After nearly two months in one place, a road trip was calling us. We pulled up stakes on a Thursday morning – well it was actually afternoon by the time we’d gotten everything disconnected and packed away for the jaunt – and started west toward Lake Havasu City, bypassing Quartzsite on the way. Our plan was to spend a couple of days taking in the Balloon Festival in Lake Havasu before returning to check out the draw of RVs in Quartzsite.
It was getting dark by the time we arrived in Lake Havasu and found the Good Sam parking area where we’d booked a spot for two nights. The price was right at only $20 per night. Although it was dry camping (no electricity, water or sewer, also known as boon docking) it was close to the lake and the site of the Balloon Festival, to which frequent shuttle buses were supplied. We had dinner in the motor home, read the information provided by the Good Sam Club, and then turned in early so we could be up at dawn for the first balloon launch.
The next morning we were on the shuttle bus by 6:30 am, after a quick breakfast and no coffee. We watched while numerous balloons were inflated and readied for launch. Multi-membered crews pulled ropes and organized the various stages while trying to keep spectators from getting in the way. It was an amazing thing to watch.
At 7:20 am the Opening Day of the Balloon Festival began with a Flag Ceremony and the first balloon was launched,rapidly followed by many others.
For $200 each we could have taken a ride in one; for $20 we could go up a few hundred feet in a tethered balloon. The former would have been fun, but was too expensive; the later didn’t hold much interest. We waited to see the massive Wells Fargo Balloon leave the ground, but learned that it would only be tethered, so we finally wandered to the mile-long circle of vendors in search of more breakfast.
After filling our bellies with a shared jumbo breakfast burrito, and re-energized with coffee, we toured around Vendor Circle where we were impressed with the variety and quality of products for sale. We snapped pictures of vintage cars on display.
At 1:00 pm we were getting weary so waited in line for a shuttle bus back to the campsite, only to be told that the school buses being used were tied up transporting school children until 3:00, so we went back through the gates, found a table under the tent and enjoyed Teriyaki bowls while listening to the musician performing on the outdoor stage. Then we roamed some more, discovering more balloons in the sky and more treasures in the Vendor Circle. We drank several bottles of water. The temperature had climbed up over 80˚F. The weather turned a little too breezy for a few hours, so the balloons gradually returned to the ground. At 4:00 pm we finally caught a shuttle bus back to the RV to rest and unload the extra clothing and purchases that we’d been carrying around all day. But we had to go back again at 6:00 to catch the “Night Glow” or “Field of Fire”. As the sun set, we stood beneath a ceiling of colourful balloons lit up by the gas flames that inflated them. What an awesome experience! Exhausted, we fell into bed very early again that night.
The next morning we were up early enough to have coffee and donuts with our fellow Good Sam members at the campsite, and we took more pictures of the launched balloons from the roof of the RV before setting out on the road again.
We made a stop at London Bridge, in downtown Lake Havasu City, before finding a place to fill up the propane tank. We would be boon docking again in Quartzsite, so we had to make sure we had plenty to run the furnace (it still gets cold at night), water heater and stove.
Then we were on the road once more.