Music & Mayhem, Burros & Burnouts – 2016 Laughlin River Run delivers again
Story & Photos- Pastor Fred Z
We once again had an amazing time at Laughlin River Run! This is our “13th notquite- Annual Invasion of the River Run” – as Esther and I got married there in 2002. We missed one year (closing escrow on our home in 2008) – so it was actually our 14th Wedding Anniversary. We had about a dozen BFC members join us from CA, AZ, and even a couple of brothers who hit rain, snow, and hail – as they rode down from the Four Corners area of Colorado.
With threats of bad weather, the numbers were down a bit. To be honest it made walking around the casinos, vendor areas and sidewalks a lot easier. There’s always an upside to every downside, right?! Esther and I arrived at the Edgewater on Thursday night and checked in on our So. California Harley Davidson Laughlin package deal – which includes: a 3 night stay (at a discount), the Early Bird Party Package: which includes Admission to the Kick-Off Party, Entrance to the Charity Ride, Commemorative patch and pin, etc. – That deal can’t be beat! Esther and I had a beautiful (and quiet) view from our Edgewater room, of the Colorado River and the mountains across the bridge in Arizona.
Then Don (our new AZ South leader) and his wife Becky – they moved there from Oregon- met me out front of the Edgewater. This was Don & Becky’s 1st Laughlin experience, and they had a blast (and it won’t be their last).
We headed for the BBQ Wagon that the So. California HD Dealer’s Association included in their Early Bird packet – for the amazingly delicious: Tri-Tip (my favorite), pulled chicken & pulled pork BBQ. My wife doesn’t eat meat – so Mr. Carnivore (me) enjoyed the Tri-Tip that night, and a plate of Pulled Chicken to go… Heavenly ! Ahhh – the benefits of being married to a beautiful Vegan (who only eats fish) J.
The Kick-off Party rocked with the BBQ, free drinks (water & soda’s for our crew). Plus free Dunkin Donuts coffee every morning. The Hogs & Heifers outdoor Saloon Bar nearby had some awesome rock & roll blasting out of the speakers, and it was “the place to be”. When going to Laughlin River Run make sure you get the HD Dealer’s Assn. packet as you really get the “Most Bang-for Your Hard-Earned Bucks”! It has over $100 in room, food and drink extras, and it’s the So. Cal. HD Dealers Assn. official promo.
Oatman revisited— On Friday morning we grabbed our coffee and hit the showers. By this time the Colorado guys: Chris & Bob (who were also Laughlin 1st timers), and Don and Becky were ready to see the sights. None of them had been to Oatman yet – so we set off on our journey to see the beloved burros, and the western-style town. We always stop in to visit our friend: “Yellow Hammer” (a real Native American) who makes some beautiful jewelry, and has some of the funniest stories we’ve ever heard. His shop is a must see – where you can get a great deal for your lady, and meet a legend at the same time. The Oatman burro parade is always great. We turn onto the world famous Route 66 to ride the range and see the sights of the old west. The burros (who literally roam the town free)- were totally excited to see us again! There were some new babies that were adorable, and it was great to get all of our friends together in Oatman.
“Ink Mayhem” Tattoo Convention was our afternoon destination at the Colorado Belle, which featured both legendary and also up & coming artists slinging the ink. Larry Topping of Evolution Tattoo in Bullhead organizes this and several other tattoo events each year, this one having ongoing contests, awards & prizes during the entire 4 day show. As a severely decorated veteran tattoo fan, I of course was the right man to cover the tattoo convention. I visited every booth showing them my LA Ink tattoo pics –as I got an incredible BFC logo tattoo on my back on the 1st season of LA Ink by Kim Saigh. And yes – Esther hates me to take off my clothes in public so I have all the pics on my phone! I zeroed into the booths & introduced myself and showed them my tattoo pics. So they invited me into their booths – and I got some great shots of both the artists and the clients who were excited to show us their latest artwork.
Friday evening we hit the “Claim Jumper” in the Golden Nugget for dinner. Esther likes good food, and so do I… so we try to hit at least one decent restaurant while in Laughlin, and there are dozens at the casinos. We topped it off with a Starbuck’s Americano (my drug of choice) – and I pack my own Stevia.
After dinner we also enjoyed some amazing blues and rock musicians at the Colorado Belle: Preston Shannon, John Earl and the Boogeyman Band, and my personal favorite: Chris Hiatt.
The Chris Hiatt Band is one of the most amazing, and talented bands that I’ve ever seen. Chris has done “Stevie Ray Vaughn” impersonations for years… And if you closed your eyes – you felt like you were at a Stevie Ray show for awhile & C.H.’s original blues concert for the other 2/3 of their time slot. Chris’s lead solos are almost note for note on most of the SRV tunes. Chris’s voice is very strong, and he can hit all the high notes with ease. His bass player plays lead solos on his bass – and the drummer was incredible as well. For those who like rock and roll – they totally tore it up with some C.H. original tunes, as well as Hendrix, Zeppelin and more. The Chris Hiatt Band is extraordinary.
Our favorite Quick Throttle vendors– On Saturday morning – I went to say Hi to, and take pics of our Quick Throttle vendors at the Riverside and Colorado Belle vendor spots. It was great to see my buddy Steve Shapiro, David and his crew from Leather HQ in Vegas, Law Tigers and others. The legendary Custom Bike Show at the Colorado Belle- was awesome. Dozens of bikes of all flavors were in the viewing area. Some with the bling everywhere, others with 30 inch front wheels, Shovelheads, and a really sweet early 60’s Panhead.
Victor McLaglen Motor Corps — Saturday afternoon featured the crowdpleasing and incredible old school stunt team. Amazing acrobatics and riding skills.
Then the new school stunt team of “Unknown Industries” put on a mind blowing HD show. The 3 riders did some incredible vertical wheelies and circular burnouts on their bikes. As a friend of their management team and the riders, they allowed me total access in the fenced off areas, and yes I got some awesome shots. The crowd screamed their lungs out as these strong young men whipped their chain-drive FXR’s into “Extreme-Frenzy” mode – and they did not disappoint those who gathered. The one hour show features some absolutely amazing riding skills and lots of jaw-dropping gasps, laughs, and even some cat-calling screams.
Dal-Con Promotions did an amazing job working with all for some stellar entertainment for the rally attendees. We’ll be back in 2017.
Roaming Around at River Run Laughlin Close-Up
Story and photos by Ray Seidel
Past River Runs have been either cold enough to need several layers of clothing to get there plus rain gear, or hot enough so shorts, T’s, and flip flops were all that was needed. This year it was cool, cloudy, somewhat windy, and an occasional drizzle. Not too bad. My ride out of the Inland Empire was uneventful; the only stop other than fuel was a hearty breakfast at Tom’s Farms in Corona for a breakfast platter. If you pass this way in the morning, this will fill you up for the entire trip – 3 eggs, a mountain of bacon, toast, country potatoes and a tall OJ….
Friday night was Creedence Clearwater Revisited at the Edgewater at 8pm. At that hour I was ready for a snack to tide me over. I stopped by one of the many vendors and ordered a brat with fries, and oh my gosh – way better than any vendor food needed to be. Hot, juicy, with baby pickles and onions plus big seasoned fries. Then off to the Edgewater for the concert. This is located outside the building to the side in a sort of giant tent. Easy enough to find – near the parking garage, you won’t have any trouble if you hit a concert there next year. These guys are popular, and the room was pretty well packed. The two original members quipped they are now more popular with the younger crowd than the older one. Well, at 72 years of age, they’ve been doing this for 51 years they confessed! The crowd went wild hearing all their old favorites, and that included me. This was certainly a juicy attraction for the River Run attendees.
Looking for an Indian Springfield— Saturday I roamed the various vendors, and I had a special item on my agenda this year. If you read my initial review of the 2016 Indian Springfield, you’ll recall I loved the bike with one major reservation: there was a huge delay in the throttle response. Now, this bike came fresh out of the warehouse with me being the first person to ride it, so I felt almost certainly this was something unique to THIS particular bike, as I have not experienced a lag with any other Indian, be it Chief or Scout. Asking one of the Indian vendors to fire up a Springfield that was on hand, he happily agreed, I twisted the throttle, and it was spot on PERFECT! So, there you have it – if you get one with ANY delay, just have the dealer make the adjustment. Just to CONFIRM this for myself, I had other Indians started at other locations, same result: perfect! (See full review in July issue).
Searching for the perfect pulled-pork sandwich, I had found just that at a vendor at the annual Rods & Rails in Perris, CA every summer, but it’s been missing for some time. Finding a vendor truck in Laughlin with that as its specialty, I thought I’d give it a try. Pulled-pork sandwich at $7.50 and I order one from the girl inside the truck window. I see lemonade is $2.50, so I tell her I’ll have one of those also. The price has now gone up to $22. Okay, hold the lemonade please. The price now goes back down to $7.50. I’m thinking math skills for these girls could be improved. The girl pulls out a bun, plops the pulled-pork into it, and then squirts on a layer of nacho cheese on top of the pull-pork rather than BBQ sauce. I’m now speechless. Luckily a different girl that knows how these are made steps in to make the correction. Do we really want to pay $15 an hour for fast food workers? Anyway, the sandwich itself was pretty good.
H-D Demo rides were going on full tilt in the vendor area. However my wandering took me inside the Golden Nugget– I was in search of a particular video slot machine, and there it was: SONS OF ANARCHY. Having covered the show for its entire 7 year run for Quick Throttle, I have a somewhat unique connection to it, and thought I’d check the game out. There were two, side by side, the left one occupied. The backs of the chairs are decorated like the back of the club’s cuts. I sat down and asked the guy next to me if he’d had any luck. The reply was a crestfallen “No.” And he got up and left. (Note: I have seen on Facebook people who have made a bundle at this game, so don’t let that scare you.) I looked the game over to see if it was worth a try. This is a penny machine, the kind that requires a whole bunch of squares to match. Minimum bet is 60, max is 300 (or 60 cents to 3 dollars).
Now, how to play and bet at gambling goes beyond the scope of this magazine, however as this is about LAUGHLIN, and my having been employed by a casino myself, I will share the tiniest bit of information. Foremost – a professional gambler who knows everything there is to know about gambling – EVERYTHING there is to know, will take a thousand dollars to a casino and hope to win one hundred. John Doe will take a hundred and hope to win a thousand. People just don’t grasp how this works. It’s not how you play – it’s how you bet. To apply that to the SOA game, one always plays maximum bet. That’s $3. However to hope to get a return (on any slot machine) requires a minimum of 7 pulls/spins. That’s $21 to play the game; so I think I’ll go look at the Custom Bike Show outside. If you run across me in person, I’ll share the rest of how it all works.
Stepping over to the Custom Bike Show, the awards were given out at 3:00 Saturday. Places for 1st, 2nd ad 3rd, as best overall, not categories. 3rd place was a nice Panhead, and the owner was challenged to try to start it with two kicks. Well, not quite, but after a few it did fire up nicely. First place winner took a year to build, and the owner wisely called his wife up for being so understanding and join in the award.
At 4:30 it was award time for the Baddest Bagger Awards. On hand was Paul Yaffe of Bagger Nation who did some Q&A. A special custom was up for auction (worth $60k!) with all the money going to fight children’s cancer. As good as the bikes were at the Custom Bike Show, these were at an even higher level, be sure to check out the photos. Nice!
Still strolling among the vendors I came upon the Law Tigers where the girls were offering their handy covers for your registration and insurance (I already have one in my Jeep), and on display was our favorite [wink] Russian motorcycle with side car, the URAL. Tip, if you get a URAL, get an extra folder from the girls for your warranty. Just sayin’.
H-D Road King winner was drawn at the Tropicana, at 11pm Saturday night. A few aisles over a custom Indian Chief was also being given away. The Tropicana certainly wants happy bikers! By evening I’m tired of vendor food, but not tired of FAST food (it’s LATE!), so I sashay on in to Wild Style Burgers and Pizza. Although there’s an In & Out across the street, I want to try something different. Pizza is there that’s ready to serve, but I order a burger with smoked bacon & Swiss plus the usual fries and soda – $11.65. Twice what In & Out is, but it IS thick and juicy and right off the grill, so thumbs up if you pass by it next year.
Outside I noticed only one bike had been pulled over by Las Vegas’ Finest during my entire stay; it had been more so the cars being pulled over this year. From my observation, bikers had been well behaved this year. Last stop before getting back to my hotel, I saw a party was going on at the Chevron in the middle of town. Parked off the side was my favorite bike during my stay – a Johnny Cash themed bike. Besides graphics of The Man In Black on fender and tank, there was a microphone on the side of the engine. Nice touch!
Sunday: THE best time to go to Oatman, AZ. Right next door on Route 66, a scenic short hop to the old mining town where the descendents of the miners burros freely roam the town. THIS year it was a bonus for those who waited to go Sunday, as the Route 66 Fun Run overlapped with the end of the River Run. A long stream of great classic cars continued to roll through from Kingman where they stopped the day before. Some of these classics were also parked along the street, and while no one could get their camera out fast enough to capture this, there was a burro pooping on a Mustang. Not sure if this was a statement against its namesake’s cousin, but we hope the owner was careful getting back inside. Even so, this being Sunday, there was still plenty of room to park my bike, and no long lines for food or anything else. At high noon, it was time for the cowboys to have their shootout on the street, and the smell of…GUNSMOKE. How can you top this???
By early afternoon, once there’s a break in the parade of cars, I hit the road to get out of Oatman. I hop on Interstate 40 westbound and decide to fuel up at the Hi Sahara Oasis station at the Essex exit (Goffs Rd. on the sign), not far past Needles. If you’re short on coin you may want to gas up earlier as gas is at a premium here, being off the beaten path. However it’s a really nice oasis (as the name implies..) for bikers, with picnic tables and chairs, shade, misters when it gets hot, a fountain, plus plenty of travel necessities and supplies inside the A/C cooled interior, and nice big clean restrooms too. For Laughlin riders going home, a special cookout was there to feed those who wanted a fast hot snack. As fate would have it, a good stop for me as from this point west the Interstate was backed up.
Since Essex is actually on Route 66 connecting here (the actual town is 7 mi. south of I-40), it was no problem to just take The Mother Road home and bypass all the 18 wheelers and cages stuck on the Super Slab. Great fun as always – and we’ll see you out there next year for Laughlin #35.
–Additional photo, Brett Michaels concert, courtesy of Harrah’s.