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Avi Resort and Casino’s 2012 Thunder on the River

By Felicia Morgan

LAUGHLIN, NEV., APRIL 26-29—If out-of-the-way places, scenic desert rides and your own little piece of heaven is what you crave while the entire world—the motorcycle world, that is—rages on down the river, then the Avi is just the pace for you during Laughlin’s River Run. Located less than 20 miles from the run’s pounding heart down on Casino Drive, the Avi Resort and Casino is owned by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and is nestled between Laughlin and Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. This lush oasis resort is the only Indian casino in Nevada and truly is a vacation all its own. Once riders drop a kickstand near the tall palms that line the parking lot, they never want to leave.

The hotel offers 452 rooms, as well as a 260-space KOA RV park, restaurants and bars, with all the conveniences of home. Since the Avi is not considered part of the official River Run, they plan out their own version of a biker hoedown and call it the Thunder on the River Run, away from the traffic of Laughlin proper. Rolling into the party, we found little reason to participate in other activities beyond the front gates.

Racers battled it out for the king of the strip during the Race Your Ride competitions Saturday afternoon

Racers battled it out for the king of the strip during the Race Your Ride competitions Saturday afternoon

Friday kicked off with a poker run, followed by an evening bout of beer pong. Now seriously, folks; who can pass up the highly competitive game of pong? Especially when coupled with beer? Top that off with a $1,000 purse and you can imagine the excitement. Arranged in teams, the competitors took their challenge seriously and the entire place smelled like hot hops and barley after only a couple of rounds. The games turned out to be so much fun that management has plans to expand the matches next year.

The Avi’s canopy village was sprawled across the parking lot with retailers of every stripe enjoying the vibe, as the toe-tapping tunes of the Texas troubadours, Robbie White and the Tejas Gringos, wafted out across the dunes. Babes were bathing on the white sands of the beach and Jet Ski jockeys were tearing up the jetty, as golfers were ricocheting balls off the rocks. (Cue the screeching sound of brakes here.) Yes, you read that right—golfers.

Bikers-turned-golfers were whacking the crap out of Wilsons, attempting to make a hole-in-one in order to win a brand-new Harley. Problem was, the target cup was located some 150 yards away, across a channel on an island. And there was a hefty breeze. Needless to say, no one won the bike. Two guys did mange to at least hit the island. At $5 a whack, a whopping $900 was raised for local children’s charities, so the aggravation of missed shots was lessened somewhat by knowing it was all for a good cause. The raffle swag went quickly, as folks lounged on the lawn and shared some giggles. Laid back and casual, everyone seemed to know each other, or at least was willing to meet a new friend.

Now if all this sounds too sedate, the go-fast crowd had their own adrenalin rush opportunities onsite as well. On Saturday afternoon riders were

Bikers turned into golfers in hopes of winning a new Harley-Davidson

Bikers turned into golfers in hopes of winning a new Harley-Davidson

invited to the Race Your Ride track on the outskirts of the resort. A zippy, 1/8-mile section of tarmac was closed off and riders plopped down a mere $5 for entry. Racers eyed the competition, warmed up their rubber and readied their machines at the glowing Christmas tree before flying down the straw bale-lined track as visions of breaking the sound barrier danced in their heads. The gathered crowds cheered riders on, secretly wishing they had the guts to push their own bikes into the triple digits—or maybe that was just me. With a new engine still in the break-in phase, I thought it better to be a grown-up than risk hurting my new baby and didn’t hang around too long, lest the adolescent in me were to take over.

“We were completely sold out this year; no rooms left at all,” Maria Richardson, director of marketing and sales for the Avi, shared. “We just have our own good time out here, and there were over 3,000 motorcycles. The poker run was a lot of fun and the slot tournament was popular, too. It was free to enter that. Did you get to see the beer pong? Everyone had a great time with that, so we decided we’re going to have tournaments on both Friday and Saturday next year. We already bought more tables. As for the Harley giveaway, well, it was tough. Everyone tried really hard and most guys tried more than once. As we could tell by the amount raised for charity, most tried it several times but since the bike wasn’t given away we’ll just continue to hold these tournaments. We’ll do it all again next year and see if anyone gets it then.” Personally, I suggest they trade the golf clubs for a baseball bat. Betcha they have a better chance of getting the balls on the island.


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