Friday, March 6, 2015

Colorado River Trip - Part 2 - Yuma Arizona to Laughlin Nevada

In the previous blog I was leaving Yuma.  Well, I didn't get far when I saw an In-and-Out burger joint. I am trying to eat less meat and I have a problem with gluten, but I know that In-and-Out makes their own fries on the spot using only whole potatoes, salt, oil and without wheat coatings (like evil McDonald's does).  I stop and had two servings of fries!!!!  OH so good!

(There are links to places I camped at the end of the blog.)

The Naked Guy at Reader's Oasis Book Store in Quartzsite Arizona.
It was on to Quartzsite, Arizona which is famous for all the snowbirds that boondock out in the desert in the area.  There are designated long term boondocking areas where you can pay $180 for an entire six months near Quartzsite.  I saw a lot of large RVs just off the highway as I passed through the area.

That will be us someday, I thought to myself!

The Reader's Oasis Book Store is a must see stop in Quartzsite.  The naked guy was there doing his book organizing thing.  Boy is his skin leathery!  I even found a good sci-fi paperback to purchase as I roamed his stacks of books.

As I was leaving the bookstore, I spotted an RV place that had propane.  I wasn't sure how much propane was in my BBQ tank and I wanted to fill it up for the rest of the trip.  It ended up that my tank only needed about $3 worth of propane.  Luckily the guy filling it was a nice dude and didn't care how much propane my tank took.  (I've heard about propane guys who get pissed if your tank isn't close to empty when they fill it.)

The guy was excited describing how he loved to collect gems out in the desert.  I guess there are a lot of cool rocks in the areas around Quartzsite.  He hoped he could crack them open and find valuable gems in some of the rocks he found.  He described how he thought he could buy some of the rocks from local dealers and chisel out some of the gems and sell those for much more than the original purchase price.  He was very passionate about rocks and gems!

My fireworks viewing area on state trust land just adjacent to Lake Havasu City.

My site near Lake Havasu City.
Before the trip, I had scoped out a site that was very close to Lake Havasu City. It was described in my source as BLM land with free camping.  As I approached the site there was a sign that designated the land as Arizona State Trust Land and noted that you needed a permit to travel and camp on that land.  I didn't have a permit. (Later on the internet I found permits cost $20 for a year.)

I was surprised to see that there were hundreds of RVs on this trust land area.  I pulled off and stopped.  I asked some folks camping there about the trust permit, they said that there was a huge Lake Havasu fireworks show that weekend just across the street and they were all there to camp and enjoy the show.  They said no one there likely had a trust land permit.  I figured that no trust land cop would bother to check so many RV campers for permits.  I drove further into the area and found a nice spot in a gully that had been used before for vehicle camping.

I talked to a couple in a nearby VW bus camper who told me that Lake Havasu put on a huge fireworks display at the SARA park across the highway that weekend in order to fill hotel rooms.  (It was Valentines, Presidents Day and Mardi Gras weekend.) [Update: The fireworks show was put on as part of the Western Pyrotechnic Association convention held yearly at Lake Havasu.]

I was excited that I would get to enjoy fireworks that night from my campsite.

The VW couple had been to Faywood Springs years ago and were excited to learn that it was operating under new owners.  They made plans instantly to head back that way. They had helped do some work at the springs years ago in exchange for some camping and soaking.  They hoped to do that again.

That night I sat next to my great propane fire ring and enjoyed the best fireworks I have ever seen in person. It was a "New York 1976" level show.  I was told by the VW couple that the people firing off the fireworks were crazy and lit a lot of the fireworks by hand with torches.

I've helped setup firework shows in Los Alamos and there is no way I would light them by hand. It's usually done with electronic fusses and computers these days.  Plus, these were very large fireworks!

During the show I Google+ video chatted with Karen and showed her the fireworks show.  It was spectacular!  What an unexpected treat!  Thanks Lake Havasu City!!!!

A miniature lighthouse at Lake Havasu.

Below is a Google Photosphere.  Use your cursor to move around in this 360 degree view.

The next morning I was off again headed toward Laughlin, Nevada with a stop at the Avi Casino at the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation.

But before leaving Lake Havasu, I crossed the famous London Bridge and enjoyed the view of the lake from the Island.

Heading up the Colorado past Parker you see a LOT of nice looking RV parks right along the river. This must be explored further!

Buffet late lunch at the Avi Casino.

The pretty Avi Casino swimming lagoon on the Colorado River.

Enjoying the Avi Swiming pool and hot tub. Ahhhhhh!

Below is a Google Photosphere.  Use your cursor to move around in this 360 degree view.

It's not a long drive to the Avi Casino from Lake Havasu. The road is fun in that it undulates up and down across the desert washes like a kiddy-land roller coaster.  "Hands in the air, everybody!!!" Woooo.

Upon arrival, I parked in the dry parking lot of the Avi Casino.  I've stayed at the Avi many times before.  It is a great stop along highway 40 near Needles.  They have a large free (3 day max) dry parking dirt lot, a KOA RV pay resort with full-hookups, a golf course, a great buffet, a cool swimming beach lagoon, a boat ramp, a dock on the Colorado, a multi-screen movie theater, a nice hotel and a food court.

The pool area is pretty darn sweet.  There are usually a few kids running and splashing about, but that doesn't bother me.

During the summer, the pool area is available to the dry RVers for a $10 day use fee.  During the winter there is no one around to collect that fee.  You have to have a card key to get into the pool area, which I didn't have, so I stood around looking shifty next to the locked gate until a family came out and that was my que to stealthily sneak in past the family.  (I tried to pay at the casino rewards desk but nobody wanted to take my money.)

It was a nice afternoon of swimming, reading and soaking in the nice big bubbly Avi hot tub.  After a very refreshing swim / reading session, it was off to the Avi buffet.  I got there in the nick of time to pay the lower lunch rate.  They have a very nice buffet and I filled up on a lot of good food, sans the meat & wheat.

The Avi is a great stop.  I highly recommend it.  For a photo-sphere of the Avi Lagoon click HERE.

After my late lunch, I decided to head on up to Laughlin and spend the night there after a good long walk.  It was only about 15 more miles north.

Mardi gras music in Laughlin Nevada.

A mock riverboat casino in Laughlin, Nevada.

The Riverside Casino classic car museum is worth a visit.

RV parking area at the Riverside Casino in Laughlin, Nevada.

MONKEYS on the River Walk!!!!!!
Laughlin is on the Nevada side of the Colorado River, right across from Bullhead City, Arizona.  I've been to Laughlin many times.  It's known as the poor man's Las Vegas.  It's a pretty cool place. There are many casinos along the river.  I'm not a gambler, but I love to walk the river walk and people watch.

Laughlin's river walk is about a mile and a half long and passes a lot of casinos.  There are water taxi's that zip around the river taking people to different casinos and across the river to Bullhead City, Arizona.

It was Mardi Gras time and there was a celebration with food and music going on at the riverboat themed casino (Colorado Belle).  A New Orleans band was pretty good with a crowd really enjoying it.

Down towards the south end of the walk, I came upon a row of big monkey statues holding up light torches along a quiet stretch between two casinos.  The monkeys had seen better days, but they are still unique and interesting.

The Riverside Casino has recently started allowing RV's to dry overnight park in their main parking lot, even though they have a very popular RV park directly across the street.  I read that the casino had banned RVs from their lot a few years ago and RVers were up-in-arms about the ban and had raised a huge ruckus in many RV groups.  The Casino reversed course and has welcomed RVs back. There were at least 50 or so RVs in the lot. They were all packed into one area.  There was still plenty of room for other customers to park their cars in the lot.

I talked to one RVer who told me he had been parked there for four months, even though there was a limit of something like 7 days posted on a light pole.  No one from the casino had ever once bothered him to move.

The signs on the light poll were very contradictory.  One sign said overnight parking was not allowed by the city. One sign said the casino had a limit of so many days parking in the lot.  It appears the town of Laughlin has an ordinance against overnight parking in parking lots, but it appears not to be enforced unless a property owner calls the cops on an RVer.  The Riverside Casino is clearly not calling cops out on any RVers at this time.

I did see five cops surrounding a guy who looked somewhat wasted in the area of the RVs.  The guy was yelling out, "my dad's an f'in millionaire!"  Not sure what that was about, but it seemed a minor interruption to the general quiet peace in the RV area.

I suspect that at some point the casino will once again get pissed off at the RVers and ban them because of the people who abuse their length of stay.  I have to say that the RVs that were there were all pretty clean looking and didn't have all kinds of stuff strewn outside, like BBQs and chairs. Nothing was leaking on the ground that I could see.   It seemed that the RVers were respecting the property and not making it look junky.

After I walked the river walk and then toured the really cool classic car museum in the Riverside Casino, I returned to my van and had a good, quiet, restful night.

There are other casinos in Laughlin that have RV parking areas.  The rules are constantly changing so you might have to look around a bit.  The Gold Nugget and the River Palms both have an area and they are both on my Blogger Reviews Map.

In the morning, I programmed my GPS for Tecopa Hot Springs in the desert near Death Valley and headed out.

Next: Tecopa Hot Springs, Pahrump, Red Rocks, Las Vegas, Snowbird Mesa.


Lake Havasu City SARA Park - State Land Trust area MAP:°27'03.8"N+114°14'38.5"W

Avi Casino Dry Camping Lot MAP:°01'04.9"N+114°38'30.4"W

Riverside Casino designated RV parking area MAP:°09'56.2"N+114°34'21.9"W

Blogger Reviews MAP.

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