Our monster limo awaits.
Before taking the trip I had thought about going through the desert in a four wheeler, actually seeing it from within. There were several options on Expedia, and off, but I chose the one that offered both four wheeling and shooting auto weapons. I had shot several automatic weapons while in the Army, including the German G3, the G1 machine gun, the Uzi, and of course the M16, and the M60 I carried most of the time. I also shot a submachine gun last year at the local range. But I wanted to try some more, for research, don’t you know. So I signed up for this trip. They called me the day before, while I was on the road the Sandy Valley out by Goodsprings, and we set up a meeting by the Camelot Hotel and Casino the next day.
The Arizona Desert.
Things started off badly from the start. I couldn’t find my credit card when I was in McDonald’s getting breakfast. Fortunately I found it at the Bonnie Springs Restaurant that night. Then I couldn’t find the meeting place. I was on the phone with the driver/guide for some time before they finally found me. Then it was off to their facility, which turned out to be in Arizona on the road to Kingman that I had wanted to travel the day before.
They had a small roadside attraction with advertising for their firing ranges. First thing we did was get onboard a huge monster truck that was like a limousine, driving over hills and into dips. After we were outfitted with helmets and gloves, then it was back on the van to ride out to area where we would be riding the four wheelers. Now, I had ridden exactly this kind of four wheeler before, when I worked for Tallahassee Nurseries when I was an undergrad at FSU. We would fly on those things over the dirt road to the back of the nursery. I figured this would be the same. But I was much younger then, the rides were shorter, and the dirt road at the nursery was in much better shape.
I was well outfitted for my hell ride.
Let me point out first of all that this was my experience, that of an out of shape sixty-year-old. Everyone else was much younger, most in their early twenties, and they seemed to eat it up. They checked to see that we knew how to use the brakes, and then we were off on the hour long trek through the desert and mountains down to the Colorado River. They tried to keep the speed down to twenty, and it was still too much for me. The road was too rough, and I felt like I was going to be flung off of my cycle. I still had some misgivings from the time I was thrown off a motorcycle and broke a rib, and it was only going to get worse. But I stuck it out, my pride not letting me quit, until we got down to the river. I saw some beautiful rock formations on the way, but I couldn’t check them out because I was having to keep all of my attention on the road. We went through some narrows, a lot of curves, and then stopped. The good news was I could get off the cycle. The bad news was I had to ride the damned thing all the way back. I learned later on that I should have bought a trip on one of the enclosed four wheelers. Too late now.
There were some young kids from California who were total jerks. They were pulling rocks off of walls of sandstone, just ruining the natural splendor of the area. And one kept letting me catch up to him, then sped off and pushed up a cloud of dust into my face. Again, it was not a ride I enjoyed, but everyone else seemed to.
The payoff of the hour ride, the Colorado River.
We went back to their establishment to get our burger, what they advertised as the World’s Greatest. First, those of us shooting went out to the range. I had tried to get a P90, like the gun used in Stargate, but had been told they were having trouble getting ammunition for it. Instead I received a German submachine gun, I think a G5. First we started with a Glock 17, no big thrill since I own one. After that I fired the German Subgun. Then an AK47. I own one of those as well, but mine is only a semi, and this was the real thing. Last, for me, was a SAW, what they advertised as a belt fed machine gun. It actually is belt fed, but it can also be fed by a magazine, and that’s what I got, which was a little disappointing. It was fun, but not really worth what I paid.
Then it was back to the restaurant and the World’s Greatest Hamburger. Not even close. It wasn’t a bad burger, but Whataburger and Sonic at home had it beat, as did Goodsprings. After that it was back on the van and a trip to Hoover Dam. We didn’t actually go to the damn, but stopped at the walk way that led to the bridge over the Colorado. Still, I got some good footage riding in the front of the van. Would I do this trip again? No, not really. Seeing the territory was great, but the actual ride was a terror. I was back at Bonnie Springs that evening, recovered my credit card, and ate. It was my last night at the ranch. Tomorrow I was heading for Death Valley. I had been out there last time, but it had been true hell at 125 degrees. This would hopefully be much milder temperatures. I was really looking forward to it.