Biker Blog » Norwalk Motorcycle Club Yuma Prison Run San Diego, California and Laughlin River Run

June 21st, 2010

April 16, 2010 – April 24, 2010

            Met up with Terry Cash at 6:00 a.m. and then met Bill Shannon at the Quick Mart soon afterwards. From there we took Gates Pass to the Ajo Highway and Bopp Road. As we were crossing the highway, we could smell Craig ‘Asshole’ Miller’s Black and Mild cigars from about fifty yards away. We chatted with Craig for a bit then started out bikes to head out to 49th Annual Yuma Prison Run. Well everyone started their bikes except Terry. See, Terry had had his bike dismantled for at least four months prior doing some much needed maintenance and restoration. He just recently got it back together and has not been able to take it out much prior to the Yuma Run. So instead of “VROOM, VROOM” all we hear is “click, click, click, click.” So Terry grabs some tools and I immediately grab my camera – another embarrassing moment captured for prosperity.

            It does not take Terry long to find the problem and after tightening down the battery cable, we are off. We take the long way to Yuma passing through Three Points, Sells and Ajo so that we can see and smell the freshly blooming wild flowers on the way. Beautiful ride and needless to say, we kill off a lot of bugs using our windshield and faces along the way. No bug is safe when the Old Geezers Patrol is making the rounds. I really enjoy riding with these old guys, cause they got bladders just as small as mine and are never too in a hurry to take a bathroom break.

            Once we reach Gila Bend, we meet up with Mike Leonard. Mike, Billy and Terry make up the country band called “Whiskey Bill and the Can’t Hardly Play Boys.” Unfortunately for Mike, he just had an operation on his foot and can’t drive his Indian Motorcycle. Fortunately for the band, he is hauling all their equipment in his toy hauler. Mike also can’t walk on his bum leg, so he bought a beer cooler/electric wheelchair that he putts around on. So he is never too far from a cold one.

            Once on the way to Yuma again, Craig and I get a little antsy riding in formation. I accelerate past Terry and Billy and the jail break is on. Craig hits the accelerator also and now the two of us are cruising about 80 to 85 down the interstate. Suddenly my bike starts to lose acceleration. This has occurred before and I chalk it up to a clogged air filter. I keep trying to push the bike for a few miles when I heard a loud rattling and then a huge bang. I look in my rear view mirror to see if I lost any parts and all I see is Craig coming out of a huge cloud of black smoke that apparently came from my pipes. I immediately pull over and Craig yells “You should have seen the six foot flame that just shot out from your exhaust. It was awesome.” I really wished I could have seen that. After we finish talking about the huge flame, I notice that my bike is leaking a massive amount of oil. As Craig and I are trying to figure out what happen, Billy, Terry and Mike cruise by. They stop and now we got everyone looking at my bleeding bike. Billy eventually figures out that I probably put too much oil in the engine. At the high rate of speed I was going, the oil did not have enough time to suck back into the engine from the piston chamber. The oil began shooting out into the air filter and when enough of it built up in the engine, it apparently ignited thus creating the firework show Craig was so impressed by.

            So we let the oil settle and we gingerly proceeded to Yuma. On the backside of the last mountain range before our destination, Interstate 8 was closed. We could see trucks and cars snaking up the hill for about four miles. So we got off our bikes and started a bullshit session right there in the middle of the interstate. After several minutes, the road opened back up and we were back on our bikes and heading toward the home stretch. They guys went straight to the fair grounds to get their hallowed spot under the trees. I on the other hand went straight to the Yuma Harley in order to fix my oil problem before I took the bike on the next leg of the trip to San Diego.

            An hour and a half and about $100 later, I was back with the fellows at the campground. As is typical, the drinking started early. I had some of Mike’s famous “Apple Pie Moonshine.” Very Delicious. I then lit a cigar and set off to find my friends at the “Y-Knots” campground. There I hooked up with Big Carlos, Lori, Linda, Scotty, Vicki, and Fa-King Lenny. Carlos had again found another bottle of his favorite “green label” Jack Daniels. So we passed that bottle around. I also brought a bottle of “Fire Ball” cinnamon whiskey and a flask of Mike’s Apple Pie. Good times were had by all and it sure was good to see everyone again. It’s unfortunate that I run across most of these people only at this event once a year.

            The next day was filled with more cigars and booze. Later in the evening, Whiskey Bill and the Boys plugged in their equipment and began their concert. They got a pretty good turn out and we met some brand new fellow riders. The next day, I got up early and drove by the fair grounds to say good bye to everyone. Apparently, I did not get up early enough as all my buddies were gone. So I turned the bike around and headed towards my next destination, beautiful San Diego, California. From here on out, it would be a solo ride.

            As I headed southeasterly, I began to miss my friends. As I mentioned, I see only some of these guys once a year and that goes by just too quick for me to get my fill of them. In anticipation of hitting the coast, I put my “Pirate Playlist” on my I-pod and my mood changed for the better. Something about Adam Ant’s ‘Hoist up the Jolly Roger” allows the adventuresome spirit to build up until it pushed away your blues. That said, it was easy cruising from there. After the mountains crested, I began to notice the smell of wet soil, buganvillas and gardenias. Eventually that was replaced with the smell of sea air. I followed Interstate 8 until it played out into Mission Bay. From there my hotel, The Dana, was right around the corner. I took a short drive around just to get my bearings and within a few yards, I ran into Phil’s Barbeque.

            I had heard Phil’s had the best “Que” in town so of course I pulled in. They had just opened about a half hour earlier and the line was out the door. I got in line and it move quickly. I ordered the beef ribs and onion rings. Both were probably the best I have ever had. For sure the beef ribs were the best ever. I filled up and then headed to The Dana on the Bay to check in. The Dana is gorgeous. It sits right on Mission Bay and is surrounded by parks, boardwalks and boats. I donned my swim trunks and took a dip in “The Tiki Pool.” The choices were “The Bay Pool” overlooking the docks or the tiki. Since I have a tiki tattoo, I figured the latter was the place for me to be. Once in the water, I was joined by a mallard duck that had flown in from out of town too. After the pool I took a long nap, then had dinner in the resort. It was an excellent filet mignon covered in butter. Butter is one of those things that makes everything taste better. After a few cocktails, I called it an early night.

The next morning as I was a waiting for Phil’s to open for the day, I got a call from my friend Dr. Joe Rosenthal. He was flown in that morning from Tucson with his aunt from Germany. She had wanted to see Sea World and The Dana was around the corner. So as luck would have it, we were in San Diego at the same hotel, on the same weekend. After lunch, the three of us hopped the bus to Old Town San Diego. We did the tourist thing for a few hours and then it was time for a beer. One beer turned into ten drinks, a long night of drinking and a really bad buzz when I woke up the next morning. My plans to ride the cycle into Mexico and have lunch in Ensenada were scraped when I stumbled walking to the bathroom the next morning. So I hunkered back into bed and continued to sleep until the dizziness went away. I meet Joe and his aunt for dinner back in Old Town. They told me about their day spent at the zoo. I was glad I slept through that all day marching fest. That night Joe and I found a bar with a beautiful bartender. We drank at The Coaster Bar until everyone left. I nursed beers all night as I was still recovering. We eventually closed the place down and a little before 2:00 a.m. we found a cab to drive us back to the hotel. That night I said goodbye to Joe. Next morning more solo riding off to the Laughlin River Run.

The morning started off cold, wet and windy. While crossing a bridge, the wind was so bad, it blew my sunglasses right off my head and into the bay. I started toward Nevada trying to avoid the mountain pass on Interstate 8 since the map showed its elevation at over 4,100 feet. So I took a back road that I assumed had less elevation since its elevation was not mentioned on the map. Before I reached the first town, there was snow lingering on the ground. I just assumed that it was left over from the winter season. I walked into the café in Alpine and noticed everyone crowed around the television. Turns out they were watching themselves on the news show. Seems the San Diego news crew was down in Alpine that morning interview the café patrons about the first snow fall of the season. “Great” I thought to myself. I had packed for a desert ride and now I’m facing snow.

After breakfast, I had to backtrack since the road I was on was closed up ahead unless you had snow tires or chains. My bike had neither. As I continued, all that kept running through my head was “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward,  . . . ‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’” And that is how the morning went. It was a gradual push forward until the next small village, then the next.  I had no idea how long it would last or how far till I was out of the mountains. So I felt I had little choice but to press on. Just outside of Julian, CA, it began to hail so hard that whenever I stuck my head up from behind my windshield, it felt like I was being shot in the face with several BB guns.

Soon the road was white and covered in a thick layer of ice, snow and hail. I couldn’t tap my rear brake or down shift without my bike fishtailing So, I was literally sliding down the mountain in first gear. There was one car behind me that, even though I was only going about 10-15 M.P.H, wouldn’t come close to me. I knew that they could tell I was in deep trouble and about to go down any minute. I was shivering uncontrollably and in such an exaggerated manner that I looked like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. I don’t ever remember praying on the bike before but I couldn’t think of a better time to start. About five minutes after I asked God to get me out of this mess safely, I could see ahead lay blue skies and sunshine. It is really possible to actually see sunshine after being in dark clouds and thick fog for so long. As soon as the roads began to dry, I cranked the throttle and took off for the valley and the desert that lay ahead. I had never been happier to get out of the forest and into the desert in my life. I rode like a bat out of hell as fast I could until a border patrol agent flashed me with his yellow caution lights and I took that as a sign to slow down.

From the snow covered mountains to the sand dunes of Glamis. It was like riding over an ocean of sand. I could definitely see how the movie writers would imagine large, man-eating sandworms swimming underneath you just below the surface, their mouths agape and about to swallow you whole. That was a neat trip. From there it was an uneventful ride into Laughlin, Nevada and the 28th annual Laughlin River Run. I arrived on the Arizona side of the Colorado River just at sunset. The casinos across the river were all lit up in a variety of colors and it painted a pretty cool postcard. I checked into my room and walked out into the parking lot for some beers, food and the live bands. The next few nights were the same thing. Left a day early and hit the London Bridge in Havasu City, Arizona. Then it was a quick jet home to a chilly reception from my old lady. Seems she did not forgive me for taking this trip during her birthday. Anyway we made up and the trip was worth the brief chill. 

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