She responded, "Can you do a few stairs?"  
I said, "How many is a few?"
She said, "three or four."
I thought that was doable, so we headed out to where she had described to go up the three or four stairs to the bridge.   We passed a flight of 14 steep stairs, knew that wasn't it, and kept going.  We passed another flight of 14 steep stairs, knew THAT wasn't it, and kept going.  The next flight of stairs was even longer, and there weren't any more flights.  We backtracked.  Nope.  Hadn't missed anything.  I decided that we'd go up the stairs carefully, and find a different way down.  The sun was coming up, after all, and we didn't want to miss it.  So, I carefully backed up the stairs with the stroller, one step at a time.  We made it up, crossed the bridge, found what we thought would be a great viewpoint, and did some people watching.
I sat down on the shore to relax while
Just as the sun began to paint the sky with color, 
I turned to find that Archer had been 
The brilliant skies were just beginning to peak, with the silhouette of the bridge in the foreground.  It was lovely,
but as beautiful as the sunrise was, it couldn't compete with Archer's peaceful little face at that moment, and I found myself mesmerized by my sweet little baby.

Remembering the good advice, "Sleep when your baby sleeps" and knowing I had to drive the nearly 5 hours back to Gilbert later that day, I decided to start walking back to our room.

As I crossed back over the bridge, I was really noticing the artisanship and detail of the every aspect of its' making.  
I loved the lampposts. 

On the way back, we searched for a wheelchair accessible way back down to our hotel.  We never found one, so we went the way the trucks go.  Luckily there wasn't any truck traffic at dawn.

Back at the room, the other kids woke up when Archer and I returned.  So much for the "sleep when baby sleeps" thing.  

Grandma and Grandpa {eventually} woke up, and we decided to go to McDonald's for breakfast.  We thought we knew all about snowbirds, these kids having lived most of their lives in the Valley of the Sun, but this little trip opened our eyes to their world a little more.  I think Quartzsite must cease to exist in the summer.  It seems that the entire population of the place is at-rest motorhomes.  And from there all the way to Lake Havasu City, we saw more motorhomes than we'd ever imagined were in existence. 

Well, McDonald's on a Monday morning was quite the site. We walked in and were surprised to find the place completely packed!  Every seat was taken, and there wasn't a line, but more like a white-haired mob in front of the registers. We entered and looked for a line, and having been unsuccessful, walked over and stood behind part of the mob and waited.  After a minute, an older woman, clearly peeved that we had not followed her rules, told us that we should go back behind the other side of the mob and wait to be called.  I was raised to respect my elders, so even though it was against all logic, we followed her direction.  No sooner did we move, clearly giving up our place in the mob-line-thing, then what a few people walk in the door, and go stand right where we had been.  Now, we were behind about 30 people instead of 4.  I saw the older woman try to tell the people who walked in that they needed to go stand somewhere else, but they didn't pay her any mind. She kept eyeing us.  I knew she was watching to see what we'd do.  After a few minutes, she still hadn't ordered because she had never been called, but the people who walked in behind us, and then more people had already ordered because they had done like I had done and tried to stand in some semblance of a line.

I gave up and moved back to where I had originally been, and in time was able to place an order, but then there was not one single seat the whole place to sit in, and we had 7 of us needing a place to eat.  I sent the kids searching out a place while I waited for the food.  The whole place was filled with old people.  Not youngerish old people like my retirement-age parents who were with us, but late-seventies and eight-something aged people.  I'm pretty certain I was the only adult under the age of 65.

We did finally find seating at 4 separate tables for two.  I sat alone to eat. You know how sometimes older folks think they are whispering, but to you, it is just loud talking?  I heard one person say to the person next to them, "Why are there children here?" I thought that was a strange thing to ask at McDonalds, but whatever.  The other person answered.  "I don't see any children!"  In her loud trying-to-whisper voice she responded, "Yes, there are children right behind you!  Look!  Why aren't they in school?"  Her friend answered, "Because it's President's Day, obviously!"  "Oh, yeah!"

I didn't have the heart to tell them that I could hear them "whispering," but then I didn't have the heart to tell them that President's Day wasn't for another week, either.  

After breakfast, we drove around Lake Havasu City for a while until we decided that there wasn't much there to see except the London Bridge.  It was really windy and colder than you'd expect, and spitting rain from time to time, so we decided not to do the beach-front park or get sno-cones.  We headed back to the hotel to find out if the pool was heated.  We had seen a sign boasting a 90-foot waterslide at the pool.  We were ready for action.  When I asked the concierge about the pool, she asked if I had found the wheelchair accessible way to the bridge.  I told her that it was 14 stairs, and she only responded, "Oh!  Well, I haven't been that way in a while."

High fashion, we are.

After everyone had jumped in and gotten wet, they asked me how to get to the ninety-foot waterslide.  I got up and walked around to investigate.  The waterslide which went from a tower beside this pool into a pool on a lower level was closed, and the lower-level pool was being resurfaced.  Between the cold windy air and the smell of the chemicals that the workers were using below us, we decided not to swim for too long.  The kids were finished and it was time to start our journey home.

We said our goodbyes to my parents, wrapped up a few sub sandwiches to take home, and started on the road.  

On our way home, we passed a sign that said "Parker Dam, 1/2 mile."  We decided that if we were this close, we should see it.  Nevan groaned a bit, but he thought it was worth the extra two minutes once he saw it and crossed it.
We could have turned around right then and there and gone back to the highway.  That is, if we were other people.  Because once Kobialka's find a Byway, they can't help but take it.  

We didn't have a map with us, but I hoped that it would eventually lead "BURROS ON ROAD." 
 I told the kids that there were wild burros in the area and to keep their eyes peeled for them.  We didn't drive 2 more minutes when lo and behold, we saw one chewing on palo brea trees!
I pulled over so the kids could get a better look and so that I could take a picture, and she started running down the hill.  I thought that would be the last that we saw of her, but wouldn't you know, she was running toward us!

 I took this shot through the front window, and Nevan rolled down his window beside me.
When she came nosing around his window, I told him, "They're wild animals."
He ignored me.
"Don't complain to me if she bites your fingers!"
He ignored me.
"We don't want to disturb their natural fear of humans!"
He didn't listen.

So what happened next?

Four retirees get out of a car from Minnesota 
with carrots.  
 There went my whole 
"leave nature alone" pitch.

So, what did we do?

We got out and joined them, naturally.  

And we discovered that this burro had 
a cute little burrito with her!
 Mama Burro's baby was just 
 We decided right then and there that 
Byways are the BEST,
a fact that we already knew, 
but which just keeps getting truer.
 Our new friends from Minnesota even left each of the kids with a carrot to share with the burros.
 Mayzie has always, always had a deep embedded love for all creatures equestrian.
 I love how Mama struck a pose for Mayzie.
 When it was my turn to meet her, I told her that I was a mama, too, and she seemed to understand.
We enjoyed our time with the burros, 
but it was time to go.
We found more burros along the way, 
but these were the only two that we 
became friends with.
A little further down the road, we came across this old building, and I just had to stop with the girls and explore.
 Just as I took this picture, Meeka surprised Mayzie with a big hug.
 Such a cute moment.  Too bad I got the truck passing in the background.  
Mayzie had her crazy orange socks and red soccer cleats on because we figured we'd be going straight to practice when we arrived back in town.
 Next to this old building was this awesome tree.
 If it weren't so far and in the middle of absolutely nowhere, we'd go back and get family pictures under it.
 I picked up this volcanic rock and discovered gems inside.
At Parker, our byway did come back to the highway.  But by then, Mayzie had completely fallen asleep.
She hadn't slept all night because Archer had been noisy.  
Meeka and Nevan had been able to sleep through it, but not Mayzie.

The car was quiet.  Meeka was coloring in the back, and Nevan was sitting beside me with the laptop he brought along to write his book report on.  I noticed Nevan was not typing, but watching out the windows as we drove along the 95.  I said to him, "those windows are a bit distracting, aren't they?"  He said, "well, you don't see mountains like these in word documents very often."

So true.

I had promised the kids that we'd get ice cream at Quartzsite on our way back through.

And I keep my promises.
 Dorothy and Toto's Ice Cream Shoppe was a nice way to end our adventure.  They also had a big kettle outside with fresh kettle corn for the buying.
 Ice cream in our bellies, and kettle corn for the drive, we were truly ready to get home.
We did make one more stop near Tonapah to get gas, and found this:
Which left us asking,
My guess is that it will be there the next time we're through.  Whenever that is.

It was a great little mini roadtrip.  We loved the bridge.  Loved the cool windy weather.  Loved the time with Grandma and Grandpa.  Loved swimming in a heated pool.  Loved the beautiful scenery that you don't see in word documents very often.  And loved our new burro friends.

Good times.

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