Sunday, May 20, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED IN LAKE HAVASU

I got up early enough the next morning to practice my horn (with my Silent Brass to keep from waking up most of the hotel denizens) and have breakfast before we left Laughlin for Lake Havasu.  I  left my horn in the hotel so my seat on the bus was minimally less cramped than the drive to Laughlin the day before.
When we arrived in Lake Havasu, we were in an area that looked as if it had been a giant dirt lot that now was decorated with booths of every variety, a stage and performers, and in the middle, a lot of trucks that were apparently the haulers of the hot air balloons. We got off the bus, and it was cold and windy; I walked around with the woman I'd met on the bus and we investigated the different booths, bought a few balloon-focused items and other things.  The vendors were friendly and talkative, and the day went fairly quickly.  As we approached dinner time, it became apparent from the wild waves on the lake and the heavy, wintry wind blowing that no balloons were going to be launched, and they announced that instead they would have a Ring of Fire, where all the balloonists would burn off their fuel in bursts of flame. 
They had various groups playing music, and a DJ as well, and as I was sitting before dinner, trying to stay warm, I glanced at a nearby bench and saw a friend whom I had known many years ago through World Wide Marriage Encounter, before we were both widowed.  At that moment, "I'll Never Find Another You" by The Seekers
came on, which was played at the end of every World Wide Marriage Encounter Weekend when we were active in WWME.  Both of us had tears in our eyes, and the bond between us grew even stronger.
Once the sun had set, the Ring of Fire began, and it was a spectacular sight as the balloonists set off their fuel in towering pillars of flame, synchronizing the burning of the fuel to the music, or in patterns of fire alternating around the circle.  
As we left the grounds, we crossed over the London Bridge, which had been moved here to Arizona years ago, brick by numbered brick.  It was an amazing sight, a bit of London here in the desert of the Southwest. In the early 1960s, English officials discovered that the Bridge was sinking into the River Thames one inch every eight years.It looked as if the granite bridge built in the 19th century would be headed for the junkyard, but Robert McCulloch, an American entrepreneur, was persuaded to buy it as the centerpiece for Lake Havasu City, where he had previously bought thousands of acres of land aiming to make it a tourist oasis.  
The gamble paid off: in 1974, the town's population had grown from a few hundred to over 10,000, and seen nearly two million visitors to the iconic Bridge. I was glad to have seen the Bridge; in the evening light, it was a striking monument to the beauty of English design and American entrepreneurship and ingenuity.