We were finally settled in Lake Havasu City. It took a few days, but we got everything organized in the new camper.
We had a few more days off until we went back to work, so we decided to explore the area. Lake Havasu was a pretty small city compared to what I was used to in Nashville, but it a had nice beaches around the lake, beautiful mountain views all around the city, and gorgeous, vibrant sunsets.
We also wanted to explore the surrounding cities, so we decided to take a trip up to Bullhead City where we stopped for lunch and talked about spending the day shooting guns in the desert. The former owner of our camper was telling us we could shoot anywhere in the desert as long as we were more than 1 mile from any occupied building. And we found out that the state of AZ has a constitutional carry law, which means I didn’t need to have a permit or license to shoot. So we got out of the city and headed west toward Golden Valley, where we had passed a lot of open land on our way to look at the camper a few days prior.
Well I was following Mike and Mike was following his GPS…
His GPS led us down a road…
Which turned into a primitive road…
while we were on motorcycles…
The dirt road still had a name on a street sign, so we figured it would turn back into a paved road shortly. 11 MILES AND 1 HOUR LATER! We finally got through it and came out to a paved road on top of a mountain. I was so relieved. Until I noticed Mike kept glancing back at his rear tire. Then I noticed his back tire was flat. Completely flat. There was nothing we could do except ride slow down the curvy mountain roads and wait for a tow truck somewhere. The only person we knew in the area was the former owner of our camper. So we headed back to his house to see if we could wait there until the tow truck driver was able to get to us. We made it, and thankfully he didn’t mind and welcomed us into his home. We got the tow and finally made it home late that night. Needless to say, we didn’t get to shoot guns in the desert that day.
Over the next few weeks, we were getting more settled in Havasu. We met some friends at the campground. I had started work at the hospital. Mike found a job unloading trucks at Harbor Freight. We grilled out every night. Had a few outdoor movie nights on the projector screen that Mike hung from the roof of the camper. Bought an inflatable raft to get out on the lake. And hiked a few times at Sara Park.
By this time, it was already Thanksgiving. Since Mike and I weren’t going to be home for a traditional holiday, we decided to go to the Nautical bar and restaurant right on the water to watch boats go by. We stayed almost all day and by the end had made friends with the bartenders.
The following week we rented a car and drove down to Phoenix to look for a truck. Because there are several different types of truck campers, each camper has it’s own requirements. Our camper required either a short-bed or flat-bed and at least a 3/4 ton to safely carry the load. Our additional requirements were 4×4, manual stick shift, low mileage, and staying within our budget. We had been searching for the last month and finally found one on craigslist that fit our needs. On Dec. 1, we came back with a 1996 F-350 4×4 flatbed truck with 140,000 miles on it. The next day, we were finally able to explore the desert.
We even saw a few wild desert donkeys.
We got the truck just in time to drive up to Vegas the next weekend for the George Strait concert. We loaded up the camper, made it to the concert, lucked out on 2 free upgraded seats on the first floor, and slept in the camper for free in the Circus Circus parking lot.
The next day on the way home, we drove through the Red Rock Canyon scenic loop and to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam.
The following week was dedicated to Mike teaching me how to drive our truck with the manual stick shift. He picked me up everyday from work and drove me to parks around town to practice. A week later I was finally comfortable enough to drive on the road, but the traffic still made me a bit nervous. So we waited until after dark one night when not many people were out, and I drove us to Wal-Mart a few miles down the road. We just went in to browse, but ended up goofing off and having fun…
A few more weeks went by and we continued making friends around town. A few of us ended up at The Desert Bar, which you can only get to by 5 miles of primitive road in Parker, AZ. And Fox’s Floating Bar down the road, where everyone staples dollar bills to the ceiling.
We also found a camping spot in the desert. We had dinner and breakfast over the fire and finally got to shoot some targets.
On Christmas day, we went hiking to the top of Lizard Peek Mountain and later went to our friends house for dinner.
New Years Day, we watched the Buckeye’s and met friends downtown.
A few weeks later, a good friend of mine from Nashville came out to visit. We got out on our friends boat and watched hundreds of hot air balloons launch at the same time at the Havasu Hot Air Balloon festival. And we attended Buses by the Bridge, which is the largest VW bus show in the U.S.
The next weekend we attended my first rodeo! There was horse and bull-riding, barrel racing, calf roping, and Whiplash- the monkey riding a dog.
We also made it to the Parker 425 off-road desert race. We drove our truck right up front and put our flatbed to use.
By the next week, I was done with my first travel assignment! I worked at the hospital for 13 weeks and just hoped I’d made some impact in my patients’ lives.
So we had one more weekend in town before we planned to head home to visit. It had been 6 months already!
It was Super Bowl weekend. My team, the Bengals, didn’t make it to the Super Bowl so I supported my friends and cheered on the Patriots.
After the weekend, we spent a few days organizing and packing everything back up.
On our last day, we said goodbye to all of our friends in town. We had only been in Havasu for 3 short months, but we were able to make so many good, lifelong friends. But our family and friends back home were anxiously waiting for us to visit, and we were excited to see them.