The Breakfast Club 

The Knife & Fork

Breakfast Club Visits Chemehuevi Valley, London Bridge

By Warren McIlvoy
13 Apr 2002

The April event for the Breakfast Club was originally slated for Grand Canyon Western, but I had gotten some less that glowing reports and not much bang for you buck. So, with that information in mind, I addressed this issue with the Breakfast Club event committee. I mentioned to them, that one of our members had suggested two destinations along the Colorado River. One would be the new casino at Parker and another across the river from Lake Havasu City called Chemehuevi Valley (we later learned to pronounce it as chima-wavy). After visiting their web site at , we voted to change our scheduled fly-in to this location. I had scheduled an 0930 arrival since the restaurant did not open until 0900 PST but I did not realize that Daylight Savings time would have kicked-in just prior to our event date. So the worst thing that happened was that we did not have to get up at O-dark-thirty for an early launch.

Since it was a relatively short flight (an hour plus 10), I decided to take a more leisurely course via Wickenburg, direct to Alamo Lake, and then direct to 49X. Our selected altitude of 4500' was smooth with just a hint of a tail wind. Just shy of Wickenburg, I performed the ritual of announcing our presence on the air-to-air hotline of 123.45. There was only one or two other aircraft on frequency at this time, but what the heck, it was still early. As we neared our 2nd waypoint of Alamo Lake, we could hear other Breakfast Club aircraft reporting in. From this vantage point, I could clearly see Crossman Peak that is just east of Lake Havasu City.

As we came abeam Crossman Peak, I could see the sprawling metropolis of Lake Havasu City. When we first moved to Arizona some 31 plus years ago, Lake Havasu City was just a dot on the map, a dream of industrialist Robert P. McCulloch of chain saw fame. The following is an excerpt from the Arizona Tourism Guide:

Lake Havasu City

"This northwest desert town is located on the popular shores of Lake Havasu. Although the lake was created in 1938 by the construction of Parker Dam, the town was not established until 1963. Then, in the late 60's, business magnate Robert P. McCulloch dreamed up the extraordinary idea of bringing the London Bridge to Arizona. (Actually, this is but one of many London Bridges).

At the time, the famous British landmark was deteriorating and slowly sinking into the Thames River from heavy vehicular use. In a bold attempt to save this bit of history, the bridge was put on the market for sale to the highest bidder. McCulloch saw his chance and snapped it up for a mere $2.4 million dollars.

In the early 1970's, the bridge was taken apart, transported to America and reassembled on Lake Havasu-literally brick by brick. Four-digit numbers are still visible on many of the blocks. By the mid-1980's, tourists began flocking to Lake Havasu City to see the bridge and enjoy the now flourishing recreational areas.

Today, the town is a desert oasis populated with resorts, eclectic restaurants, golf courses and botanical gardens".

  • London Bridge: The 900-foot bridge is Lake Havasu City's main attraction. An English Village sits at its base and features a waterside promenade, shops, and restaurants.
  • Since the Lake Havasu City Airport is just north of town, I tuned-in the AWOS to get the conditions at that location and use that information for 49X. Besides the wind being reported as "calm", I got the altimeter setting to use for our landing. I passed that information along to the rest of the group and then tuned-in the CTAF for Chemehuevi Valley to listen for other traffic. Not hearing anything for several minutes, I selected left traffic for runway 16. BC-8 was setting-up for runway 34 but when he heard me call 16, he decided to follow me in. There is no taxiway on the airport but the turn-off was at mid field where there were already some early arrivals. It was about 0915 with our transportation scheduled to arrive at 0930. In the mean time, other Breakfast Club aircraft continued to arrive. By 0940 when the transportation failed to arrive, I called the Havasu Landing Resort to request transportation for those whom had already arrived. In about 10 minutes, two resort vans arrived to get us all to the resort. I informed our driver that there was at least one, maybe two aircraft that had yet to arrive. They told me that they would sent one van back to the airport after we disembarked at the resort.

    The Havasu Landings Resort & Casino is an unassuming place with a marina adjacent to the main building. There were several dozen boats in the slips (most likely all from the other side of the lake) but, like the brochure says, there are no rentals. On the parking lot side of the casino, there is an addition under construction that is again about 1/3 the size of the original structure. Our van driver said that this addition will be primarily for gaming with the existing gaming area, that is in the basement, facing renovation when the new section opens in about four weeks. The path to the dinning room passes the short stairway to the casino facilities and into a bright dinning room with the entire east wall being dominated by a sweeping vista of Lake Havasu. The shore line literally ends where the restaurant wall begins. The restaurant staff had arranged three rows of tables that afforded an outstanding view of the lake. The breakfast menu is not large by any means but does offer a variety of egg entrees. The one glaring omission on the menu, was the absence of any waffle or pancake entrees ( more commonly known as the "Asimov Special). I heard the waitress say something to the effect that those dishes were not very popular with the visitors to the resort. I don't know if it was the way that they prepared them or if it not popular with the clientele that would visit this location. The egg dishes were good and the prices were typical of any river resort location.

    After breakfast, some of us decided to take the tour boat ride across the lake to the London Bridge. It is about a 12-15 minute ride across the lake and is very relaxing on a warm day. The cool breeze streaming in through the open windows made me feel taking my shoes off and taking a nap. A few of the group choose to use the upper deck for some photo ops using the lake as a background. As we entered the channel that lead to the bridge, our speed dropped down to about 10 knots or so. We were in a long line of boats that was using the channel but there was an equal amount of boats going the other way to the lake. When the London Bridge was reconstructed at Lake Havasu, it was built on a section of dry land. When the bridge was completed, a channel was dug through this isthmus to form an "island" that used to house the original Lake Havasu City Airport. You can still see the runways from the air but there does not appear to have been much development on the old airport property itself. We exited the boat on the island side of the channel and ascended the stairs to the highway that crosses the bridge. There was some road repair work being done on the approaches to the bridge so there was only one lane open for traffic. The was a large bronze plaque installed into the rail along the sidewalk that was a sure fire photo op so I volunteered to take some pictures of the folks who came over with us on the boat.

    We walked across the bridge and then descended the stone stairs on the other side. The English Village dominates the promenade on either side of the bridge at the water level. The architecture is all Tudor with a variety of shops to attract the tourist or the unweary. We strolled along the riverbank taking advantage of the shade trees that lined the walk. There was every possible variety of boat either parked along the shore or plying with channel. If the boats were not enough to attract your attention, then the thong bikinis would surely provoke a serious case of eye strain. The task of watching where you were walking and checking out the scenery along the shore was more than the average person should be forced to bear. But standing and staring would be very obvious so the skill of walking rather slowly became the rule of the hour. After about 45 minutes of sightseeing, we headed back to the boat ramp for the trip back to the resort.

    We walked into the bar area of the resort and got some soft drinks for the trip back and summoned the van for the ride back to the airport. The wind that was calm in the morning, was now out of the north but still less than 10 knots. I departed runway 34 with a right turn to take us over the lake and took up a heading that would aim us into the direction of the bridge. From the air at 3000', the bridge is still an impressive site with the parade of boats adding to the idyllic scene. Climbing to 5500', I leveled-off and took a more direct course for Wickenburg. Now that the air had a chance to heat-up, the ride home was a lot more bumpy that the morning's leg to our destination. It seems that I had experienced a memory lapse of what summer time aviation was like in good ole Arizona. I guess that you take the good with the bad, sort of a "dues paying day". I am eagerly looking forward to collecting on some of those dues on our next outing.

    The Chemehuevi Valley Gang

    A very special welcome goes out to Mary Anne (pronounced Maryanna) Johansen, who is an exchange student from Arendal, Norway. I believe that she wins a tip of the Royal Knife & Fork, for having traveled the furthest distance for a Breakfast Club event.

    What's Next?

    The May event for the Breakfast Club, will see an encore visit to Big Bear City and the Barnstorm Café. Big Bear is a genuinely beautiful mountain retreat, situated along a man made lake that is the featured background for this year's Breakfast Club event calendar. Don't miss this one. Our June event is slated for Echo Bay. Echo Bay is about 20 further north than Temple Bar, the site of an earlier Breakfast Club event. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

    Below, are some links to pictures of the London Bridge and Lake Havasu, supplied to us by John Deptula.  Enjoy.

    Lake Havasu 1        Lake Havasu 2        Lake Havasu 3        Lake Havasu 4        Lake Havasu 5