New Mexico!

Day Seven - Flagstaff to Pasadena, via Oldtown, Williams, & London Bridge - Monday, April 24th
Day Seven Voyages

The day dawns cool and hazy in Flagstaff as I wake to the sound of two long trains passing one another just across the street from the motel.  Dee Dee's a little slow getting up this morning, so it's after ten before we've checked out and gotten on the road.  Mind, we don't go very far on that road - less than a mile on Route 66 - and we're stopping in downtown Flagstaff, right across from the railway station. Flagstaff's Train Station

Once again, we're out and walking about, checking out the old buildings in the area (including the station, of course - which also happens to be the town's Visitor Center).  Flagstaff has many nice old buildings, and we're pleased to see a whole block where the old tin ceilings still are in place. From across Route 66

(odd that: Tin ceilings are now a major architectural selling point, but when they were put in, decades ago, they were basically a cheap imitation of plaster ceilings with designs in them.  Makes you wonder if some day current day walls with wood-grain prints cardboard "paneling" will be trendy...

...probably not...)

Soon, though, we have to get going, for we've got a lot of miles to cover today.  We get to Williams about one and stop for lunch just at the western entrance to town.  While we're eating, Dee Dee notices a light off in the distance.  I look at it and it looks like the light of a train engine, but it's not moving.  I walk to the store across the street for some ice (we should have filled up the ice chest before we left the motel, but forgot) and when I get back I can see that it is a train engine (actually, two of them), moving very slowly, towing a short string of cars, and with some sort of arm waving about on the back.

Finally it gets close enough that we can see what it is.  The engines are pulling a string of flat cars with, sitting on top of the first car, a mobile crane.  We notice ties that had been previously replaced by newer ones sitting alongside the tracks and the crane was reaching down, snagging these ties as the train slowly passed, and piling them up on the flat cars!

The Work Train at Williams, AZ

The operator was unbelievably good with that arm, for he could pull a couple of ties together, then pick them all up at once, neatly stack the ties on the car, and occasionally tap a stack to move it slightly.  We watched this thing for twenty minutes (as I said, it was moving really slow - walking speed would be faster) and never once saw him make a mistake.  Something all the more impressive because it wasn't like the crane was attached to the car.  No, he was rolling back and forth on top of the flat car on ordinary tractor-treads!

Fascinating railway machinery or no, we're on the road again and heading to California.  While the old 66 passed through many small towns in this part of Arizona, the 40 cuts far to the south of almost all of them and we're basically driving though sixty odd miles of dead-empty land till we reach Kingman.  There's another thirty miles like that till we hit the border.

Just short of crossing the border though, I take a left and head south to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, site of (of all things) the London Bridge.

Yep, the real London Bridge.

Back in 1968, when they took it down in London to replace it with a newer (and larger!) bridge, for no clearly defined reason, the people of Lake Havasu decided that this would be the ideal tourist attraction for their town...

...'cause when you think Arizona, the Colorado River, and Lake Havasu, why, your thoughts just naturally turn to those of the London Bridge!!!

*BLINK*'s okay, I don't understand it myself.

Anywho, they shipped it over to Arizona, put it back together (after first building a waterway for it to cross) and now here it sits, Lake Havasu's claim to fame, pretty much ignored from what I can tell.

Still, I'd never seen it (having little reason to go to Lake Havasu City), and as we were passing within twenty miles of the place, I figured "why not?"

Why not, indeed?  Well, apart from the fact it was annoyingly hot and dusty, the city itself was really, really tacky (stucco mini-malls everywhere!), and the only real reason to go there would be if you are into boating/skiing on the river/lake - which even if we were up for, we had no time for. London Bridge fell down clear to Arizona...

So we got to the bridge, parked, I took a couple of pictures, and off we went, back the way we came as fast as possible, for the sun was setting, and we just wanted to get home.

It's a surprisingly long way from the California border back to Pasadena - especially when you mind keeps going "well, I'm back in California, I should be home now," and it's several hours before we're pulling into the driveway at our place and slowly pulling ourselves out of the car.

Road Trip 2000 now officially over!

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