By Perry Nelson, Photos by George Childress and Perry Nelson
I was covering up the seat on my Bobcat (a small tractor) hours before my Laughlin River Run trip and bam!! I fell off the bucket and, in turn injured 2- of my ribs , ouch…man…Really?…Ugh. My plans instantly changed, now I’m taking the Truck and loading up the 09 Dyna. Traci was not going on this trip because she had finals in her physical therapy classes, and she wasn’t going to let me ride with a chest injury, at night, for 4hrs…and she would worry…it’s nice to be loved.
Off I go. It was a beautiful drive up to Laughlin from my hometown of Phoenix AZ.. It started to get dark about an hour before I got there, the sunset was just amazing. As I approached Bullhead City, still on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, I noticed a Glow- I felt like I was in the scene from Close Encounters when Richard Dreyfuss first discovered the alien spaceship… Laughlin looked surreal. It was so cool, the glow, then the lights coming up between the mountains were amazing. The closer I got the more it looked like daylight, this city was alive at night.
The first thing I had to do was get my bike off my truck… I had my Quick Throttle agenda. And I had a beautiful room at the Riverside Resort overlooking the Colorado River with a beautiful view of my beloved Arizona…
Now to get the bike off my truck. I needed a little help. I had ramps. The Hotel staff couldn’t help me because they would be liable in case the bike dropped and was damaged.. . soooo I grab a couple guys, that were walking by, and enlisted their help. What I failed to realize was the fact that these guys were a little buzzed. I never thought an 800 lb motorcycle could go down a ramp on that kind of an angle…a couple more guys came over to help when they saw my bike doing a 45 degree lean on the ramp… We did our sloppy handshakes and “lifelong buddy” goodbyes… Bikes off the Truck …(when loading bike to leave on Sunday I found a perfect retaining wall I could back up to, no ramps needed).
The Riverside Resort/Casino is HUGE…its very easy to get lost, which I did several times before finding my room…and locating the River Run Registration (Starview Room).
Back on track I had to meet MJ Smith (MJ) to get my media pass. MJ is the Executive Director of Laughlin Tourism Commission. OK I’m thinking MJ is going to be a big cigar smoking guy waving his arms around, yelling at everyone…To my surprise MJ was an attractive gal in her 30’s, turns out she is with child, and she was so nice and helpful. This was part of a trend; the same feel I got at The Rocky Point Roundup last year. The people putting on this event: MJ Smith (Chamber of Commerce), Joe O’Day (Dal-Con Promotions- “the whole event”), Michael Brown (Harrahs), Greg (Riverside entertainment) and a bunch of others were the mellowest, calmest, “Nothings a Big Deal” people I’d ever met… Especially at a huge 4-day Extravaganza like The Laughlin River Run.
I would continually get the same response from all of these main players of this Rally: “Are you having fun?”, This is fun isn’t it?”, “If you can make it that’s fine-if you can’t that’s ok too”. How can anybody not enjoy themselves with an event where such an interest in what people like is taken into consideration!
Where’s the big mean guy with the cigar? I did see some big guys with cigars, but, they were nice too, how could this be? Isn’t there supposed to be people here in Laughlin losing their life savings? Gambling? Maybe there was someone there doing that, I didn’t see it. Everybody I met was here to have a good time.
After I got my Jason Aldean pass I was feelin it, and a couple female cops drove by me in a squad car, I was putting on the “swag”, and they were pointing to their heads, I thought they liked my hair so now I was really feelin it… then they got closer and yelled HELMET! Sh-t !! I forgot my helmet, POP goes my bubble…I waved. Ugh! Again I forgot there was a helmet law on the Nevada side of the river. I guess I go buy a helmet, they had ‘em here in Laughlin and they got em here cheap… $20.00 . That makes 12 cheap helmets in my collection…
Thursday night > Jason Aldean: WOW! what a performer, I guess there is a reason he has won the Academy of Country Music Award’s Male Vocalist of the Year 2-years in a row. I’ve never seen that many women go crazy over a Country Singer… Traci (my wife) bought me Jason Aldean’s new CD so I was kinda familiar with some of his songs. “1994” my favorite- and he killed it!. He’s got the Cool of Kid Rock and the stage presence of Garth Brooks. If he comes to your town or a rally near by don’t miss his show. With the city lights in the background I will remember that concert for a long time. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Great White, Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys still to come.
In the Days that followed I went on several Runs: The American Heroes Charity Poker Run, started at the Tropicana, was just fantastic. Celebrating Route 66 an amazing feel of history….
You can just imagine Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley cruzing next to you in a 57 Cadillac… This run ended with prizes food and entertainment at Mother Road HD in Kingman, AZ.
Earlier that day I checked out Kuryakyn, a huge aftermarket company started in 1989, to see some of the cool new bolt-on stuff. Fender tips to tail lights and hard saddlebag extensions are all cool and new! And guess what, Bling is in! For me, I like all the lights I can have at night…Pick up their Catalog, it’s worth a look.
Fast forward >>> Party put on by the Southern California Harley Dealers Association really set the tone for a great rally. John Paliwoda (So Cal H-D Dealer Assoc Executive Director) and company pulled all the stops on this one. Prime rib and a totally danceable band, I got pictures to prove it, really made for a fun night. Some pictures may need adult supervision>>> Just kidding. Thanks go out to these leaders in the motorcycle community for their support of the Laughlin River Run.
With a full belly I went back to my Hotel (Riverside) and I remembered Great White was playing there so I pushed 2 on the elevator and there I was at the entrance to the Great White show, I met a guy named Greg sitting by the shirt sales. He seemed like a nice guy and I started talking to him, pretty candidly, about Great White and, how I grew up with them and how my wife just texted me the entire song “Save all your love” the night before, …and, you know, the fire where 100 some people died at their show In Rhode Island in Feb. 2003…It’s really sad but he (Greg) told me they have been living with that for years and after talking to Greg, who turned out to be the “Entertainment director at Riverside”, about the “Now infamous” Station Nightclub fire; I kind of understood that it was a very “Tragic Accident”. Greg being one of the many really cool people involved with the Rally I alluded to earlier in this piece.
After further investigation I found that guitarist Ty Longly (playing with Jack Russell at the time) along with 100 people died in the fire. I could write a book on the amount of things that went on with this band since 1977. In short there are now 2- Great Whites: Jack Russell’s Great White and …Great White. Jack Russell is the Original Lead singer…
Great White here in Laughlin contains original members Steven and Michael and they were awesome in concert but I have to admit I missed Jack Russell’s voice; I talked with them and met them again at the Ms. Laughlin contest. I do understand why they broke ties but times change people change… ya never know… smell a reunion?
Fast forward>>> Saturday—the Custom Bike show at the Colorado Belle. The Colorado Belle looks like a real riverboat turned into a Laughlin Hotspot for partiers, gamblers and at this particular time bikers. About 30 custom bikes were rolled through a 4’ doorway, I don’t know how Joe O’Day pulled it off but he did. What a beautiful scene– hot custom bikes with a background of the Colorado River the Beautiful Mountains of Arizona and the small town of Bullhead city with river taxis constantly going back and forth from Nevada to Arizona n back to Nevada……
The Calendar show and the David Mann show, both in California, are beautiful venues but this….this venue is in a league of its own.
Catch Part 2 in next month’s issue.