Save the Family: Cliff Castle Casino

Story & Pics by Linda Dahl

Here it is, mid September and those of us from the desert are just dying to feel some heat between our legs and not beating on our backs. Then you go in to your favorite biker friendly location for a cold one and see the flyer for Cliff Castle Casino’s “Save the Family” ride. It’s in Camp Verde and that’s far enough north to feel the cool air, even if only in the evening. Suddenly what to do this weekend becomes a no brainer!

The decision part is to go up early Saturday morning, ride, come home, or go up Friday afternoon, gamble, party, play, go on a beautiful ride the next day and stay again Saturday night at the Lodge at Cliff Castle Casino and make a weekend out of it. Guess which I picked! Ok, so you are getting to know me a little too well.

It was definitely time. We all needed to pull our bikes out of the garage and just ride. Unfortunately, for me, getting there was a little precarious! I had the pleasure (for the first time) of feeling what it was like to completely NOT be seen by a cager. The whole riding on the right side grids to wake you up as you drift off the road has a new meaning when you are doing it to save your life! Yes, a-hole, I flipped you off because you did NOT SEE ME!! Still wiping the sweat from my brow, this was not going to spoil my weekend. I was way too excited about riding through some pines in cooler temps to be aggravated by an oblivious cage.

As we pulled in to Cliff Castle Casino, I could feel the excitement mounting. The tents were popping up in the vendor area, the stage was getting set for Foghat & the buzz was all around. The motorcycles were coming in by the dozens all looking for the same thing I was looking for. A great time, a great ride and the chance to win on the slot machines.

Friends of mine came up with their new paint jobs hoping to cash in on the $6000 prize money for the bike show. Check out the photos. Three of my friends won something in their category and one of our friends won best of show! He had a nice little paycheck, which I am sure went right back in to the slot machines! It’s all in fun and all in the name of charity.

Speaking of charity, yes, the honest reason we dusted off our saddle was to feel a little cool air as we cruised along a highway of twisties. But the important part of why we dusted off our saddles was to raise money for the Save The Family Foundation. This is where some of you may think this is the boring stuff, but this is the real reason we went on this ride. Savethefamily.org is a 501(C)3 organization that provides shelter, education, stability and having a final goal of self sufficiency to families that might otherwise be homeless. Save the Family has 162 housing units in the Phoenix area that includes apartment, duplexes and single family homes. The families that are provided housing are monitored on a frequent basis to make sure they are making forward progress. Save the Family provides vocational training, employment assistance, life skills, budget counseling, and anger management to name a few of the services offered. Last year they helped over 600 kids find a way to be successful. Hopefully, all of them will grow to be productive citizens. Lets face it, if only one of them never sees the criminal justice system wasn’t your donation well worth it?

This year things seemed a little confused maybe even disorganized from years prior. With all this economy talk, it’s understandable how event promoters will want to mix things up to make sure they are giving the rider the most for the money and giving the charity the biggest bang for the buck. No one is sure how to do this in these weird times. Because no has had to do it before.

Some will argue for promoters and some will argue for the biker. Some event promoters have upped their gate fee, some have stopped giving us ride pins, some have just stopped. I just hope all of us who ride keep coming together to have fun, share in an awesome event and in the end send a small check to great charities. After all, it really isn’t about the cost of that silly t-shirt, is it? It’s about the reason you really came to ride (I meant the charity, not the weather).

I have never been on this route before. In fact in all of my years in Arizona I never knew there was a back way to Lake Mary. Slow sweeping curves, tall pines, a couple little restaurants along the way and a beautiful lake always taunting on the left. Like I said, this was the first time I have done this route and thanks to Cliff Castle Casino, I am sure it won’t be my last.

This year we saw about 1300 bikes and I have to wonder what kept the rest of you on the couch. I hope next year the route is about the same and I hope Cliff Castle Casino brings all of you in to the mix. It was beautiful, well thought out and there was room enough for everyone!

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