Friday, August 19, 2011

Road Trip: Joshua Trees - London Bridge

We woke up this morning to beautiful blue skies at the Holiday Inn Express in Tehachapi, CA.  A brand new hotel, our room and bathroom were huge and immaculate, the beds comfy, and there was a buffet breakfast included.  A nice surprise since we pulled in at 10:00 pm!  The breakfast buffet had the usual fare: hard boiled eggs, muffins, cereal, juices, fruit, and this pancake machine.
I had never seen one before so I had to share it with you.  It claimed to make a pancake in 45 seconds!  So I toasted my English muffin, got some juice and coffee, and waited for someone to come along who wanted a pancake for breakfast so I could see how it worked.  A beautiful young girl, about ten years old, with big brown eyes and thick curly hair came in and pushed the button.  I asked her if it was ok if I took a picture of her pancake.  She replied, "No English".  So I said, "Espanol?" and she said "French". And then the first pancake came out!
I told her I spoke a little French and we had a short conversation, the second pancake came out and we said, "Au Revoir!"  Who would have thought I would meet a little French girl at  Holiday Inn in the desert?  But the machine was pretty cool - I thought about all the pancakes I made while the boys were young and how convenient this machine would have been!

So we got back on the road and headed across the desert . . .

 We saw a windmill farm and more desert . . .

I was getting worried as the closest thing I saw to shabby chic was this shabby Joshua Tree in a small town named Bodon.  Evidently, Bodon is the birthplace of Borax - you know, the cousin to Comet, the powder cleanser?!  Now you KNOW there wasn't much out in the desert since I'm blogging about Borax!!

 And, if you are really inspired you can visit the Borax Museum to learn all about Borax!  I thought about going in - maybe they had a gift shop?!  Mike and I decided we wanted to spend our time learning about something else so we continued on down the road.

It started looking pretty bleak as the Mojave desert never seemed to end and the gas gauge declared 50 miles remaining.  After checking our GPS we figured out we had 49 miles to go before we got to the next diesel station. It was only 108 degrees outside when we discovered we wouldn't make it with the gas in our truck and didn't feel like walking, so we pulled into the first rest stop in 70 miles and got the five gallon gas can out that Mike had brought along in case of emergency - Thank the Lord!

Ah water!  When we got to the diesel station in Needles, it was 114 degrees and the diesel was $4.99 a gallon!  They have you over a barrel because it is the first place in miles for a fill-up and virtually every single car and truck got off  the highway in Needles!  We only put about 20 gallons in the truck because we planned on stopping in Lake Havasu City and we figured we would fill up all the way then.  We crossed the Colorado River into Arizona and we had to stop at the truck scales since we were a commercial vehicle.

 As our luck would have it,  it was the first day on the job for the officer at the truck scales so you guessed it! She asked for every single piece of paper that was possible: vehicle license, trailer license, Mike's Class A license, proof of insurance, US DOT number, and a "trip pass" or permit from the State of Arizona in order to pass through the state.  We had everything but the 'trip pass' and what should have taken a seasoned officer about a minute and a half of paperwork ended up taking a half hour - she had to call her supervisor over since she had never filled out one of the forms!  We thought about axing our side trip to Lake Havasu City, since it was about 20 miles off the highway but I am sure glad we didn't!

We had heard the story of the guy who moved the London Bridge, stone by stone from over the Thames River in England to Arizona, and since we were so close we had to go see it!  One of the founders of Lake Havasu City bought the bridge for $2.4 million and then spent $4.5 million to move it to Arizona and rebuild it in Lake Havasu!

We drove over the bridge just to say we did and then parked our 'ride' and got out to take pictures.  There is a whole English Tudor type tourist town built around the base of the bridge, which is weird to see in the middle of a desert!  But the bridge is beautiful!

This was my favorite view - you could see the Colorado River, complete with ski boats and vacationers, and the rocky hills, through this arch.

 The lamp posts along the sides of the bridge are the original ones as well and have elaborate lamps atop each one. 

 This is the statue of the founders - there is a plaque at the base of the statue that tells the story about the bridge and the move. After the bridge, we had just one more stop which I wanted to visit.

The current issue of Romantic Homes Magazine has a feature article entitled "Sweet Shop".  The article was about a store called "Bella" that had expanded and now sold cupcakes as well as European decor and was in - Lake Havasu City!
"Bella" is located about two city blocks from the London Bridge so it was easy to find.  I walked in and introduced myself to Anita, one of the owners.  Her 7th grade daughter was sitting behind the counter working on homework.  I told her I had seen her store in the magazine and she was thrilled!  Then she said, "You drove all the way here from Highway 40 just to see my store? Wow! Do you need a drink of water? Can I get you a cupcake?"  

She had added "The Cupcake Cafe" to her shop when lots of her customers liked to hang around the sop.  Anita was delightful and we talked about retail stores, running a shop, her expansion, etc. and I asked if I could take some pictures.  About that time, Mike came in after visiting the ice cream shop a few doors down, and Anita offered him a drink as well and told him he was a saint to build his wife a box to transport 'treasures'!  He sat down in her Cupcake Cafe and they continued to talk while I set out to work, or should I say, shop and take pics!

I plan to feature her whole shop in a separate posting later but here is a sneek peek!  Anita does a great job setting up vignettes in creative ways.

One display I loved was this one: she used a cupcake holder to display her bangle bracelets - combining both aspects of her business!

Another favorite was her cupcake Christmas tree that stays up year round in her "Cupcake Cafe".  Anita had excellent customer service and her energy is infectious!  Visiting her store and meeting her was one of the highlights of the day and if you are ever in Lake Havasu City - go by, introduce yourself, and prepare to have a lot of fun!

We said our good byes and got back on the road - about this time the sun was getting low and the colors of the southwest were getting more intense.  The warm oranges and reds on this rocky precipice grabbed my attention.

As the sun went down, the sky was full of pinks, blues and wispy white clouds -

Our goal was to get to Flagstaff tonight.  We had about an hour to go and we were getting hungry so we stopped in the next town to get some vittles!  As we pulled off the highway and passed the Historic Route 66 Hotel, we realized we were on the old road and passed a sign that said "Roadkill Cafe ahead".  We looked at each other as said, "We have to go!"  My mind raced - what would be on the menu - jackrabbit goulash?  rattlesnake pie?  

Unfortunately when we got there it was closed! But across the old Route 66 road was a little diner called "Westside Lilo's" and there were lots of cars in the lot so we pulled in.  The diner had a pair of murals on the outside - the one above welcomes travelers in German because they serve great schnitzel and you can order sauerkraut as a side with any order!  And this smaller one . . .
I know it is famous for its German food but I had a refreshing Grilled Chicken Salad that was fresh grilled with a great blend of spices, that did NOT come from Costco!  Mike had one of the three nightly 'specials' a Mexican food plate he enjoyed as well.  The diner was full when we left at 9 pm! I recommend a stop there is you are ever in the area! We got to Flagstaff at exactly 10 pm - wearing a full day of 118 degree sweat and road grease. We took our showers, and Mike retired.  I plan on doing the same as soon as I am done with this post! Albuquerque or bust tomorrow!

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