My buddy Rudy and I drove his truck and trailer (YES WE TRAILERED), to meet some friends at In Santee at about 8:45am on Thursday April 28, to start our road trip out with a weekend of motorcycles, gambling, vendors and a bunch of folks from all over the Country that were looking to blow off some steam for a few days.
When we got there we grabbed our coffee and took some pictures to commemorate the moment.
One of our new riding pals, Vic, asked if he could ride with us since the other truck had four people in it already. We had plenty of room so he hopped in and we took off up the 52 Freeway.
We then headed North on the 15 and drove up to North County to meet a friend Katherine, who decided to ride rather than drive. Go ahead and insert your remarks about how a Woman was the only person to actually ride to Laughlin in our group.
To tell you the truth, It’s too windy and there are too many potholes on the way out there. We went out the 40 and after about fifteen smoke breaks for Vick, we arrived in Laughlin at about 4:30pm. We parked and unloaded our stuff in our rooms and went downstairs to make plans for the evening. Harrah’s is a nice hotel and our buddy Bob and his wife Aileen were kind enough to hook our group up with some pretty good rates considering the gouging we get every year we roll into town for the River Run.
(On a side note, I sure hope they lower their prices for the hotels and the amount that they charge for vendors because each year they’re losing riders that would normally make the trip out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go again next year and it’s a fun time but one has to wonder if the money that falls out of our pockets could be used in a more reasonable fashion. For instance, when I see a banner that says “Welcome Bikers”, and then the sign below it says $8 for a medium sized beer I get a little disheartened. By the way, I don’t drink and ride. We were walking at that time.)
The group gathered at the casino bar inside at Harrah’s and with the exception of Rudy and myself, everyone decided to gamble. I’m much too cheap to do that for more than a couple of minutes and my limit’s about ten bucks so we decided to walk the Laughlin Strip to check out some of the vendors. Little did we know that in order to find the strip from Harrah’s we would need a compass and a map just to find our way to the stairs that lead us to the top of the parking lot. (Mind you that could also be an intelligence factor on our part)…After several wrong turns and what seemed to be hours later (real time15 minutes), Rudy and I finally crested the top of the 99 stairs that would take us to the beginning of our trek down the Strip.
We caught our breath and started in the direction of civilization. Of course I’m being overly dramatic to illustrate my point that Harrah’s is just a bit out of the way at the end of town.
After walking for about a mile or so, we came across our first cluster of vendors and checked out some of the schwagg they had to offer. Eventually we walked to the center of the action across the street from the Holiday Inn Express and after deciding we weren’t going to buy anything yet, made our way to the water taxi on the back side of the Pioneer Hotel.
Once we arrived back at our hotel we decided to call it a night in anticipation of the next day’s plan…
Friday morning the alarm went off at 6am. Our goal was to get to Oatman, Arizona before it got too crowded to park our bikes.
Oatman is a small mining town about 30 miles or so out of Laughlin. It’s been around since the 1800’s and has burros (yes donkeys), walking the streets begging for carrots while you peruse the shops, restaurants and my personal favorite…the saloon. Not so much to drink but just because it really feels like the old west.
We ate breakfast there and then ran into Shadow and Diane, a couple of friends that we met just last year on this same trip. After checking out some of the knick knack shops and various other store fronts we all mounted up and rode out of town.
Taking Route 66 out the backside of Oatman is something everyone should do at some point in their lives just to see some of the vast valleys and raw, undisturbed desert terrain that goes for miles.
We stopped to take some pictures and buy some trinkets from what used to be an old gas station. The pumps still exist but no longer work and they make for some pretty cool pictures. We snapped some shots and headed to get some gas at a truck stop just off the 40 freeway. After we fueled up we rode out behind the gas station so we could take some more pictures in front of a gentleman’s club that looks like it’s been around since the 60’s or 70’s. It’s kind of like a scene out the movie Porky’s.
Before we left Santee, Rudy and I got a pair of Scala G4 Headsets so we could communicate while we ride. We hooked them up before leaving the gentleman’s club and I’ve got to say these babies came in handy on a couple of occasions throughout the rest of the trip.
Our next stop was Pirates Cove…
Pirates Cove in Needles is another highlight that you must experience. Many of the folks are there for the boating aspect of the area but Pirates Cove also employs some very beautiful people. I can’t speak for everyone but I’d have to say that there’s nothing wrong with a little eye candy as long it’s only window shopping. (That comment was out of respect to my lovely wife)…
We were packed in for at least a couple of hours so we ate and had a beer while soaking in the beautiful scenery. We all decided to get back to the Laughlin Strip so we could check out more of the vendors.
We checked out some shirts and other paraphernalia and headed back to our hotel.
The group decided to take a water taxi to the Colorado Belle where we decided to eat at a microbrewery called Pints. This place was just the ticket with great beer at reasonable prices and one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. This messy masterpiece is called “The Big Nasty,” with Philly cheese steak, gooey cheese, peppers, mozzarella sticks and onion rings all in a nice onion bun. Me likey!!! Very nice!!!
We took the water taxi back to the hotel and then came Saturday…
Today was interesting for a couple of reasons. The first was because the wind was pretty crazy on our way out to Kingman Arizona to check out an event at one of the Harley Dealers and there were more trucks on the road than I expected. This is where the Scala Headsets really helped out because one of the big rigs decided to change lanes suddenly and without much room between us and the front of the other bikes. I was able to communicate to Rudy to veer left as he passed the big rig because it seemed almost intentional when the sudden lane change occurred just moments earlier.
The second reason I say today was interesting was because on the way back from Kingman, one of our riders pulled ahead of the group and out of site for just a minute and when we crested the top of the mountain we were climbing, we all pulled over because we saw him on the side of the freeway. Thinking he was having mechanical issues with his chopper, my friend Mikey and his wife Vanessa rode over to him and asked what was going on and he gave the signal that he was just grabbing a smoke. At the time I was really pissed because of the safety factor when you pull to the side of a high traffic area like that. I said screw this and rode back into Laughlin with Rudy. (I’ve since thought about the situation and have come up with a plan that is simple…just give a wave to everybody riding by so they know to continue on and that you’ll catch up later). I also thought about how I could’ve handled the situation a little better and not thrown a temper tantrum like a four year old but I’ve got my big boy pants on now.
The rest of the crew did their own thing for a while and the plan was to meet up for dinner. Rudy and I had our eyes on a bar at the top of Harrah’s parking lot and when we saw the sign that said $1.00 beers and $5.00 pitchers, we knew we’d pay a visit to this establishment. While we sat at the bar and had a couple of beverages we raised the question as to why would there be only one employee in this place with all of the patrons and the possibility of things getting out of hand. Let’s face it, when there’s alcohol involved during a long weekend and a whole bunch of folks blowing off steam in the same place, there’s always that chance. That’s when we met the bartender Frank. Have you ever met a person that just wreaks of “I’ll be nice as long as you’re nice but if necessary, I’ll rip your head from your spinal chord and beat you with it”???...yeah, that’s why he was the only one working the bar.
We then decided to meet another friend “Katherine”, back at the Colorado Belle to pay a visit to the “Pints”, Microbrewery for some more of that great beer. After a fun conversation and a couple of pints we headed back to Harrah’s to meet the crew for dinner.
Once we got seated at the restaurant I realized that sitting down talking to this great group of friends is what this weekend is really all about for me.
We finished dinner and my pal Rudy and I took a water taxi back to the vendors to get our shirts and after checking out a couple of the parties going on we called it a night.
We met up with the rest of the crew so we could caravan home and after stopping to get a tire for Bob’s trailer we were about a half hour down the freeway from Laughlin when we noticed the seat on Vic’s chopper come flying off, almost hitting Katherine as she was riding. We pulled off at the nearest exit which was about 5 miles down the road. After we gathered our heads, Vic pulled his ride off the trailer and said he’d be back. His seat is ostrich leather and he said there’s no way in hell he was going to leave it behind. As we sat there waiting a CHP came by asking what we were doing and after we told him, he drove away satisfied with the answer. After about a half hour, in rolls Vic with his seat slightly busted up and a smile of victory on his face. He loaded his chopper on the trailer again and off we went.
Stopping in Yucca Valley, we ate quickly and hit the road again. We made it home to Santee by about 5pm.