Life in the desert is different. Different than anything I’ve experienced including the African Bush in the olden days when I was stationed in Nigeria, West Africa.
Before I went to Lake Havasu, Arizona in August, I had heard the daytime temperature could reach 117 degrees Fahrenheit. What’s that like? When my friend, Lynn, said: “Turn on your oven like you’re going to bake a cake and stick your head in,” I laughed. And then I went there. She was right about that part, but there were many redeeming factors to offset the extreme heat.
What a charming and delightful surprise it was. My dear friends, Linda and Bill, moved to Lake Havasu City thirty years ago and have found a paradise that suits their lifestyle and has opened up a new world to me and Extra-Large Toby. We were invited to visit and stay while I hibernate in their guest house and write my next book, “The Husbands,” which promises a “tell-all” of the six times I marched down the aisle and said “I do!”
The guest house ironically dubbed “Bill’s Man Cave,” happens to be twice the size and many times the luxury of the Costa Rican casita Toby and I inhabited in Atenas. The enormous flat-screen TV on the wall in front of the super-sized soft leather recliners are irresistible. The custom built poker table is surrounded by more leather chairs which all have wheels for easy maneuvering. The first time Toby did his lap-dog imitation where he places his extra-large head and front paws on my lap and tries to climb up, he pushed me and a string of three other chairs across the room and we glided effortlessly on the travertine tile until we gently bumped into the wall. After my initial surprise, I started laughing like a hyena and Toby jumped off and looked at me quizzically like I had lost my mind.
I learned to plan my outings according to the day’s temperature – dogs walks at dawn, moonlight pool time, and indoor activities in air-conditioned houses, cars, and restaurants. The perfectly temperature-controlled gym, Havasu Fitness, has become my afternoon haven. I can easily spend three hours there. Not only do they have live Zumba classes, but there is also a kiosk that plays videos on a giant screen where I can take a class anytime the studio is available – 24/7! For an old gym rat like me, this is paradise.
And then there are the people. I have yet to encounter a rude person in Lake Havasu City. Of course, we must consider the circles in which I travel; I am the guest of former Senator Linda Binder, the well-loved, articulate, British-born, charmer who is known and respected by everybody in town. We are working on her memoir, “From Stewardess to Senator,” to be released early next year.
Linda and I were friends and neighbors in San Mateo after we both left Trans International Airlines to start our families. After she had her beautiful daughter, Marisa, and I had my fabulous son, Tyler, we became constant companions – mommies with their babies taking walks together with our prams, lunching together in San Francisco, shopping for fun baby outfits, and sharing family activities. When she announced her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, had a good job offer in Arizona my heart cracked.
Always looking on the bright side, Linda said, “Don’t worry my darling, I will feel right at home. London Bridge is there. You can come visit often and it will be like we are flying to Europe again!”
“What? London Bridge is there? What are you talking about? London Bridge is in London!”
“They built a new one and tore down the original. When Robert McCullock planned Lake Havasu City in 1964, he had vision. He purchased the London Bridge, which was dismantled in 1967, slapped some numbers on the granite blocks and reconstructed it over the Colorado River in 1971. Amazing, huh? It’s the real deal. Let’s go have lunch at Shugrue’s and look at the bridge. They have fish ‘n chips. We can pretend we’re looking at the Thames.”
I have grown to appreciate the desert-scape and am especially fascinated by the giant cactus that dwarfs the house on the corner. I never thought I would enjoy living in the desert. Never say never!