Monday, February 11, 2013

On the Road: Tucson, AZ, to Laughlin, NV



Sunday, February 10, 2013

We rose early today. This is the second day of our trip, and we still have lots of miles ahead of us. After enjoying the complimentary breakfast at our hotel, we got back in the truck and started our day. After a brief stop for gas, we decided to drive through downtown Tucson on our way out of town.

I really like Tucson. It is a big town, but not so big that it swallows you. The downtown area reminded Donna and me of Santa Fe to some degree. The Mexican influence on the area is unmistakable. Lots of construction is going on downtown. Buildings are being renovated, roads are being improved – lots is going on. We would like to return and spend a few days. It would be good if we could stay downtown so we could walk to the museums, cafes, and other places of interest.

Our route today is 387 miles long

From downtown, we got back on I-10. Driving north out of Tucson, we saw fields to the east, watered by man-made canals which criss-cross the fields and parallel the highway. About halfway to Tucson, we passed

Pichacho Peak and its namesake state park. An impressive "forest" of saguaros was on both sides of the road.


At Casa Grande, I-8 splits from I-10 and heads west to San Diego, CA, via Yuma, AZ. We followed this route, as Phoenix is a monster we prefer to avoid. The stretch of I-8 west of the split is quite scenic from my perspective. For the first 10 miles of so, farmland lines the interstate, eventually giving away to desert dominated by saguaros for the next 40 miles or so.

At Gila Bend, we turn north off I-8 onto Arizona 85. This is a common route for travelers who wish to bypass Phoenix. It connects about 30 miles to the north with I-10, which then heads west towards Los Angeles. This is our route for another 50 miles or so before we turn off and work our way up to Parker, AZ, via Arizona 72. Along this stretch, we cross the Central Arizona Canal Project several times.

Central Arizona Project is a canal that provides Colorado River water to places as distant as Tucson

Parker is a busy community on the Colorado River, and is popular with RVers during the winter. From Parker, we follow Arizona 95 north through perhaps the most scenic section of our trip so far. Mountains line the Colorado River, and the road dips and curves in out, offering numerous beautiful views of the river. This area is heavily developed. It looks like the RV capital of the universe to me, for RV parks appear almost nonstop along the river. North of Parker Dam, the area is less developed. Eventually, we arrive at Lake Havasu City, AZ, home of the London Bridge. Yes, we did drive across the fabled bridge. Lake Havasu City comes across to me as a retirement home for wealthy individuals. Restaurants, shops, and beautiful homes line the roads. It's really an attractive community, and I'd like to return for a few days and wander the streets.

After a short detour through Lake Havasu City, we continue north on Arizona 95 and eventually intersect with I-40, where we turn west for about 10 or so miles. I misread the signs and exit too early. I should have stayed on the interstate until we crossed the Colorado River in Needles, California, but I exit before crossing the river when I see a sign for Bullhead City. The road we follow takes us along the east bank of the river through productive farmland until we eventually intersect once again with Arizona 95 in the Mohave Valley communities.

We follow the highway to an area just south of Bullhead City, then turn west on Aztec road and cross the river next to the Avi Casino. We then turn north and head to Laughlin, our home for the next week.

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