Monday, May 30, 2016

London Bridge: Visiting Literary History

I'll confess, I didn't know that the London Bridge that I've read about in my favorite British literature now resided in the USA. I assumed that London Bridge had been torn down and occupied a lowly place in some landfill over in England. Surprise and a bit of astonishment hit me when a co-worker mentioned that London Bridge moved to Arizona back in the 1970's. In my experience, bridges don't typically relocate, and definitely don't emigrate.

I immediately texted my wife and asked if she wanted to pack and take the family to Arizona after work.

I doubt the original architect for London Bridge ever envisioned it surrounded by palm trees.

Now Arizona appears next to Utah on Google Maps, but in practice Salt Lake City and Arizona are not neighbors. (Those world maps are just so deceptive ; - )

My wife, being used to my eccentric behavior, called me and left a message that boils down to, "What?! Are you nuts? Sure. Let's go." So we packed up the van and were halfway to London Bridge before the sun rose the next day.

We finished the trip and reached London Bridge just in time for check-in at the resort. The first thing I did was take a selfie next to the London Bridge plaque. Then my family walked across the bridge more times than I can remember. If you take it at a casual pace, walking across the bridge can take five-to-ten minutes. So, we did a lot of walking.

Walking across the London Bridge at a casual pace can take five-to-ten minutes.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona, is a medium sized city now. However, when Robert P. McCulloch bought London Bridge back in the 1968, there really wasn't much in the area. He had tried to develop the desert lakefront, but couldn't seem to get investors interested in a development project that far away from any big cities.

McCulloch eventually was convinced that the crazy idea of buying London Bridge and installing it as part of the development would make the area attractive to investors. He was right, and now the area is thriving. The resort that sprung up around the bridge property is a popular daytime destination and has several night clubs that continue the fun after the sun sets.

Burgers by the Bridge is a great restaurant with a view of London Bridge.

Visiting London Bridge is visiting a bit of literary history. The London Bridge that spanned the Thames River in London from 1830 to 1967 was major part of historical London–a setting for parts of the most important stories and novels of the English language. If you study literature and aspire to greatness as an author yourself, then visiting the London Bridge is a fun pilgrimage for inspiration and for understanding London of the two centuries when it appears in works as diverse as Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker.

Lake Havasu's London Bridge provided the main crossing into London for nearly a century. If any literature of the 1800's refers to crossing a bridge into London, this is probably the bridge they are referring to. This is the bridge featured in the 1987 Sherlock Holmes movie, and other movies about 19th century London.

Can't you just imagine Sherlock Holmes standing under this lamp post on a foggy London night?

Our trip to London Bridge was amazing. We stayed at the London Bridge Resort and splurged for a room with a balcony. The swimming pools all look out over the bridge and channel flowing under the bridge. Walking along the shore under the bridge on both sides there were plenty of shops and activities to keep us busy. Even if I hadn't been excited just to visit the bridge itself, I could have had fun with boating, walks, swimming, restaurants, and the night clubs.

Our room's balcony did not face the bridge. That is probably the only regret I have. However, the music from the night clubs was pretty loud, so having a room on the opposite side of the building may have been a good thing. I'm a pretty light sleeper, and they might have kept me awake if I had had a room with a bridge view.

My family all enjoyed the London Bridge trip. My nine-year-old even told me he plans to move to Lake Havasu when he grows up. I think that is about as good of an endorsement as you can get from a nine-year-old.

On the way out of Lake Havasu, we realized we hadn't driven across London Bridge, yet. So, we drove across it a couple of times just so we could brag about having crossed it on foot and in a vehicle. Maybe we should have rented a boat and floated under it, too. Maybe next time.

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