Havasu Springs Resort, AZ – Lucky Break!

Lake Havasu.

View from the resort.

Lakeside vacation mobile homes.

Ready to launch.

Secluded cove.

Resting on the resort's beach.

Solitary fisherman.

Green grasses line the shore.

Deserted Island.

Clear green water at a private campsite.

Water pumping station.

Salt Cedar sapling takes root on a bouy.

Nesting site on stilts.

Lighthouse guides boaters in.

Houseboats at the marina.

Havasu Springs Resort, Arizona

Late October, 2009 - We left Laughlin, Nevada with a hankering to get the kayak out onto Lake Havasu, one of the manmade

lakes that have bubbled the Colorado River into a string of elongated beads as it runs south.  Problem was, where to stay?  We

pulled into a Love's gas station as we exited I-40 to take AZ-95 south, and a man in an old pickup engaged Mark in conversation.

"Where are you going?"  He asked.


"Where are you staying?"

"I'm not sure."

"Can I interest you in a free 5-day, 4-night stay at Havasu Springs Resort?"

Mark's ears perked up.  Sure!  It turned out that one of the oldest RV

park timeshare membership programs, Colorado River Adventures,

was promoting their parks to the snowbirds as they migrated south.

We could choose from four different RV parks for the promo package,

but he told us Havasu Springs was the nicest.  "You'll have to take a 90

minute tour, but it won't be any longer than that, I promise.  You'll also

get a $100 Walmart gift card."

Score!!  Going to timeshare presentations was something of a sport in

the Phoenix area in the late 1990's.  The resorts were lovely, the

giveaways were lavish, and the presentations were usually not that long

or grueling.  During coffee breaks on our group bike rides in those days

we'd sit around with our friends and compare notes on the different

timeshares we'd toured.  Of course, it's a sport fraught with danger, as

almost everyone we knew had given in and purchased a timeshare

somewhere along the line.  Nowadays our savvy friends buy them for pennies on the dollar on the internet.

We looked at the brochure the man in the pickup had handed us, saw the

pictures of the pretty beaches along the lake, and jumped at the chance.

Once there, while we were checking in, Mark noticed a poster on the wall

that offered two free dinners at the resort's restaurant if you took a tour of

the condos that were for sale.  Within minutes we'd scheduled our condo

tour for later that day and our timeshare membership tour for the next

day.  Ironically, we then accidentally took a self-guided half-hour tour of

the whole resort on our own, with our monster rig, as we got lost several

times looking for our campsite.

We were assigned

an appealing end site.  Our rig filled the entire site, and we had to juggle our

position to get the slides out without hitting the electrical box or the tree, but

we gleefully plugged into electrical, water and sewer hookups for the first time

in 8 months.  We planned to bask in four days of very very long showers and

we set the air conditioning so it would cycle on and off at will (this is not

possible when we run the a/c from the generator: when the a/c cycles on it

overloads the generator, shutting it off, so we simply run the a/c til we are cool

and then turn it off, effectively cycling it manually).

Our condo salesman was at our door

just as we removed the last bungee

cord from the cabinets.  What fun to cruise through a fabulously decorated $800k condo

with views of the lake and mountains, envisioning ourselves hosting elegant parties that

spilled from the beautiful great-room out onto the sprawling deck.  We found out we could

pick up this piece of paradise for less than $500k because of the stalled economy.  What a


We politely declined, but the free

dinner at Springs that night was

wonderful.  We had a pretty table

overlooking the marina, and we

toasted each other and our fine

meal while we were serenaded by a

wonderful female vocalist.  The sun

set slowly behind the distant

mountains and we kept laughing

about what crazy good luck it was to

run into the guy in the pickup at the

gas station.

The biggest perk for us at this

resort was the chance to get out on

the lake with the kayak.  Early the

next morning we snuck down to the

boat ramp and launched the boat.

It was promising to be a very

blustery day, and the water soon

kicked up as we pedaled and

paddled along.

The funny thing about this tandem

kayak is that the front person gets

drenched by waves slapping the bow.  Mark thought it was all quite hilarious as wave after

wave splashed over the boat and all over me while he remained perfectly dry.  I got the

last laugh, however, as the water that dripped off of me followed gravity

and made its way along the bottom edges of the boat to soak Mark's seat.

After a while he was sitting in quite a puddle.  We cracked up when we

finally returned to the boat ramp and crawled out of the kayak, two wet


The timeshare presentation was later that afternoon, and we were

radiating grins when we arrived in our salesman's office after our morning

adventure.  He took one look at us, heard Mark explain that we live off the

grid, and he said, "I know you're not going to buy, so I'll keep this short."

He gave us a brief synopsis of what the membership program was all

about (summarized under the "High End Membership Programs" on the

Fulltiming page, about 40% down the page).  And before 45 minutes was

up, he was shaking our hands and wishing us safe travels.  There had

been a mixup about the Walmart gift card, so

he handed Mark a check for $100.  "I bet this

was the easiest $100 you ever made."


Soon afterwards we saw him in his golf cart

greeting some friends who had just moved into

a site behind us.  Not only did he know we

weren't going to buy, but he had better things

to do with his time late on a Friday afternoon.

We hit the resort's bar for $1.50 steak tacos

and rode our bikes all over the place.  It is an

expansive property with several hotels and

marinas, and we enjoyed roaming the grounds

so much we forgot to check out the swimming pool and hot tub.  However, we met a couple who

had just completed 20 years of sailing in the Caribbean, and we enjoyed a lengthy conversation with

them about that lifestyle.  They were now building a home base in Vancouver and had come south

in their RV to escape the cold for the winter.

They were happier cold weather creatures than

we were, however, as their long term plans

were to buy an old fishing trawler and explore

Alaska by boat.

The winds died down and we were gifted with

one glorious day on the water with the kayak.

This time we both remained dry and we

explored much further north along the lake.  It is

a huge lake, some 50 miles long, so there was no chance to get to the other

end where the famed London Bridge stands.  However, we probably got about

4 or so miles out, and we passed countless boat-in BLM campsites along the

shore.  These are charming little spots with private beaches, picnic tables and plenty

of room to spread out.  Only one of these pretty campsites was occupied.

We stopped at one that was set in a private cove and wandered along the clear

green water.  What a perfect place to take a young family for a weekend.  The kids

could run free, and the adults could


The Parker Dam, which creates Lake

Havasu, is a huge concrete structure.

This business of controlling the

Colorado River took a lot of

engineering to create, and evidence of

the will humankind has exerted upon

this river appears in the vast

unpopulated hillsides in the form of water pumping stations with huge pipes and

industrial buildings

Heading in the

opposite direction,

towards the Bill

Williams Marsh, we found a wildlife nesting preserve.  Large tower

structures make inviting nest sites for birds.  We didn't see any of

the occupants, but there was plenty of evidence they had been

there, with nests on every tower.

We followed the lighthouse's beacon to one of the resort's marinas

and meandered between the houseboats.  There are all kinds of

ways to enjoy this corner of the world, staying at a resort hotel, in

an RV or a houseboat, or living in a condo or old mobile home

vacation house.  It's a small community tucked into a corner of the

lake on a long stretch of deserted shoreline.  It's one of those special little secrets that isn't necessarily advertised in bright lights

but we were fortunate enough to be lured in by a man in a pickup clutching a fist full of brochures.  We were still shaking our heads

in disbelief at this quirky detour in our travels as we made our way towards friends and family in Phoenix.