Sad really. Neither of us could remember what we’d done for the last three years on Valentine’s Day. Nothing memorable obviously. Himself would rate himself as more of a romantic than not, but perhaps in thought rather than in deed. Pragmatic runs to my core – romance is the stuff movies are made of. That said, I always appreciate flowers, no matter the occasion, but having surreptitiously checked whether a dozen long-stemmed roses would fit in the console of the rental car, I nixed even voicing that wishpectation.
We set out from Palm Desert California this morning shortly after 8 am expecting to be in Williams Arizona by 3 at the latest. We planned to see the iconic Route 66 town and then have dinner somewhere special. That was the plan. When we left, it was teeming with rain. The electricity was cutting in and out. And the day was shaping up to be quite miserable. We opted for the longer route along the Colorado River as the shorter one involved windy roads through a mountain pass and given the infrequency of heavy rain in the area, I didn’t trust the local drivers to stay in the lanes or the runoff to stay off the road – flash flood warnings in effect for the day.
We stopped for breakfast at Chiriaco Summit around 9.15 and lost two hours there at the fabulous General Patton Museum. It was so great that it deserves a post of its own, and that’s saying something, as I’m not a great lover of big guns and bigger tanks. We thought we’d gotten ahead of the bad weather, but by the time we surfaced, it had caught up with us.
We were headed to Lake Havasu to see the famous London Bridge. A bridge that once spanned the River Thames in London was taken apart, stone by stone, shipped to the USA, hauled to Arizona, and put back together again. It was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch (him of the lawn and garden machine fame – we have one of his strimmers) for $2,460,000 on 18 April 1968 from the City of London. The things some people do with their money. It took until 1971 for it to be completed and since then has been a major tourist attraction. We lucked out. We got the bridge and the British weather. It was pouring. And cold. But not as cold as it would get.
We stopped for lunch and looked at the map to see the quickest way to get to where we were ultimately heading. We were now about 2 hours behind schedule. I noticed Route 66 was an option and on it, the little town of Valentine. I figured that if we went to Valentine on Valentine’s Day, we’d never forget what we did on 14 February 2019. We decided to decide when we got to Kingman.
And it took an age to get there. The low-lying fog/cloud you can see is the rain we had to drive through. Us and every articulated truck that had anywhere to go other than home. It was nasty. But when the rain eased off a little, the desert colours were gorgeous. Pinks, yellows, greens, purples, and every possible shade of brown.
By the time we got to Kingman, we’d copped that we’d lost an hour having crossed a timeline somewhere along the way. There was no way we’d get to Williams in daylight so we decided to take the high road and head across on Route 66. I love driving that road. The mother road. I feel other-worldly when I do.
When we got to Valentine, we pulled up beside the sign. Another van was parked there. We figured they’d had the same idea. Turns out, it was a TV station from Phoenix who’d come expecting to find something going on. But it was still raining heavily and it was cold and there was no one but us around. They’d visited the general store in Hackberry and had then wandered around Valentine itself before parking at the sign waiting to see if anyone would stop by. We asked Kim Powell, the reporter, if she’d mind taking our photo. I know, I know. I don’t often do it, but given the day and given the place, I simply had to. Anyway, she did. And as one good turn deserves another, she asked if she could interview us. Sure, it’d have been rude to refuse. It’s pretty safe to say that if we did make the telly, no one we know would be watching. But we did… or at least the web.
It got dark somewhere on the Hualapai Indian reservation. We rolled into Williams about 8 pm and it looks quite the quaint little town. But after 12 hours on the road, I was ready for my prime rib dinner. Turns out though, our hotel restaurant didn’t quite stretch that far and it was too wet and too cold to go wandering. So I settled for a French dip. But I’m on a promise. Prime rib is something that needs crossing off my list before I leave.
So, from General Patton and his tanks to a relocated London Bridge, to the sleepy town of Valentine, it was certainly a day to remember. Oh, and yes. I did get chocolates. A box of maltesers from a truck stop on 95N. The boy knows me well.