Given the demise of Jenkin’s air conditioner, and the fact that it was a vinyl-melting 115 F by mid-morning, we decided to skip Death Valley. Instead we drove one hundred miles farther south and crossed the Mojave Desert at high noon!
Our last watering hole before the great crossing–of course we’d picked a minor sub-highway that went over a hundred miles without any sign of human settlement–was Lake Havasu City, a surreal little vacation spot where some loony jackass had put London Bridge–the genuine article, bought and carried over brick by brick. The bridge had become the centerpiece for an entire Merrie Olde England tourist town, with double decker buses and red telephone booths and miserable looking Buckingham Palace-type guards liquefying under those tall fur hats. [2006 Edit: Matt Grasso, I'm looking to you to provide some appropriate image or line of dialogue from the "Little England" episodes of Arrested Development.]
We had chip buddies and bangers and mash at the local pub, and did our best to imagine we really were in England–wonderful damp, cool, rainy England. But even inside the pub, free from the blistering heat and gnarled cactii, there were still a few subtle clues that we might be closer to California than the sceptered isles. Do most real London pubs sell tropical fruit smoothies with your choice of bee pollen, beta proteins, liao drug, or other trendy smartdrink additives? (Well, maybe in the West End.)