Monday, 2 May 2011

Day 13: Needles - Las Vegas NV

The Needles hotel I stayed in last night was good but not near anything, so I decided that a take away pizza and an early night were called for, as I was starting to feel the effects of too many late nights.
The view from my hotel - nothing for miles!
A leisurley start today and my second detour off Route 66. I wanted to go to Laughlin (a small casino town in Nevada) to see what was left of the River Run. This is a huge Harley Davidson bike rally that's held every year. I've been to a few Rallies in the UK and in Europe, but I wanted to see how the Americans do it on a big scale.

This rally has some grisly  history. Back in 2002 there was a fracas when two rival motorcycle clubs clashed in Harrah's casino. At the end of what became known as the Laughlin Riot, 2 people had been shot dead and another stabbed to death. It's a good job the Aussies weren't there or something might have kicked off!

As I was riding the 30 or so miles to Laughlin there was a constant stream of bikes going the other way. I was beginning to wonder if there'd be anything left when I got there? For the non bikers reading this, let me explain something. There's a thing that happens when two bikers pass each other on the road: they wave or nod or in some other way acknowledge each other. In the UK it is usually a cheery wave or a nod. Here they put their left hand out in a laid back manner. In Europe they stick their left leg out (very strange at first, but you soon get used to it!). It's a way of expressing brotherhood and solidarity with other two wheeled road users (but not scooter riders, oh no). Without a single exception, every one I've passed on a bike has waved, or returned my wave. If there's a passenger on the back I normally get two waves in return. Until yesterday that is. Since then, the wave ratio has dropped to about 1 in 3 people. Waving to fellow bikers must not be very cool in western Arizona.

But going back to what I was saying, there were so many bikes coming the other way that my left arm was getting very tired from waving to them all, and with only a 1 in 3 return rate I was starting to wonder if it was worth it, but I persisted.

On arriving in Laughlin I could see that there was still loads of bikes and things to see and do, and hundreds of t-shirt and biker apparel stalls selling their wares. I was sorely tempted to buy some leather chaps - but managed to resist. It must have been amazing on Saturday night when it would have been at its peak.
I'm glad I've got my flag, there's so many black Harleys here it makes it easier to find mine.

If Gillian comes with me next time we'll be needing one of these for her shoes and handbags.
After a long time looking around I set of for Las Vegas. The highway twists and turns its way through the mountainous desert to get to Vegas, with stunning views along the way.
The road into Laughlin. I probably shouldn't have stopped to take this.
Coming in from the south, the road crests a hill, and all of a sudden there it is, Las Vegas laid out on front of you, with the distinctive Stratosphere at one end rising above everything else.

I'm staying for 2 nights at the Riviera hotel - one of the older ones - but the room is good, and the front doors of the casino open right onto the sidewalk of the Strip. Lots of the newer hotels are set back so far  that you have to take a hike before you even get to the Strip! I was a little worried about what it would be like, as the room rate I got was so cheap (booked through British Airways Holidays, plug, plug), but it's fine, with a pool view.

So this afternoon I took a stroll down Las Vegas Blvd, sussing out the best places for a game of poker tonight. I think I'll stay local and enter a tournament here in this hotel. Hopefully it'll pay for the trip.

As you'll notice from the title of this post, today has been my 13th day, in the saddle, pretty much all day, every day. I didn't think I'd say this, but tomorrow I can have a day off the bike, and I'm quite looking forward to it! There's a good chance I won't post anything tomorrow either, so dear readers, please don't worry about me, and I'll post an update the day after, when I'll have resumed my Route 66 journey.

The route taken today, and more pictures are here:

Today's Mileage: 158
Total Trip Mileage: 2637


  1. Great reading, sounds like you are having a great time. We have done several road trips on our Harley ( shipped it out from the UK 3 times)
    so have visited many of the places you have been too. but have never done 66 from start to finish ( yet !!! )
    Enjoy the rest of your trip !!!
    B & J

  2. Glad you got to experience some of Laughlin's biker weekend. Thursday I-40 - 66 was packed with bikers heading east, and Sunday, just the opposite. Too bad about the wave thing, sounds like a great thing to do.

    Sounds like you're having a great trip!

    Madeline (Newberry Springs)

  3. B&J, I did consider bringing my bike out, but would have been as expensive as hiring for 3 weeks, and would have been without it before and after the trip for a while. Who did you use to ship yours?


  4. Madeline, Yes I'm having a great rip, and have now started riding up the coast to San Francisco. The waving has picked up again, so it must just be around Laughlin that they don't do it!