From One London Bridge to Another
Did you know that the London Bridge from London, England now sits in a small town in southwest Arizona? Neither did we, until Deanna's parents bought a house and retired to Arizona. "London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down...". Theories abound as to why the nursery rhyme refers to the bridge falling down, but I'll just touch on the one relevant to this story. The others can be read on the Wikipedia article for "London Bridge is Falling Down".
Building and maintaining a bridge across the River Thames was apparently a difficult undertaking in the Middle Ages. It was the only bridge crossing the river from the time it was built in the 12th century until the 18th century. Due to a few fires and the need for continual expensive repairs, the song possibly refers to the fact that the bridge was, in fact, falling down.
In 1831 a new bridge was built to replace the original and remained there until 1972 when it was again replaced in order to handle heavier traffic load. The 1831 version of the bridge was then auctioned off and purchased by Robert McCulloch, a wealthy oil executive and founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He was convinced by his real estate agent to purchase the bridge and use it to attract visitors to his real estate developments in the city (it worked).
We started our travels by visiting Deanna's parents at their home in Arizona and made sure to visit the bridge in Lake Havasu before we left. In fact, just before we were there a story came out in a London tabloid claiming the bridge was again "falling down" due to neglect by the city and that the area around the bridge was being used for marijuana tourism. Nevermind the fact that marijuana was only legalized in Colorado and Washington State, both places a fair distance from Lake Havasu City (though Arizona does share a corner with Colorado). The residents of Lake Havasu are proud of their bridge and were none too pleased with the "snobs" in London making up stories about their town. The story ran in the local paper with the town even offering anyone with travel plans to London a piece of the bridge and an article explaining the truth so they could prove to the Londoners in person that the bridge was alive, well, and in capable hands. (As it turns out you can buy a piece of the bridge for $1 so we didn't bother getting the free one. Let's ignore the fact that bringing a piece of the bridge to London doesn't exactly inspire confidence in its condition.)
Upon our visit to London we again made sure to visit the London Bridge, which sits one bridge to the west of the much more elaborate Tower Bridge. We were quite disappointed with the current London Bridge in London. As you'll see in the photos, the Lake Havasu bridge is more impressive and interesting to see, and walking across the London version caused us to forget to walk across the Tower Bridge.
So, with a few stops in between, we traveled the 5,285 miles from the London Bridge to the London Bridge. It felt like a "full circle" moment even though our travels had just begun.
P.S. Tipping Point
Shortly after our arrival in the UK we became hooked on a gameshow called Tipping Point. One of the first episodes we saw included the following trivia question: "In 1968, the oil tycoon Robert P McCulloch bought which British bridge and relocated it to Arizona." It seems many Brits don't know where their bridge ended up, as the contestants could only manage to come up with "the Arizona Bridge?". Ha!