We hit the Laughlin River Run
again this year and there seems to be some changes afoot. Even as a newbie to the event having only been going for a few years, I'm starting to really pick up on some bitching from even local residents about the whole affair.
To start though, we had a blast. What's not to like about getting together with tens of thousands of your closest friends? We took of from SoCal on Thursday as usual. The weather here had been mild to a little chilly in the mornings leading up to the ride and the one thing we had hoped not to do was to drag the leathers out. It really does suck to load the bike down with leather only to peel everything off 4 hours later in the middle of the desert and not put them back on again for the entire weekend.
On Thursday morning though, we woke up to sunny skies but temps in the high 50's. We figured by the time we hit the road around 9 it would warm up a little but we wound up wearing leather jackets anyway. We left the chaps at home but were glad we had the jackets as it never really warmed up enough to take them off until we got to Goffs.
We took our time and pulled into the Riverside in Laughlin around 3:30 after having stopped on Needles Hwy for some "refreshments" we needed for our room. We found out a couple of years ago that there are no glass bottles sold anywhere in the casino strip area for the weekend so we usually pull into a market for our supply of beverages.
As usual, we paid the $100 for a weekends worth of reserved parking right in front of the main entrance. If you have never been and ever wind up staying at the Riverside (the only place I can comment on), I say definitely at least pay for secure parking and if you can afford it, reserved parking. It's worth it for the piece of mind and even though the temps were very mild this year, there's nothing quite like hopping onto your bike after it's been sitting in the 110 degree sun which is what you get if you park in the general parking section.
And speaking of mild temps....wow...what a great weekend for riding. The past two years have been brutal with temps in the 100's and last year was beyond reality with highs above 110. Not what I consider good riding weather by any stretch. But this year was perfect, highs in the mid 80's to low 90's. Good enough that my wife said she wanted to make the ride out to Oatman even after having sworn she'd never go again after last years nightmare.
Our plans for riding for the weekend were to keep everything unplanned except for Oatman and a possible ride out to another ghost town called Chloride. As it turned out, we blew off Chloride for another (mis)adventure I'll rant about later but we did hit Oatman on Friday
As usual, Oatman was filled with people but as in Laughlin, the number was way down from years past so we were able to find a place for the bikes without a hassle. Our friends who rode with us this year had never been to Oatman so they got off on the donkeys (mules? burros? jackasses?) that cruise the streets. It never ceases to amaze me that these little guys have no fear of anyone or anything. One hilarious scene was someone cruising up the street on his scoot with two little dogs sitting in a trailer he had behind him. As he was stuck in traffic, they spotted one of the donkeys standing in the middle of the road and started yapping uncontrollably. They were frothing at the mouth and I honestly thought they'd self combust from their combined angst. Clearly amused or curious, the donkey walked a little closer to them and started a stare down. The dogs were going insane, hopping up and down, yapping and probably pissing themselves to boot. Traffic was stuck so the rider wasn't going anywhere and neither was the donkey. After what seemed like 5 minutes but was probably closer to 1 or 2, the donkey decided he'd had enough of these two little mutts and started to walk away. They kept barking and after he'd taken about 10 steps he stopped again and turned to give them one last look before moving on. We were hysterical. A great Oatman moment.
This little fella never even woke up while numerous riders took their pictures with him.
After hanging out and having our one beer each due to the ever expanding police presence and the sobriety checkpoints, we headed back into town. The rest of the weekend was in typical Laughlin style, checking out the vendors, watching my buddy spend a few hundred dollars...lol...and on Friday night, heading to the tattoo "convention" at one of the hotels. It was pretty small but my wife did find a cool artist who she's going to have add more ink to her back.
Saturday featured a cluster fuck of a poker run and on Sunday we headed back home.
Some notes about the run: After the shootout a few years back, the cops have become more of a force every year. Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro cop and would prefer to have some of them around over rival mc's having it out with drawn weapons but there has to be a middle ground. Maybe it's because most of our riding was not around the casino area but I felt there were more cops last year. From what I was told I was definitely wrong on that. Even employees of the hotels were griping that if it keeps up, they'll wind up killing the run completely. Whether it was due to the heavy handed tactics the cops are using or the fact that the economy sucks and many people cannot afford the rip off room rates, attendance this year was WAY down. I'd say it might have been 70% of last years numbers. Times are hard for many folks and that brings me to my last point.
Pretty much the only way to book a room at one of the main casinos for the run is through some corporation called Dal-Con Enterprises. I have no idea who these people are but at some point, they or the casinos are going to take a reality check on the prices they charge. We stayed at the Riverside and while we are fortunate enough to be able to afford it, $600 for three nights at a hotel that normally charges about $75 per night is a total joke. The fact that you get a free bandana, pin, are entered in the poker run and get two tickets to a crappy concert by a crappy 70's geezer band does not justify it. Conversely, at Vegas Bike Week in October, rates are very reasonable and might even be better at the selected hotels than if you came without booking for the event. We ran into too many local residents of Bullhead City who felt that the cops and the prices were killing the event.
Note to Dal-Con and others involved: Get a grip on the number of police and take a look at the package rates!