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Busted Again at the 33rd Laughlin River Run
Coverage & Photos of our Great Road Trip... by Mike Sayer
[Commentary / Overview]
The Annual Laughlin River Run put on by Dalcon typically signifies that riding season has officially begun... well, at least in the southwestern part of the United States anyway.
We have not been to every event since the beginning but have attended quite a few including the “infamous 2002” event that changed all of the rules for Biker Events in California and here in Laughlin.
I remember those days when coming to Laughlin meant loose security, loose women, loose boobies and lax drinking regulations... it was a giant Biker Party for the most part with the sound of loud pipes, rock music and the sweet aroma of bbq in the air! My first glimpse of the “debauchery” was a small gathering of Bikers circles around three hotties that were proud to show what God gave them while wrapped around a custom chopper.
There were no cops, no rules, no cell phone cameras and no one around to complain about it... it was just a damed good time without barriers.
Once the shooting occurred there was talk of cancelling the event all together but instead the solution was to bring in outside forces of Law Enforcement that must have been ordered to shut down, cite or arrest anyone for any sight infraction that may lead to an incident getting out-of-hand. It was the days of the “Biker Build-Offs” on cable TV and everyone wanted to get into the Chopper Building Business including many of the jamokes who this event walking around with their ol' ladies while pushing a stroller bragging about “how much better they would be able to build” compared to many of the top-name bikes built by craftsmen like Arlen Ness, Russell Mitchell, Billy Lane, Indian Larry, Jesse James, Matt Hotch, Paul Yaffe, Ron Simms, Scott Long and many, many more that have been building bikes for a long, long time. And what id up with these huge front-wheel Baggers... can't someone make it stop? The line has been crossed. Let's see something different... it's time, it's really time!
The paradigm shifted when more women began coming to and riding to these events. Suddenly, the event became less wild and a lot more tamed bordering along the lines of boredom unless you get lucky with an “illegal” boobie flash. Where there once was skimpy outfits, bare-boobs, burnouts and beer flowing like the Colorado River is now the occasional rack with pasties under a mesh of see-thru top.
Where there once were Hot Girls in G-strings and Sexy Chaps is now knee-high boots, and tight Bedazzled Jeans, Push-up Bras and lots of store-bought Harley apparel from head to toe! Where have all the old-school Bikers gone... because you don't see many of them here anymore? I spotted a few.
And the kicker is..... how Dalcon and now most every other business owner in the area (including across the river in Bullhead City / Ft. Mohave) that sees Biker$ and jacks-up their prices to all-time highs screwing the Bikers that support this event and make it what it is (was)! The locals know where to go... but they see the rate increases too!
A room at a Laughlin Hotel is fairly cheap most of the time... but prices get escalated to new highs each and every year to help drain the pockets of those who attend.
So...... is it any wonder why attendance is down? NO! I just hope that the Vendors who who depend on Biker Business have made it worth their while that also pay the higher fees (to a lesser crowd) and earn enough to want to come back again.
I am not hating this event... not at all. I love riding here, being here and having a good time like all of the others that do the same. It's just that I hate seeing the greed run rampant un-necessarily while they get rich and Bikers get ripped-off. The Police were cool this year and had a fairly easy time “keeping the peace” since lower attendance and the colder, windy and rainy weather put a serious damper on the calmed madness of recent events. Yes, we will be going back again to hang out and have a great time... but we will not be staying at a Hotel that feels to need to shake money out the pockets of Bikers... let their Casinos do that!
Wednesday, April 22nd – O:dark thirty: We met up with our newest Operative, Robbie Robertson, and his friend Rick Watkins at a gas station in Menifee just off of the freeway. We hadn't met either of them so it was great to finally meet them. Robbie had just rode down the entire west coast from Victoria, British Columbia Canada on Saturday to attend the Laughlin River Run. He met up with Rick in Chula Vista and then rode back up to meet up with us and then head out to the desert via I-10 / Highway 62 / Yucca Valley / Twenty-nine Palms / Amboy Road and Route 66 to the river city
We stopped at the Highway 62 Cafe for a pit-stop and a hot breakfast before we crossed the hot desert. Once inside we met a few other Bikers from Glendora just finishing up as we sat down. Food was great and soon we were back on the road heading east through the small desert towns of Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and through 29 Palms to Amboy Road through Wonder Valley (which is no wonder at all) after filling up our gas tanks at the last chance for gas on Adobe Road.
The road was clear and the weather was perfect as we hummed along and into Amboy stopping at the “most photograped sign in the world”, Roy's Cafe & Motel and the towering landmark. Naturally we had to take a few photos... so we did and then got back on the road to find Route 66 had been closed down between Kelbaker Road and I-40 so we had to double back to Kelbaker Rd and hop on the Interstate to Goff's Road exit where we fueled up again and stayed on Route 66 heading to Searchlight and Laughlin (the long way as we found out)... but it was a great ride!
We arrived on Casino Drive in Laughlin about 2:pm and pulled into the Colorado Belle parking lot so Rick could check into his room. Robbie then went to his Hotel to check in and we went over the bridge and down to our friend Tom's place where we were going to stay. We planned on getting together later that night but ended up staying with Tom to visit and rest up a little.
Although rain was in the forecast it looked as if the rain would pass over and not effect us or the event. The next morning, after a late night of hanging out, we were up by 7:am to a relatively clear sky. After coffee and a great home-made breakfast (by our host) we decided to go over and check out the Vendors starting at the Edgewater Resort.
Several Casinos were not participating in the event by having Vendors (so I will not name them and give them any free promotion... if you were there, you know who they are). Bikers should have boycotted them and let them suffer and not let them bilk us for more money by staying there.
Vendor attendance was down slightly and the “feel” of it was in the air. Naturally, there were many Vendors from the grass-roots Mom & Pops to he Mega-Huge with their Nascar Size Semi-Trucks and Trailers and massive canopies. The Law Tigers who were the main sponsors of the event were literally “everywhere” and did a great job of getting in front of every Biker that rolled into town seeing the giant inflatable Tigers and banners hung just about every place possible along the casino strip!!!
Bikers were rolling into town in sparadic groups cruising the strip and going to their prospective Hotels and destinations. Police presence was almost non-existent with exception to only a few on bicycles and the occasional cruiser here and there. The mood was right, the weather was looking good and the feeling of being on a Biker Vacation had expedited us into a phase of amphoric pleasure to finally be here until Sunday leaving all of our cares behind. My lovely wife, Jan, was already missing our little Doxies at home, but they were in good hands and being looked in on by our awesome neighbor Kent and our Daughter Heidi and Grandson Trevor... so we could truly relax and have some long over-due fun!
We hung out all day and saw most of the Vendors to get that out-of-the-way before the crowds piled in, and met many new people like the “Sexiest Cops on the Strip”, Lea & Liz (whom we met last time we were here) and making new business contacts like Randy & Paul from “Fat Bastard Motorcycle Accessories” and Sherie, Staci and the Girls from “Classy Calves”, Andy Sr. & Jr. from Bar Enterprises, Frank from “Hard Rider NYC” & Cara from “Smarter Garter”, Javier & Lisa with Hats of all kinds at “Correa International” as well as cool people like JJ and Tina from Jackson Hole, Montana, Sue, Shelly & Cassie from Cave Creek, Arizona, Mindy & Justine and Tammy & Angela from “Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys”, Portia, Danielle & Chad from “Dirty Tequilla”, Dave & Keri Anne at the main Law Tigers Booth and many others like James Thomason from Georgia with his Bad-Ass Beard, Stacy & Denise at “Diva's Bling” as well as Sharon, Sarah, Joe & Jake from our friends at “Geico Insurance” as we promoted our online magazine and up-coming event to those who may not have heard of us yet. Around 6:pm we went back to Tom's for a bbq and small gathering of others who had ridden up earlier in the day O.C. Bob, Leroy, Brad and Tom's cool neighbor Handlebar Bob. We ate, drank, talked, laughed, drank, inhaled second-hand smoke until after midnight then crashed like dummies on our soft double bed for a few hours until 5:30 am when the aroma of fresh coffee filled up the house. Some sleep is much better than none... but why waste time sleeping? ... we were in Laughlin!
On Friday morning we anticipated the arrival of a great friend, Chip, who just couldn't leave any earlier. Chip from our partnership company, Help Hospitalized Veterans, had to open up shop and get the day started before he rode out at approximately 10:am. Once he arrived in Amboy he called us so we could meet up with him in Needles since he had never been to the River Run and we wanted to guide him to Tom's place where he would be staying and off-load his extra luggage. We waited for him as we hung out with Tom, O.C. Bob, Leroy, H.B Bob & his wife at the Golden Nugget kicking back listening to a “live” Country Band, “Tempered Steel Union” who put on a pretty good show. At around 1:30 we headed down 95 to meet up with Chip.
We were to meet up at the Mobil Station in Needles (where gas prices were $1.00 higher than they were just about everywhere else) at around 2:15... a few minutes later Chip pulled in behind a group of riders and shut down his motor and stretched his legs as we visited and talked about the ride in and the windy but clear weather.
By 3:00 we were crossing the bridge at the Avi Casino (where there used to be a flock of Vendors) and over to the Arizona side of the river. We arrived at Tom's place by 3:30 to unload and then head over to Laughlin to see the Band “The Cougarzz” who were performing at the Riverside Resort to check out the “All-Female Rock Band” that literally Kick-Ass! The girls were amazing and we greeted them as they exited the stage on for a break.
We caught about an hour of their amazing show and then wandered into the Vendor area so Chip could start to see what the Laughlin River Run was all about meeting a few members of the “Laughlin Chamber of Commerce”, Judy, Lu and Henry for a bottle of ice cold water. From there we decided to go get some grub and ended up at the Pioneer for the buffet but found out (after we were seated) they weren't serving the buffet and had to order and wait over 1 hour to be served. The food was “fair” and we talked about the experiences of the day while we waited and dined. [Note: The Cougarzz are the opening band at the RFUSA/HHV Motorcycle Event and Concert taking place on September 5th “On-The-Beach” ]<(click it for more info).
After our meal we wandered over to the “Hogs & Heifers Arena” in front of the Colorado Belle Casino along the strip where things were getting loud and rowdy with pounding bass and loud rock music blasting. Several of the hot female bartenders jumped up on the bar and began to dance and yell profanities out at the crowd (in a good way) to stir up the pot to a standing room only audience! Horny Mike's Wild Green School Bus with it's huge devil horns on top and wild paintjob, was parked in the compound and was an attraction that everybody stood in front of at one point or another to get a photo!
Around 10:pm, we decided to head back over to Tom's and kick back for a while. After making a stop at Safeway for some “refreshments” we arrived at Tom's to find things relatively calm and subdued. I guess we woke up some of the neighbors with our loud pipes as we fumbled with the gate and pulling into the driveway. Oh well, we're here!
We decided to head to Oatman first thing Saturday morning to take in the wild-life there. After topping off our tanks we headed up Boundry Cone Road at 45mph to the hills of Oatman expecting to see many cops but only seeing one as we reached the top of the hill. Then the speed limit dropped to 30mph all the way into town so we cruised slowly along trying to avoid getting a ticket by some over-zealous county mountie but made it to town not seeing even a one! We parked directly in front of and under the Oatman Hotel Sign and went inside for breakfast. There were approximately 20 other bikes there and every biker was inside the cafe when we enetered the dollar-bill ladened room.
The breakfast was buffet-style and was extremely good and we ate our fill of the exceptionally good bacon that was offered up with no scarcity! The staff was gracious and accommodating and the prices were great (unlike prices Laughlin)! We went up stairs to look inside the room that Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent their honeymoon night in when thy got married in the 1930's. Upstairs we met Debbie working the counter in the gift shop and two cool Bikers “Don and Kurt” from Utah. Chip met a Vet named “James Lehman” who is from Simi Valley and they spoke about Veteran activities and our “VCR” event in September.
Once we exited the Hotel with our full bellies the Biker population had increased by 300% as a steady stream of bikes flowed into the tiny gold mining town on Route 66 with it's population of wild burros that have free run of the streets and buildings without barriers. The burros seem to like the Bikers and come out to mingle and pose for photos expecting to be tipped with a free snack that is available in many of the shops in town. The wild (but tame) burros are descendants of burros brought to the area by Gold Miners from the early 1900's and still roam the desert to this day! They are cute but feisty and are not to be ridden or molested in any way by anyone wanting to stay out of jail.
We walked the street to find our good friend Larry Fairfield of “Fairfield's Pinstiping” who was situated on the far end of town in the area where the band was set up. Although he wasn't having the “banner day” that he expected, but was cool with hanging out and passing out our RideFreeUSA Postcards as he typically does for us.
I met and spoke to a local business owner Brad Blake at the “Jack-Ass Junction” Store who informed me that his family have been full-time residents of Oatman for over 25 years and really look forward to this event every year and do everything possible to take care of all of the Bikers that come to visit. They operate around five business in town and realize that if you take care of the Bikers they will have a good time and want to come back. He is right on and also graciously has a few beautiful ladies dressed in cute little outfits to be the eye-candy to the many camera wielding Bikers that wanted to pose for and take photos with the ladies, the lovely Kaitlyn and Brad's lovely wife, Mrs. Blake (toting the gun in holster). These two gals posed for photos every time they were asked and smiled in every shot! That is one more great reason to Love Oatman!!!
We also met “Skip O'Brien”, the nicest S.O.B. Anyone could ever meet with his nicely carved signs custom-made for you as well as “Louie & Kim” from Glendora that is a Master-Builder of Fine Custom Cars and Hot Rods and “Steve & Anja” from Phoenix and “Virginia” who was on her first long ride aboard her New Black Indian Scout that she won at a bike event in December!
By noon there were hundreds of Bikers all over town parked, cruising up and down on the street either heading to or riding in from the Harley Dealer in Kingman where another event was taking place. Chip kept saying “this is awesome” since he didn't really know what to expect when we led him here. It has to be experienced for one's self to feel the energy of this wonderful place nestled in the rugged hills along Route 66 that was here before the Mother Road was even thought of.
Soon dark rain clouds loomed over the small town when suddenly light rain started to fall just enough to dampen the streets and cover all of the nice, shiny motorcycles. In the distance from the west it was apparent that more rain was on the way so we decided to head to Kingman to outrun the bad weather and stop over at “Cool Springs” for a photo-opp since Chip had never been there either.
The ride out of Oatman and up the grade through the twisty roads is my wife Jan's favorite road to travel. We first came to Laughlin in 1990 (not on a motorcycle) and fell in Love with the charm and atmosphere of this place immediately! The road leads to the Sitgeave's Pass (elevation 3550) that many travelers coming west in the early days never made it over the grade in their old clunky, over-loaded, over heating vehicles that caused them to either get towed back to Kingman or end up on the east side of the grade because they just could not make it any further. I always think about that as we ride through the area trying to imagine the heart-break of the dreams shattering as they envisioned heading to California and the promise of a new life in the land of milk & honey and the fertile lands along the golden pacific coast.
Once at “Cool Springs”, we hung around for a few pics and volunteered to shoot a few pics of a group wanting a shot of themselves with the painted Route 66 sign on the highway. After avoiding a few passing by motorists we finally got the shots they wanted and headed back to our Bikes just as I recognized a facebook friend and aquaintance, “Betsy Heulskamp and Gevin” pulling on the westside of the lot. We approached them and visited with them for a few minutes taking photos with ours and their cameras for the sake of prosperity. Over a few minutes, we headed out and back on 66 to Kingman.
We made it to Kingman just as more bad weather swept over the Dealer compound where many Vendors had already called it quits and pulled up stakes. A Band played on the main stage to a non-existent audience as the wind blew through the covered area sending debris and Vendor materials and dust into the desert backdrop.
We were wanting to hook-up with “Biker Bob and his Shiny Biker Bits” but was informed by the guys over at the Law Tigers booth that Bob had packed up and left a short time earlier. We went though the Vendors that were still there before we mounted back up and headed back the way we came to Oatman catching wind and rain all the way back through Oatman where things were looking a little calmer (as expected).
It was around 5:30 by the time we rolled through Oatman and ended up on Arizona 95 and not coming upon a check-point and breathalizer test that we expected to see. We stopped at Micky D's for a pit stop and then headed back over the Fort Mohave Bridge to Nevada 95 and headed back to Laughlin from that side making it back into town just after 6:pm. We were famished and beat-up from the weather but all dried out and we cruised Casino Drive. Just as we sat at a traffic light, the clouds opened up and drenched us again with a huge down pour soaking us to the core one again (dammit)!
We parked in the covered parking garage the Edgewater Casino and remained there for a few minutes warming up next to the heat coming off of our engines. From there we hit the buffet at the Edgewater and filled our gullets again with shrimp, prime rib, pork ribs, fried chicken, fettuccini and lots of tasty desserts. Feeling stuffed we needed to walk it off and headed outside where the rain had let up and a blue sky peered through the shifting clouds.
By now many of the Vendors on the strip had either packed up or closed up their booths with exception of those over at the Regency Hotel where we ran into Mark & Holly and their large booth of leather and biker goods.
A hot chick twirling a hula-hoop was in front of her booth showing off her talents and a cutie in fishnet stockings and a black thong playing air guitar posed for a shot or two (I really love my job)... From there we headed back over to “Hogs & Heifers” to get in on more of that action but didn't stay too long as the uniqueness of the place had been over-crowded with last minute partiers and music that was way too loud and fuzzy.
Knowing it was our last night in Laughlin we cruised the strip once more before heading back to Tom's to hang out with him and get some rest before our morning departure back to civilization in southern California.
By 9:am we were fueled up and heading west on I-40 amongst several other Bikers that seemed to be in a hurry to get home passing everyone by weaving in and out of traffic. We got stuck behind a mini-truck/RV in the left lane that was doing everything he could do to maintain a good speed as he couldn't get in front of a big rig to move over, causing a huge build up of bikes and cars behind them. Finally we saw the opportunity to pass them and speed off ahead leaving the pack behind.
We exited Kelbaker Road back to R-66 and stopped at Amboy again before making our way to 29 Palms for gas and breakfast. Not taking any chances on bad food, we went to Denny's and ordered up a pretty good meal and stayed there for over an hour recalling our adventures.
We made it back to the 10 freeway and stopped at Hadley's for a date shake and a brief stop over. Chip had never been there either. As we sat there enjoying our shake Chip looked up and spotted a Movie Star, Gary Oldman. At first we weren't sure it was him, but as he walked by I called out his name and he acknowledged us and came over and said hello extending his hand in a friendly manner. He was gracious but we didn't want to cause a scene and invade on his privacy (too much) and he sat with his lady friend and enjoyed their shake as well.
As we were exited the door, Gary spoke up and said, “you guys be careful, drive safely”. What an end to great trip. A ride through the desert to Laughlin, met the Cougarzz Rock Band, Good Food, Oatman, Hanging out with Old Friends, met New Friends and even met a World Famous Major Movie Star! I guess you can say we had a great time!!! In deed we did! We are already planning for our trip next year! Look out... here we come!