I was really into what I was doing. I was in a kind of fog of concentration, you might say, not really paying attention to what was going on around me, just what was right in front of my face. You know. You’ve been there.
So, I was caught totally unprepared when without warning, all hell broke loose! All of a sudden my world was filled with unfamiliar sounds and flashes of light. My head snapped up and I sensed rather than saw a menacing presence to my left, then another to my right. My heart raced! What was happening to me?
When I summoned enough courage to look, the ghostly figure to my left became a man. A large man. A large man in a suit. A large man in a black suit. And, what was that he was saying? “May I see your ID sir?”
It was a polite large man in a black suit. Later I was to learn that people who do this kind of work are actually known as “the suits.”
Okay, it was not all as mysterious as it sounds. We were in a casino and I had just hit a jackpot on one of the slots. The “suits” were there to give me some money. Not a whole lot of money, but still. This may not seem like a big deal to some but I was already approaching midlife at this time and this was my first jackpot.
What made it extra cool was that my wife was looking down from a balcony above when all this happened. Seeing me surrounded by big men in black suits, my wife’s reaction was, “Oh god! He’s being arrested! What’s he done now?”
In subsequent years, the place has become a favorite destination of ours, but this was 1990 and it was our first visit to Laughlin, Nev. Don Laughlin’s famous self-financed $3.5 million bridge across the Colorado had been completed a few years earlier.
The Colorado Belle had just opened for business; Harrah’s and the Hilton hadn’t even been thought of yet; across the river in Arizona, Bullhead City still had the feel of a small desert town; and our dog Ty could pee in the desert where the Ramada later stood.
Laughlin has become one of the top five destinations for American RV enthusiasts, so odds are pretty good you’ve been there. If so, you can relate to all this. If not, there are online sources galore to give you all the Laughlin history you can handle.
Don Laughlin’s success story is a fascinating tale of latter day entrepreneurial spirit. I promise, it will make you want to go there.
On our first few visits we dry camped in the hotel parking lots. We favored the Pioneer because it had a great coffee shop with a view of the river and we could do pork chops for breakfast. Besides it had the feel of one of those older Vegas type casinos and we liked that.
As time marched on, we opted more for the hook-ups and other amenities and settled on the Riverside RV Park, part of the Don Laughlin Riverside Hotel and Casino complex. The RV park has grown to more than 700 sites with all the bells and whistles and many of the sites have great views of the “strip,” the river and the mountain range beyond. Make your reservations early.
Lest you think we are in it just for the wagering, just 29 miles due south of Laughlin on the old Needles Highway is Needles, Calif. Named for nearby mountain peaks and sitting astride old Route 66, Needles sports a delightful 18-hole municipal golf course. We’ve made an annual ritual of playing there each New Years Day.
We were in Laughlin on New Years 2014 when, some say for the first time in recorded history, SNOW FELL in Laughlin! Snowflakes and New Year Eve fireworks! You gotta hand it to that Laughlin Chamber of Commerce . . . always coming up with something new!