I am a firm believer that every human should have a Bucket List. You’ve seen the movie. It’s a list of things you want to do before you die. Some people have lists a mile long, while others have a handful of things they want to accomplish. My personal bucket list was only five things. It is so short because between 20 years in the Air Force, and another 5 years traveling the world with the State Department; I’ve done about everything I really want to do.
1. Attend the wedding when both of my sons get married.
2. Play in the World Series of Poker.
3. Hit a hole-in-one.
4. Sleep with Heather Locklear.
5. Ride a motorcycle to Las Vegas.
I say “before last week” because just a couple of days ago I was able to line one item out. I’m certain you will be as disappointed as I am that it wasn’t #4, but I am thinking that the only way I’ll ever complete that one is if I change it to “Call out Heather’s name one night”. I’m also pretty sure that this should be the last one on the last, since I am pretty sure it would be the last thing I ever did when my wife hears me.
No, last week JB (a friend of mine) and I hopped on our motorcycles and took off for a great ride and some Las Vegas poker action. I had talked about doing it for two years, but the timing was never right. Finally this summer, I was made up my mind that it was this year or it was coming off the list. So a few of us blocked off the last weekend of September on the calendar, and started making plans.
Plans…right. Nobody told the weather gods about our plans, I guess, because last week began one of the earliest snowfalls Colorado has seen in ages. By the time our projected departure date had arrived, it was freezing cold, and there was a blanket of snow on the ground. This would normally serve to change my mind, but not this time. I was determined to make the trip, and JB, having recently returned from a motorcycle to Alaska and back, simply laughed at any concerns I might have had.
Then another setback happened, with a third rider had to have surgery on his clutch hand. As much as he begged his doctor (and wife) to clear him to make the trip, the answer was a resounding no from all parties involved.
So on Thursday morning, JB and I layered ourselves in thermals, jeans, jackets and rain suits (yes, all 4 at one time), and took off towards New Mexico. The ride down was as comfortable as 20 degree blowing snow weather can be, and we soon found ourselves in Las Vegas…….New Mexico. Honestly, I was good with that much. I never said Nevada on my bucket list. But Jon kept insisting that there were still another 600 miles or so to the Vegas we were planning on. Oh well, I tried.
We spent Thursday night in one of the seediest motels I have ever slept in, and I’ve slept in shacks in New Delhi that would be turned down by some homeless people in this country. It was disgusting and old, but the bed was comfortable enough. After an entire day sitting on a motorcycle shivering, that was about the only thing I felt was important. The only real problem with the room was that we were disgusting and dirty from the road, but the shower was even more so than we were. So a quick decision was made to skip the shower, and let our true biker spirit (read: odor) shine through til Vegas.
Friday was a beautiful day of riding that eventually turned into a beautiful day riding through the desert in 110 degree heat. Needless to say, the cold weather gear got a little uncomfortable. By the time we hit Vegas, we were down to jeans and short sleeved shirts, and loving every minute of it. We checked into our hotel, and there and then I decided that there was only one thing to do after riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle to Las Vegas from Colorado. I then went to the ice machine, filled a small bag with ice, and placed it firmly on my groin for the next couple of hours.
Once that pain had subsided, and after a nice long rest, Jon and I hit Vegas for an evening of alcohol, naked women, and gambling. In that order. My buddy David had scored some tickets to the Sin City Bad Girls show, and we tried our best to keep up with him in the beer department. I don’t know how many beers are too many for me in one evening, but I am fairly confident that number is significantly less than I poured down my throat that night.
Once the party ended there, JB and I decided that poker would be the proper activity for two guys dead tired from the road and filled with alcohol. Having made that quality decision, we trekked over to the Venetian Poker Room, and stumbled to our seats to play some $1/$2 cash game Hold Em.
The next three hours are kind of a blur for me, but I am told there is a text message record of every hand I played on someone’s phone. I guess I was sending out an update after every hand to all of my friends back in Colorado who were trying to get some sleep. And let the record show that the final text I sent said clearly “I am up nearly $1000 and headed to bed”. I vaguely remember shoving all in with A-A, and getting called by K-K, to win over $400 on one hand; and I think at other times I flopped a flush, a straight, and quads on three other hands. If you are going to play drunk, those are pretty good and profitable flops to get.
Saturday morning brought a much needed trip to In-n-Out burger, which is where I figured out just how much money I had won the night before. I went to peel off a $20 bill to pay, and had to dig through a large stack of $100’s to get there. I’ll just say this: If you want to find something that surprises you, I highly recommend finding a wad of $100 bills in your pocket.
Saturday night I played the $160 tournament at Caesar’s Palace. A fun tournament, but it ended rather badly. I flopped trip 10’s on a 10-7-2 board, and shoved in after there was a bet and raise in front of me. I was truly surprised when both players called my all in. One turned over Q-8, and the other K-Q. Why they called me is beyond comprehension, but I can only surmise that they had an agreement with the dealer, as the turn was a 9…and the river was a Jack. Yep, both players hit a runner-runner straight to send me packing. You just can’t overcome players with that much talent and skill.
On Sunday morning, I woke to the realization that all the swelling and pain from the trip down was gone; and the realization that I was about to get back on the bike and ride home. I even considered packing ice packs in my saddle bags, but with 110 degrees bearing down on us, I quickly realized the error of my thought process. So we made the decision to ride home through Grand Junction, Colorado and complete the full 1800 mile circle.
We did make a really beautiful detour though the Zion National Park in Utah, and I highly recommend it to you if you’re ever out that way. The picture used for this story was taken there. It adds a couple of hours onto a trip, but those hours will be come of the most cherished in my memory.
Sunday night was spent in a much nicer hotel in Grand Junction. So nice in fact that I even took a shower, and used the water to brush my teeth. I know; my standards dropped significantly on this trip.
Monday morning brought a return of freezing temperatures, so we dug in the bags and pulled out all the clothing from day #1. Then we shivered through winding downhill interstate at 80 miles per hour. This is another thing I highly recommend you do on a motorcycle at least once in your life.
So the trip is over, my pockets are a little fuller, and I am able to reduce my bucket list down to four simple items. With one son getting married next year, I am fairly certain that I will soon eliminate another. The World Series of Poker will get lined out in the next two years, and the hole-in-one will just happen when it happens. This only leaves Heather Locklear, and if I win the World Series of Poker, maybe I’ll even get a shot at completing that little task too.
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