Posts Tagged ‘Lake Havasu City’

Tropicana Express - Laughlin, NV

“High on a mountain, wind blowing free
Thinking of the days that used to be”

Riding from Las Vegas to Laughlin reminded me of that Stan Ridgway song of “Mexican Radio” fame.  We felt the hot wind on our shoulders as the group rode through the Mojave Desert, and this number is stuck in my head, perfectly fitting the experience.

We arrived at the Laughlin River Run prior to the rally hitting full speed.  The streets were eerily absent of motorcycles and the few open vendor booths didn’t have a large parade of people yet.  It could have been mistaken for just any other day along Casino Drive.  Our plans didn’t have us staying but one night in Laughlin as we had a lot of far reaching scenery in Arizona to cover.

A quick scan after returning indicated that attendance was around 35,000 people who showed up to take in the festivities which was slightly up from last year.  The economy did make an impact as there were about half the normal number of vendors in the casino parking lots.  And other than four DUI arrests and a new 2010 H-D motorcycle catching fire due to an oil leak it was largely an uneventful weekend.  Certainly different from the 90+ arrests back in 2007.

I like to try and think up biker quotes.  You know the type.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a dead battery.  But I don’t have anything for thirty degrees and snow which is what we hit!  On Thursday we were only on the South Rim for a couple hours.  Deployed at the Bright Angel Lodge and the weather made it down right uncomfortable.

Grand Canyon

Someone in the posse stated they hadn’t been there since the ‘70s.  Needless to say, the Grand Canyon hadn’t changed.  It’s vast!  Far larger than you can imagine, almost too big to comprehend.  A huge hole with giant mountains amidst the vast valleys.

After taking in the frigid panorama scene, our plan was to limit the viewpoints and return to warmth.  Fog prevented any visibility for the first 30 minutes, but then the views turned awesome with the sheer walls nearby emblazoned red.  One could get out on the edge and look straight down.  And that’s what it is, straight down.  A cliff.  The sides of the Grand Canyon don’t slope they are vertical.  You’re just feet away from an abyss.

Posse At Grand Canyon

Then suddenly there is a realization that you’re standing in snow and could slip.  And did you really want to go this way?  This isn’t how it’s supposed to be in America.  The land of helmets, seatbelts and airbags, where we release our children into society in bubble wrap, worried they might get bruised by the slightest of contact.  America is safe, we’re protected.  Clearly they didn’t get the memo at the Canyon.  Angled and uneven paths meant that a stumble or a slight slip and you’re a goner!  We stepped away from the cliff and made our way to the restaurant to warm up. In route we stopped to talk with some riders who traveled from Germany and couldn’t believe the snow.  We overnighted outside the canyon park in Tusayan and watched the snow fall during dinner.

Skull Valley Arizona

On Friday we were looking to ride in some warmer weather and wasted no time in making our way south.  We had a chili dog lunch at the famous Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman then it was off to Lake Havasu.  We arrived to witness a large number of people and performance boats in town for the Desert Storm races.  Complete with stereo and shoot out contests for the fastest boat in the west.  On Saturday morning based on some local feedback the night before we decided to back track to Highway 93 and head south toward Phoenix then take SR97 and SR96 through Skull Valley.  There we were amidst the lonely cacti and occasional sage brush riding through sweeping canyons on highway 93.

There is a captivating beauty on this road along with solitude as few cagers venture out this way.  Then we turned onto SR97 which provided plenty of curves and twisty tarmac.  With quick elevation changes it was a great escape as the broad sweepers brought us face-to-face with the so-called “Arizona motorcycle experience.”

We got a taste of history in the small town of Skull Valley.  It’s home to the Prescott Pandemonium Motorcycle Rally and we grabbed burgers at the local diner which as luck would have it opened only a couple days earlier.  We were rewarded with some good food and great service!

We continued riding up to Prescott on AZ 89A and then through the Prescott National Forest.  The small town of Jerome reminded of Virginia City, NV as it has a very similar mining history.  Our view of the town was from the motorcycle seat and I hope to visit again when I have more time to take in the scene.  We continued on 89A to Sedona hoping to find a motel.  Unfortunately with Sedona being the second most popular tourist destination after the Grand Canyon we had to push on to Flagstaff because rooms were full.  The 45 minute ride up through Oak Creek Canyon was a cool sub-50 degrees, but the sun setting provided spectacular photo’s of the red sandstone formations.  We roared right past the Mogollon Rim rest area and view the valley, rather headed directly to a Best Western on Route 66 and jumped into a hot shower!

Sedona, Arizona

On our final day of travel we had to ride back to Las Vegas and drop the motorcycles.  Heading out of Flagstaff on I-40 becomes a little “boring” with about a 2000 feet drop in less than an hour and nothing but scrubland as far as eye can see.  The 75MPH speed limit kept us alert especially trying to dodge the numerous ruts and pot holes made from so many semi-trucks.  This is the worst interstate road I’ve traveled and maybe the worst highway in Arizona?  At Kingman, we rolled onto highway 93 toward Hoover Dam and the scrubland became most flat from Grasshopper Junction until we got within 10 miles of the dam.  We rolled across the dam and made our way into Las Vegas for the motorcycle drop with KGM Motorcycle Transport who did a great job and a shout out to Mike!

With bikes loaded and temperatures nearing 90 degrees the snow in the canyon was a distant memory as refreshments in the Hard Rock came to our minds.

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On our 3rd day we rode to a place in the sun called Lake Havasu City.  The Colorado River flows south from Lake Mohave and runs about 50 miles from the David Dam to the Parker Dam between Laughlin and Bullhead City through Lake Havasu to Parker.  It’s a boating waterway paradise with shore lined motels, condo’s and rental homes for miles and miles.  Lake Havasu got its start as an Army Air Corp R&R camp during WWII and now has over 1000 businesses, 2 newspapers and a college.  The first thing we noticed coming out of Laughlin was the wind really picked up overnight and we were seeing wind gusts of up to 30 MPH.  Great riding when it’s behind you, but makes for a long day when you’re bucking that strong of gusts.

One of the posse met up with some OC buddies and did the “Sandbar”.  When it comes to a place on the water with post-college crazies the Lake Havasu sandbar has a head shaking, smile-making reputation.  People head to the sandbar to tie up and party together and sometimes the masses get so massive you can walk from boat to boat without ever touching water. 

This is a photo (left) from a couple years ago, but not much changes except the size of the swimsuits!

The larger group reached Lake Havasu in time for lunch and we enjoyed the scene on the lake as well as checked out the London Bridge. Yes, it’s THE London Bridge.  In 1962, London Bridge was in a state of disrepair. Built in 1831, the bridge couldn’t handle the increasing traffic demands across the Thames River. The British government decided to put the bridge up for sale, and Robert McCulloch, Founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation, submitted the winning bid of $2.46M.  The bridge was dismantled, and each stone was numbered. Everything was shipped to Long Beach, Ca., and then trucked to Lake Havasu City. Reconstruction started September 1968, with a ceremony including the Lord Mayor of London, who laid the cornerstone. On October 10, 1971, the bridge was dedicated.

London Bridge crosses a narrow boating channel (Bridgewater Channel) that connects with Thompson Bay on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu. On the Google Map aerial view, the “A” mark is the London Bridge Resort, and just to the left is McCulloch Boulevard and the location of London Bridge.  It’s a good bet that on any given day the Bridgewater Channel will be busy with people and boats filling the shoreline and when we got there it was no exception.  There were large crowds of boaters with big block motors and women with inversely proportional swimsuits to the size of boat motors, all enjoying the blazing heat. We had lunch at Barley Brothers Grill (Island Mall & Brewery) and watched the boaters in the channel.  We made our return trip to Laughlin via Needles fighting the wind the entire way. 

That night the headliner at the Aquarius (old Flamingo Hilton) was Foreigner.  Led by British rocker Mick Jones they released the self-titled album in 1977.  The album sold more than 5M copies with hits like “Cold as Ice”, “Feels Like The First Time”, and later with hits like “Jukebox Hero” and “Head Games”.  Lou Gramm was the original lead singer of the band, but currently Kelly Hansen (formerly of Hurricane) is the lead showman.  That 90 minute set at the Aquarius was most memorable.

Day 4 is up next…

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