A week or two in Lake Havasu

A week or two in Lake Havasu

When I learned about the Wandering Individuals Network (WIN) from my prospective traveling partner as we explored merging our Winter 2023/24 itineraries, me from my boat in Spain, and he from his home in Montreal in September ’23 I was quickly hooked. The more I learned about the Network, the more I liked, and joined up the following day, the day of my mother’s birthday, which I took as a sign. Fast forward four months in time and a quarter of the way round the planet in space, for me anyway, to press pause in Arizona while I bring you up to speed with some detail on how the WINs enjoyed the Lake Havesu City gathering.

A Lake Havasu City Report for the WIN organisation’s newsletter.

Many WINs arrived on a windy hillside at the Lone Tree federal land, managed by the Bureau of Land Managment (BLM) on January 31st. This was a scheduled stop on their Western Winter Circuit many of the participants were ‘full time’ RVrs, that is they live in their motorhomes year round, while others only spend the winter months as Snowbirds, migrating South in October to escape freezing temperatures “chasing 70 degrees”. While the Bureau of Land management’s mission is to ‘sustain the health, diversity and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of the present and future generations’, they only welcome campers for two weeks at a time, after which they are obliged to move on. However there are so many areas of State Trust and Federal Land, the WINs can easily move around from place to place for a whole winter, even for a whole year, camping for free.

The first meeting of the Lake Havasu two weeks visit was held at 4pm. After which Misty, Angela, André, Larry, Peter and Jerry went to the Four Clovers Irish Themed Pub/Restaurant for dinner. With the easy parking, warm welcome and cosy ambiance, not to mention the great food and drinks on offer, we soon forgot the industrial park environment. Levi, the General Manager (seen between André and Peter in the photo) built the heavy wooden tables himself. He looks forward to welcoming the WINs, suggesting that for parties of 8 and above we avoid Wednesdays when Prime Rib is on Special, and Fridays.

The austere, minimalist frontage belied a traditional Irish welcome.
From Left to Right, Misty, myself, André, Levi, Peter and Jerry. Photo credit to Misty on my phone.
‘Coincidentally’ the Snowbirds alighted in this Irish pub on St. Bridget’s Day.

The WINs met twice at the beginning and end of Wednesday February 1st’s scheduled ‘Free’ day. Lots of events on the white board for the coming weeks now, as well as a break from the North wind and some warmer weather forecast for the next few days!

The WINs generally have two planning meetings each day, morning and afternoon.

On Thursday, 2nd February, several WINs set out by vehicle from Lone Tree BLM Campground at ‘Tail Lights 10:30’. The convoy headed for Lake Havasu island trail. At the trail head the 7 cyclists and 3 walkers split up. As those on two wheels sped off into the distance, the others walked in the direction of London Bridge Beach, circling round the busy Lions Dog Park to approach the historic bridge from the South.

Sassy came too in her towed vehicle.

After photos we noticed the soft notes of a saxophone wafting across the water. We followed the sounds climbing the many steps up to London Bridge. As we crossed we admired the ornate lampposts made from the melted-down cannons captured by the British from Napoleon’s army, after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The walkers noticed the original lamp posts on the London Bridge made from cannon used in the Napoleonic Wars.
Bridgewater Channel looking towards Lake Havasu

We found the saxophonist under the ‘First Arch’ where there is a stage for public performances. After a walk along the promenade we made our way back to the rendezvous in time to meet the returning cyclists.

We followed the sounds of the Saxophone to a stage under the first arch of London Bridge
After a pause we returned to join the others at the rendezvous

Later on several WINs Drove out to The Bunker Bar. Located just North of Line Tree BLM at 6942 N Thirsty Lizard Rd. According to Bob Pearson there ought to be a sign on the road leading to The Bunker bar and restaurant.  “Much easier than getting to the Desert Bar.” Although this new destination bar did not require transport by 4 x 4’s and was serving up ice-cold brews, tasty food from Niko’s Grill and Pub, the WIN’s were not as enthusiastic about the place as when they had visited the Desert Bar while camped at Quartzite which is run along a similar, quirky, off-grid, wilderness concept. The fact the band was not playing dance music may have coloured their impressions somewhat.

For those who would like to check it out and maybe have a better experience you don’t need to go off-roading, take the I 95 to Havasu Heights Rd. Then make an immediate right onto the dirt road adjacent to I 95 and follow it for 2.5 miles.

Here are the coordinates: N34°37.90 W114°17.83 

The Bunker Bar is a remote, off grid location featuring obsolete military paraphernalia.
The WINs love to dance, generally neither the cold or the hour would deter them but they were not impressed by the band playing that particular day. Photo Robert Pearson

Sunday, February 5th, dawned bright and sunny, the South Westerly wind brought a welcome respite from the chilly Northerlies that had been blowing since we arrived. Many WINs met up at the London Bridge Swap Meet which has developed into a Market with lots of vendors: from pottery to pants, homes to hot tubs and many more things besides, brand new things but still some private stalls with used goods too. We were careful to use a ‘dog rack’ or hire a towed ‘vehicle’ for our dogs according to the strict rules at the site!

Molly is legal riding with Roy in her ‘back rack’
Ozzie is characteristically calm riding in his towed vehicle. Photo: Jody Johnsson

Monday 6th February

We were treated to a great drive up into the mountains North of Lake Havasu City and enjoyed discovering a modern day gold mine, in the town of Oatman which, despite its remote location attracts thousands of visitors and boasts a quality offering with many original, quality and quirky products on offer at the many stores. With a population of 200 permanent residents, the town is far from a ‘Ghost Town’. Indeed, state of the art prospecting technologies may bring it a new lease of life.
It was reported in Vancouver, BC, May 31st, 2022 that the Elevation Gold Mining Corp. announced that it had secured a diamond core drill rig and expected to commence drilling focused primarily on the Florence Hill exploration. But that additional drill testing of the nearby fault-hosted Silver Creek Springs and West Oatman epithermal vein would be carried out. So they may yet find Gold in them their hills, bringing modern prospectors to ‘the town that refuses to die’!

Oatman town has its origins in a real life drama.

The name Oatman was chosen in honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who was captured and enslaved by Indians, probably from the Tolkepayas tribe, during her pioneer family’s massacre while on their journey westward in 1851. She was later sold or traded to the Mohave people, who adopted her and tattooed her face in the custom of the tribe. She was released in 1856 at Fort Yuma.[4]

In modern day Oatman, the WINs arrived just in time to witness a bank heist, the perpetrator approached the ‘All The Money’ (ATM) machine and demanded cash with menaces.

The teller was not cooperative, so the gangster went indoors to make his withdrawal.
The thieves fell out resulting in a quickdraw demonstration for the
audience of visitors including many WINs. No one was harmed and we all adjourned to the Hotel for lunch.

Photo: Misty Harding

Tuesday 7th February was the long awaited Topock Gorge Jet Boat Tour

Photo: laughlinboattours.com

The Havasu WINs mustered at the Ferry Terminal on London Bridge quayside and embarked aboard the ‘Starship 2010’, a ’47 custom built shallow draft vessel with a climate controlled cabin, an open back deck area and even a snack bar on board. They set a course navigating across the north basin of the Lake, into the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and headed up to Topock Gorge.  

Photo: Misty Harding

There were 3,000 year old Indian petroglyphs and interesting rock formations to see. The vessel slowed to idle speed as the crew talked about the history of the area. From Indian legends and early explorers to stories of how paddle wheelers made the difficult journey upstream to supply army camps and eventually carry out gold and silver ore before the present day dams were built.

During our stay at Lake Havasu City the The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has been particularly helpful offering Mail receipt services as well as, most importantly for RV’rs the perfect water and dump facilities in a superbly clean environment, with easy access, simple operation and low cost to Elk members. 

Several Elk members and their guests were very happy to support the the Lodge  for evening Specials, during our stay, with nearly everyone dining there for Ribs Night on Wednesday 8th February.

Photo: Earl Acklin

The restaurant is very well run, even though the venue filled up soon after 4 pm everyone received a generous plate of Ribs in good time, the meat just fell off the bone, perfectly cooked. It was just as well the WINs had reserved a table in advance! The ‘Elkettes’ came round with the desert trolly at regular intervals, and those who could, after the filling main dish, were able to round off their meal with something sweet from a huge selection. 
Fortunately, there was great music afterwards, no doubt many were happy for the opportunity to take to the floor and dance off the extra calories!
We wish the friendly members all the best with their fundraising and expansion programmes, and would not be surprised if they will soon become the largest Elks Lodge in the U.S. even surpassing Hawaii!

Thursday 9th of February found a good number of WINs enjoying a tour and tasting at the Copper Still Distillery appropriately located in the Easystreet Industrial Center, Lake Havasu City. This is a truly local micro brewery, conceived by some friends on a day out boating on the Lake and nurtured over time. Particularly with head distiller Andy who introduced business partner Roy to his surprisingly good Root Beer Moonshine. ‘Several shots later’ the decision was made to take Andy’s hobby to the next level, Copper Still Distillery was born, a partnership between business savvy Roy and passionate brewer Andy.

The WINs were also surprised on arriving at the distillery for the tour, not all of them were into Whisky, but when they tasted the surprisingly good liquor, they stayed for the great mixers! 

Photo: June Hormel

On Friday night February 10th a few WINs from the Western winter circuit were out enjoying the desert north of lake Havasu city. With a wonderful potluck hosted by June and Greg. Which was a great success. Special Thanks to June and Greg for a job well done! 

Photo: Earl Aklin

Sunday 12th Feb was Super Bowl Party Night in Loco’s Bar and Cocina on the London Bridge Road in Lake Havasu, and what a Super Bowl!!! If the first three quarters were a bit lightweight and bland compared to the Mexican Menu, Three touchdowns in the last six minutes and thirteen seconds rated a hot four taco salads without a doubt. Especially if you factor in Jimmy Garoppolo’s late-game performance!

Photo: Peter Letswaard

This concludes the report of the first two weeks at Lake Havasu City, for the WIN Newsletter. It does not include all the activities that individuals or groups enjoyed, but was evidently more than enough for the monthly Newsletter. After submission, I learned that only between 250 and 400 words were required, so it is likely that only a small part of what you read here would be used. But no work is ever wasted, as on hearing this I decided to resurrect my blog and publish it in full here.

If you would like to know more about the WIN organisation, see their website – RVsingles.org or their facebook page, ‘Wandering Individuals Network.

Photos not credited are generally my own but if I have used your photo and not credited you please let me know.

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