Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A very famous bridge


Does this bridge look familiar to you? Some of you may have seen this very bridge when it was located in a very different place, in a different time. This is the famed London Bridge, which once spanned the Thames River in London and now makes its home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It now spans the Bridgewater Channel, a canal which runs between the Colorado River and Havasu Lake. The bridge was brought here stone by stone in the late 1960's, after it was discovered that the bridge was sinking at the rate of 1/8th inch per year in the Thames and was several inches higher at one end than the other. The bridge was originally erected in 1831, replacing several other versions dating back to the medieval era. By the early 1960's, it was clear that it could not withstand modern automobile traffic. London officials decided to tear it down and an entrepreneur brought it Arizona. The story is fascinating and you can read more here and here.

We visited Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge on our trip to Arizona. I knew the bridge had been relocated to Arizona somewhere, but didn't know much about it otherwise. We spent the first leg of our trip with the Bear's uncle and aunt in the northwestern part of Arizona, where they live. They suggested a trip to see the bridge and we all went together, two days after Christmas. It was so interesting!


You can drive on local highways to reach the London Bridge, but we went on a boat, the London Jet. The Bear's uncle and aunt generously treated us to tickets for a guided boat tour, which included a two-hour layover in Lake Havasu City, where we ate lunch. To take the boat tour, we had to first drive from Kingman, Arizona, where our relatives live, to Laughlin, Nevada, about an hour away. I'd never been in Nevada before, so that was exciting enough for me. This waterway sort of weaves between Nevada and Arizona, with little bits of California here and there too. Laughlin has a lot of gaming and casinos, and the boat picks up and drops off its passengers on the shore of the Colorado River behind the casinos and hotels. We boarded and disembarked at the Edgewater Casino, where we had left our car, and there are several other stops along the same shore.


The London Jet is owned and operated by this man, Joe, and his wife, Jenny. They travel up and down the river every day offering a guided tour of the area. They pointed out lots of interesting features, such as rock formations and petroglyphs. I was impressed to learn that Joe had built the boat himself, in his garage. The six of us made up the largest group on the boat; there were only about eight other people besides us, so there was plenty of room and the kids had great window seats both ways. The boat ride was close to two hours each way.


Children are required to wear life vests on the boat and these two didn't mind one bit. It only made the trip more exciting for them. This was the first real boat trip either of them had ever taken. They were able to walk around the boat and they switched seats often. The Bear's uncle and aunt enjoyed pointing things out to them. They don't have children of their own, but they're awesome with kids and our two love spending time with them.


One of the most interesting things about the boat ride was the chance to see the luxurious houses and condominiums on the shores of the river. Many of them were huge and beautiful, with private docks and swimming areas. It must be a really nice place to vacation, but it gets very hot there. I'm not sure I'd survive.



The rock formations were fascinating. We were able to stand at the back of the boat once it got up to speed, and from there we had an incredible view of the river and the land on both sides. Joe and Jenny pointed out ancient petroglyphs on some of these formations. I don't have good photos of them, but one in particular caught my eye. It was a tiny drawing of the sun, very simple but instantly recognizable.


You know that scene in Titanic when Rose is getting ready to jump, and Jack is going in after her, and she says he's crazy and he says something like, "With all due respect, ma'am, I'm not the one hanging off the back of a ship"? That scene kept going through my mind when these two took to the deck to look at the scenery. Okay, I was being paranoid, but they made me nervous. Fortunately, that gate opened inward. They loved every second.


Finally, we approached Lake Havasu City, which has numerous resorts and tourist attractions on both sides of the Bridgewater Channel. This photo shows the miniature English village which was built around the same time that the bridge was relocated from London. The other side of the channel is built up with restaurants and shops too. 


The fabled old London Bridge surrounded by palm trees! This was the view from our table in the restaurant where we ate lunch. It was a brew-pub kind of place. The Bear and I shared a margherita-style pizza. We only had two hours to explore the bridge and it surroundings, so we didn't linger over lunch for long. The kids were antsy after the long boat ride too. We ate lunch and hit the bridge!


Two squinty Bears on the bridge. You can walk across the bridge in both directions, or you can drive. We walked, obviously, having arrived on a boat. Apparently, there had recently been a car accident on the bridge, where a guy rammed into the side rails. You could see where it was boarded up with wood from the English village side of the river. It seemed a little risky to be walking on the bridge, actually, even though there was a designated footpath. But we made it without incident and it was pretty exciting to be walking across the actual London Bridge!


The English village side of the river was cute. All the buildings were modeled after old-fashioned English buildings, like this vaguely Tudor-style one. The village is quaint but a little run-down. We only went in a few shops; they were the typical boardwalk-type places, selling keychains, shot glasses and t-shirts. There were some food stands open, selling hot chocolate, but most shops and stands were closed for the winter season. We had just enough time to walk around a little, checking out the underside of the bridge and the places where bombs had hit it during World War II. You can actually see the damage on the stones, which is really interesting. The bridge was reassembled here exactly as it was on the Thames. I've really enjoyed thinking about all the history this bridge has seen. 




Soon, it was time to meet the London Jet boat for our trip back up the river to Laughlin. We were tired and a little sunburned. There was another long, loud boat ride ahead of us. The small Bears were sleepy and they rested their heads on the adults sometimes, walked around a little and stretched out on the bench seats. There were blankets to wear on the boat and they took advantage. We got off the boat and drove back to Kingman for a late dinner and an early bedtime. We were staying in a motel there for a couple of nights and the small Bears were sharing a bed. They both talked about the boat and the bridge literally until they fell asleep, each drifting off mid-sentence. They had a great time and so did we. I'm so glad we all had the chance to see this historic bridge and its unexpected and beautiful new surroundings in the desert.

42 comments:

  1. As usual I loved reading about your family outing ! The pictures of the small bears faces and the descriptions you give are wonderful . You even had me remembering when I was a small child and we would stay at motel when we traveled. My sister and I would talk ourselves to sleep with excitement from the days ventures ( well after arguing over who got what side of the bed ) lol .

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  2. What a memorable day out - it looks as if it were great fun, especially being able to take the boat ride. x

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  3. That must have been a perfect family trip !!
    Ps you have two utterly adorable little bears ! Such cute photos !!

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  4. What an amazing trip. It must have been fascinating to see London bridge in its new location and a great boat ride getting there. Some treasured memories.

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  5. This sounds like a really fun boat tour! Seeing the rock formations would be fascinating to me. We went to London years ago, and I remember reading that the bridge had been relocated, but couldn't remember where. And you found it!! I'm a little disappointed that they don't close off the bridge to cars. It would be cool to have shops all across the bridge like in the old days (not sure if the shops were on this bridge or its predecessor). Thanks for sharing your trip! Wendy x

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  6. Such beautifully clear photos Jennifer - so glad you've been able to enjoy a little piece of London !
    Happy New Year to you all, Kate xx

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  7. Beautiful photos Jennifer. I honestly didn't know those facts about the bridge. Amazing!

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  8. I knew London Bridge had gone to the US but I didn't know where so I've learnt something from your post. I think it looks just right where it is now.

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  9. I had no idea that the London bridge was brought to Arizona!!! I so enjoy learning new bits!! And how beautiful are those rock formations!!! Just stunning! So glad your bears got a first rate your!! Happy week to you Jennifer!!! Nicole xo

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  10. Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for dropping by my blog that I rarely update. It's nice to hear from you. I enjoyed reading about your visit to the London Bridge. It looks a bit chilly (esp. in Hawaii standards) but you captured amazing photos of your adventure and it definitely looks fun. I feel like I'm right there with you. I look forward to many more exciting times with you. Happy New Year!

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  11. Happy New Year, Jennifer. I really enjoyed this post! I felt as though I was there with you all. I really miss Arizona, so I really enjoyed every detail.

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  12. The old bridge holds special memories for me. I used to live near it in London until I was 4 and used to go for walks on it with my parents. That was where I learned the nursery rhyme "London Bridge is falling down". I never knew it was true!

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  13. Great to see the bridge in its new location. I bet it's happier there, palm trees and all..

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  14. I remember hearing about this bridge as a child it was good to see it in it's new location! The boat ride looks great too! Sarah x

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  15. What a fun mid-winter trip to see the London Bridge.. on a BOAT no less! Everyone looked like they were having a good time. My favorite parts were the beautiful clean water and the desert cliffs. I love boating! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  16. London bridge is falling down....
    I knew it had gone to America, but I haven't ever seen pictures of it. How fascinating to cross London Bridge in the USA!! I'm off to the proper London Bridge in April so I shall happily think of you when I do!

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  17. Fascinating... I knew that the bridge was dismantled and moved to America but I'd never really considered it's new home. Thank you for posting about it. Jx

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  18. So interesting!! How funny that you walked across London Bridge but in Arizona! Your pictures are beautiful, Jennifer, and really capture the atmosphere of your trip so nicely.
    Helen xox

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  19. I knew that London Bridge had gone to Arizona - how fascinating to see it in situ! :o)

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  20. How amazing - I knew the old London Bridge had relocated to America but had never thought to find out where. I'm so glad you had such a great trip and I have enjoyed seeing your family on a little piece of English history. x

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  21. What a fun day! I bet the boat ride was really fun. I love seeing blue skies and palm trees - thanks for sharing these lovely photos. The London bridge looks so cool!

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  22. I think I have a gap in my education somewhere!! I didn't know London bridge is now in America!! Love your posts and hearing about your family. I have finally posted my first blog today. (creativityandfamily). After months of just enjoying others I thought it was time I tried to give a bit back!

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  23. What a great thing to do on your holiday! You obviously all enjoyed it, I can tell the excitement in your writing voice as I read this. I imagine that the boat ride made seeing the bridge even more interesting than if you had just driven to visit it, especially as you say for the bears with their first real boat trip. Glad that you enjoyed it and had so much fun! xx

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  24. That looks like it was such a fun trip for everyone. The sky was SO blue and the little bears look as if they are having a wonderful time. I would love to visit the London Bridge. When I visited London the first time I thought the Tower Bridge was the London Bridge. I was soon corrected! It is a beautiful bridge. And to visit on a boat no less! How special is that? I'm glad you had such a wondful time Jennifer.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  25. That's so cool! How funny to see such a British structure in such exotic, desert-like surroundings. The scenery is breathtaking. I would definitely be on mansion-watch too. x

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  26. It is pretty amazing that they moved a bridge from one continent to another!
    Wonderful photos Jennifer. :)
    V x

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  27. I live about 30 mins from Lindon. Never knew London Bridge had been moved, much less to Arizona! Thankyou for educating me! Like others I learned the London Bridge is Falling Down nursery rhyme as a child but had no idea it was true ! And I can tell that the colour of your water is much nicer than the Thames!
    Jillxo

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  28. What a lovely day you seem to have had :) My husband's office is on the south bank of the Thames in London, between the new London Bridge and Tower Bridge. His former office was knocked down so The Shard could be built and was right on the south end of (new) London Bridge.

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  29. What a fun place to visit! I can't imagine how hard it would be to move a bridge - especially to another country!

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  30. A fabulous day out, Jennifer, and doesn't London Bridge look great in its desert home. I like the 'little London' they have built alongside, too. The rock formations are intriguing too, and it looks like the little bears are having a very interesting and enjoyable day.

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  31. In my travels through the southwest I never walked across the London Bridge, although I had heard that it had been moved across the pond, but I am so glad that you and your family did get to explore it and that you told us about your adventure, Jennifer. I admire your photos and your narrative, and I appreciated reading the link articles as well. I was surprised and saddened that the bridge has known its share of bloodshed, but am glad that it currently is in such a beautiful spot...although sorry that it got damaged by some vehicle! xx

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  32. Being a Londoner, it was great to read about London Bridge. I've heard the story about it going to Ameriac but never knew where it was. Thanks for sharing.

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  33. Well I just learned something new! I just had to get my friend to explain the difference between Tower Bridge and London bridge to me as I was wholly confused! It looks like you had a fabulous family day out, I love boat trips, and how fascinating for you to see a little bit of English history in Arizona! x

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  34. This post was really interesting!! You learn something new everyday - thank you! I absolutely love the photo of your children together on the boat, their expressions are so thoughtful! Glad you had such a lovely time, J9 x

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  35. What a wonderful trip, it must of been fascinating to the see the old bridge. Lovely post!

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  36. What a wonderful family outing! It was especially nice you were able to share it with extended family. I had no idea this bridge had been brought over to the US. Like you, I would have found the stones with the damage from WW2 bombs fascinating.

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  37. Very interesting post Jennifer it was lovely to read all about London bridge, what a great day out. :) x

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  38. I love our London Bridge, the new one, the old one and also the history of the old wooden London Bridge of Tudor England. Ooh I do love a bit of history. So glad you enjoyed your trip.
    Patricia x

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  39. What an interesting post, so cool to see the old London bridge surrounded by palm trees. Lovely photos of your family x

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  40. What fun to see London Bridge again, this time in its new location. I remember seeing it on a visit to London as a teenager in the 60s before it was dismantled and moved. Whenever I read or hear the words London Bridge I always think of the old nursery rhyme. At least it's not falling down any more. :)

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  41. What a fascinating story about London Bridge! And those rock formations are amazing. Looks like a gorgeous place to visit... x

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