Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beautiful Lake Havasu

Here we are in Lake Havasu – home of the famous London Bridge, and of course the beautiful blue waters for which the lake was named.

After departing Las Vegas on Sunday (a little bit poorer and a lot more tired!), we took a leisurely drive to Lake Havasu, which was only 2-hours away. Terry had booked us into the Lake Havasu RV Resort, a new resort with full ownership lots. It has very nice amenities, including a clubhouse, pool, hot tub, etc.

The resort is very different from others we have seen – they sanction the building of casitas of varying size (depending upon the size of your lot). Some of these casitas are very elaborate, and house such amenities as washer, dryer, full bathroom with shower, day bed, outdoor cooking area with bar and full screen tvs! We took advantage of their ‘5-days free but sit through a 90-minute info session on the benefits of ownership in the park’ offer - what the heck!

After getting set up, we pretty much called it an early night (trying to get back on track after Vegas!).

On Monday, we took a cruise around parts of the city, which included a stop to let Terry ‘dip his toes’ into the lake (yes, it’s cold). We wound our way up the hillside, noting the many, many ‘For Sale’ signs and just as many ‘For Rent’ signs on homes. We found ourselves in a new development set way up in the hillside, and linked up with a realtor, who offered to show us a number of foreclosures the next day.

From there, we made it to the London Bridge, and stopped for some ‘pub grub’ at the Barley Brother’s Brew Pub nearby. I fell in love with their Tripleberry Wheat beer – yum!! This is probably the best beer I have ever had (really).

Tuesday, we had planned to get up for a run, but the wind was gusting so hard we decided to give it a miss. We linked up with our nice realtor lady, who toured us around many different areas of the city, checking out foreclosures fitting the criteria we had provided her with the day before.

Wow – a lot of great bargains out there right now. We toured some dogs, but there were also some amazing deals – we looked at a brand new, 2000 sq. ft. 3 bedroom/2 bath home with a huge kitchen/granite countertops, 2-car garage and full RV garage, large (undeveloped) lot for $249k. I’m quite sure if you offered $200k the bank would take it.

The downturn in the economy is very evident in Lake Havasu. Obvious signs are the number of foreclosures, and the overall number of houses advertised for sale. So many of these homes are ‘second homes’ for seasonal owners. When times are tough, the first thing to go is the second home. So many were on the market a lot of people have given up, and are advertising their home for rent, which has the rental market saturated as well. I’m quite sure that, come January, we’ll see a lot of those rentals on the foreclosure list.

The buildings are very unique here as well – architectural styles typical to the southwest, but a large number with stairs leading up to balconies on the roof or over a carport to take advantage of lake views. Houses ‘on the lake’ don’t happen here, which is also very different, and a little surprising. However, with native land making up a large portion and government-owned as well, that does deter this type of development.

The city planning itself seems to follow the ‘dog’s breakfast’ approach – you find new houses mixed in with old wrecks, and residential areas mixed into industrial areas. I’m not sure what kind of long-term plan they were going for, but it is odd. (Take all of this with a grain of salt - as this is just how I perceived things.)

On the upside, they have a brand new shopping mall, but at this point there are minimal stores open, with the exception of their anchor stores (Walmart, J.C. Penny, Pet Smart, etc.). I'll be curious to see if more stores are open on our drive back in the spring.

On Wednesday (beautiful day – no more wind!), we crossed the London Bridge and parked on the island so we could go for a run on the paved pathway system. We rushed back to sit through our obligatory 90-minute sales pitch on the benefits of ownership in the park. Thankfully, it was no pressure, and actually very informative. The park is nice, but we are not in the market at this point.

We met up with our friendly realtor lady again to tour a few more homes (two side-by-side condos, 3 bedroom/2 bathroom, 2-car garage, one with full RV garage for $319k - for both).

We wanted to rent a boat so we could tour the lake one day, so headed down to the bridge where a number of boat rental companies were located on the water. The area around the bridge is set up as an olde English village (surprise!), however, apparently the city and business owners had some issues, which resulted in a great number of these businesses (restaurants, clothing stores, souvenir shops, etc.) sitting empty. It is a real shame, as this doesn’t help the ‘sinking ship’ atmosphere that hangs over the city as a result of the U.S. economy in general (maybe that statement is a little harsh - if we were here for the two whole months of spring break madness we may have a completely different view of this place).

We found one of the rental companies open, and booked a pontoon boat for Thursday (not before the gentleman tried to sell us his house). We also followed the walking path along the waterfront and enjoyed the sunset.

With the sun going down, the golden beach and palm trees in the foreground and the almost volcanic mountains in the background, it reminded us a lot of hawaii!

We happened upon a remote-controlled dune buggy track. It was hilarious watching these things fly around the track. They flew through the air, flipped and crashed into each other - what a blast! We hung out and watched for quite a while.

From there, off to another local brew pub – the Mudshark – to take advantage of their cheap wing night and home brews – great!

Thursday promised to be a nice day (mid-60’s and sun), so we were happy to have booked the boat. We packed a lunch, dressed in layers, and headed out for our tour of the lake.

I won’t kid you – flying across the lake was COLD (that’s me in the picture all bundled up). But the scenery made up for the chill in the air. There were very few boats on the water - primarily anglers. The fishing looked great, as we saw some really big fish jumping out of that water!

We first headed north, as our realtor had told us about the ‘sand bar, which was a point of interest.

It was beautiful – just like the Caribbean.

From there, we headed back south and toured quite a distance, stopping at a beautiful emerald bay for lunch, and a bit of a hike.

Across the lake on the California side, there are a few settlements where you can stop for gas, beer, lunch, etc. There's even a casino (pretty sad looking after just coming from Vegas, but it appeared to be popular - there is a boat that makes regular runs from London Bridge to the casino and back all day and into the evening every day).

We had to try out the golfing in the city, so booked a tee-time at the London Bridge golf course for 10:40 a.m. We were paired up with a really nice couple (Bud and Colleen) from Wyoming. They lived in a condo along the course, and were members of the golf club.

They started the day by telling us how they had warned their last golfing partners not to hit their condo, which is located along the 18th hole. Of course, one of the couple did (no harm done though). We laughed at the story, and carried on our game. When we came to the 18th hole, Bud immediately fired one off right into the condo development. We heard a very loud ‘bang, and could only presume the worst. He teed up another one, and did the exact same thing! Then, we saw his neighbor come out, yelling and waving. Turns out Bud’s shot hit his trailer and left quite a big dent. This was lucky, as he could just as easily have hit the back window of the Audi parked behind it! Fortunately, the neighbor bore no grudge, other than to request payment in the form of a whiskey.

For those of you unaware, the full moon on Friday night was a notable one. The moon was 28,000 km closer to the earth, and appeared 14 times larger, and 30 times brighter than usual. This was the biggest and brightest full moon in 15 years! The next time this will occur is November 14, 2016.

How did we acknowledge this? We walked up to the clubhouse, drinks in hand, and soaked in the 20-man hot tub – just us two. The night sky was beautiful, and the moon didn’t disappoint us.

Today was a working day for the both of us. I worked on paying bills online, catching up on assorted paperwork and filing, while Terry worked diligently on his ‘garage’. I have not yet seen it, as he is keeping it a surprise from me until he has finished it. Can’t wait to see it ….

The weather here (and basically most places around us) is taking a turn for the worse. They are talking rain and temperatures in the low to mid-50’s! Yikes! Terry and I have been discussing bumping up our travel plans to cross the border into Mexico sooner than we had planned. We may be celebrating Christmas with margaritas on the beach – but we’ll keep you posted.

Here are a couple of pictures of the bridge lit up at night, and a shot of the 'Dixie Belle', a paddlewheeler that does tours around the island.

This is another shot of the lake, and of the beautiful hills lit up by the setting sun.

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