- Views 1240
Do you ever get the urge to just get away?
And in the process wind up being blown away?
In other words,you ever head out for a little R&R and come back not only rested and relaxed but ready to rock?
A few weeks ago my wife Cathy and I spent the weekend at Fantasy Springs Hotel and Casino located in not-so-near-by Indio CA.
It’s a bit of a drive but one we gladly endure every so often for a couple of reasons:
1) Cathy likes to gamble.
And 2) Cathy likes to gamble.
The 100 plus mile jaunt on Interstate 10 generally kicks off right after work on Friday afternoon.
ETA? Approximately 7pm.
ATM? ASAP. Sharp!
After making quick work of check in and a bite to eat it’s a, “See ya hun have fun” dash down the main escalator past the revolving Wheel of Fortune in hopes of snagging lucky number 3-001, a generous but somewhat temperamental keno machine with whom Cathy’s had a love hate relationship for well over a decade.
My own approach to the evening on the other hand is considerably different.
It begins with a slow and meandering stroll, one that raises the inevitable question, “What the hell do I do now?”
That is of course unless the L.A. Kings are playing. In which case I’ve got a decision to make.
Do I shuffle upstairs and spend Friday night alone in a barren hotel room quietly watching the game?
Or, do I belly up to the bar, put in my request for one of the dozen or so flat screens to the bartender and if granted prepare to defend my affinity for hockey to a pack of diehard WWF fans who think Lord Stanley is an up and coming hip hop artist currently opening for Justin Bieber?
Not to worry, as it turns out the Kings are off tonight.
And it’s probably for the best, because today (like most days) I got up at 3am, and if all goes as planned it’s gonna be another early git up tomorrow as well.
It does (go as planned) and at 6am I’m easin down the road in my pickup with J.J. Cale on the airwaves and a topped off YZ450F in back.
As I make my way south on highway 86 first light begins to reveal itself through the low-lying fog that blankets the Salton Sea, a massive inland body of water that half a century ago was aptly coined the “French Riviera of California.”
Today, however, the abandoned remains of this former tourist hot spot are little more than an eerie reminder of a bygone era.
Coming into view just a few miles further south and to the west is the outlying landscape of Ocotillo Wells, a popular state vehicle recreation area that boasts over 40,000 acres of knobby-friendly terrain.
With a twist of the throttle I’m carving my way down a well defined single-track that takes me deep into the badlands.
Surrounded by an unending maze of washes and ridges I maintain a steady clip while getting a little more settled in the saddle.
Yet from the moment I open her up I know this ain’t gonna be just another “that was fun” sorta ride.
Bearing down on the foot pegs my 190lb frame feels especially light and agile and the blue bike is responding favorably to my every white-knuckled whim.
From the gnarliest up hills to the tightest and trickiest sand sections we confidently pick our lines and impressively find our groove.
From one end of this sublime dust bowl to the other man and machine become one.
And together we proceed to masterfully tear it up.
Returning northbound on 86 the postmeridian sun has transformed the fog-laden Salton Sea into a shimmering layer of glass that stretches peacefully across the Imperial Valley.
I give Cathy a courtesy call to assure her that all is well, I’m back in the pick up and all body parts (although a bit sore) are intact and fully functional.
Moderately relieved she shares with me the “really” good news: she’s on a roll, ‘ol number 3-001 is loosening up.
Elated, I pop in Metallica’s Black Album and polish off a sequence of textbook Lars Ulrich impersonations on the steering wheel before pulling into Del Taco for a couple of chicken softies.
Once back at the casino I instinctively find Cathy in the same spot as when I left earlier this morning.
Did I forget to mention that she is notorious for pulling all-nighters?
Did I mention that last night was no exception?
In any case I’m headed for the showers.
Clean and clothed I swing open the double doors and step out onto the balcony of our room to ponder my next move.
A full gainer off the top rail into the bow tie shaped pool four floors down is what initially comes to mind.
But I opt instead to settle into the overstuffed armchair in the far corner of the room where I begin transcribing a backlog of thoughts that I’ve been lugging around in my head since last Tuesday.
The next thing I know I’m waking up to Nancy friggin Grace on the TV.
Cathy’s across the room propped up on the bed meticulously counting her “blessings.”
And I’ve got less than 20 minutes to shake off any false notions that these aching bones of mine may not make it downstairs in time for our 6:30 dinner reservation.
“Good evening,” asserts the waitress, “can I start you off with something to drink or maybe an appetizer?”
Yea, how bout a shot of Sauza and a travel size bottle of Ibuprofen?
Just kidding, dinner was great, albeit short lived.
Because before you can say Tiramisu it’s a, “See ya hun have fun” dash down the escalator past the…well, you know the logistics.
But this time I too have a definite destination.
The Rock Yard is a small venue in Fantasy Springs’ outdoor courtyard, one that consistently attracts some of the finest cover bands you could ever hope to see and hear.
It can also be a welcomed departure from the deep-pocketed high jinks going on back inside.
As always I waste no time securing my spot along the table-lined walkway directly behind the stage.
Not only does this give me an up close and personal view of all things technical, it also allows me to pan out across the crowd, almost as if I were up there on stage myself.
What? This is “Fantasy” Springs remember?
On tap tonight is a tribute to San Francisco super group Journey.
The band kicks things off with a solid rendition of La Do Da, followed by a non-stop string of oldies circa 1977.
As expected the musicianship tonight is top notch.
The drummer, a tall lanky kid who resembles Steve Perry more than Ansley Dunbar or Steve Smith keeps perfect time every time.
His rolls and fills are flawless and tasteful.
He’s clearly done this a few bazillion times before.
As I periodically glance out into the crowd I can’t help but notice a guy who is unabashedly beating to his own drum.
Talk about two left feet, this dude’s got the meter and measure of a dash mounted bobble doll barreling down a pothole plagued Louisiana back road.
Sadly, as he makes his way to the edge of the stage I realize he has Down syndrome.
Along with an ear-to-ear grin that is every bit as infectious as the pulsating music beneath my feet.
I’m tellin ya this kid is havin a ball!
He’s even got a couple of hotties hangin on him, and whenever an unsolicited pair of gyrating hips are fired his way he giddily returns the favor.
The singer, clearly overcome with envy, leapfrogs off the stage and makes it a foursome.
At this point my usual laser-like fixation on the drummer starts to wain as I peer around the impeding floor toms desperately trying to get a better look at the antics up front.
And subsequently what do I see? A foot stomping celebration.
A rollicking and resounding echo of the uninhibited power of three simple cords and a bone crushing beat.
Hallelujah! I think to myself, long live Rock n Roll.
Driving home Sunday morning I quietly reflect on the past couple of days as Cathy “rests” her eyes.
Quite frankly with her energy level I’m surprised she gets any sleep at all, even after an all-nighter.
Nonetheless I’m super pumped she had a fun filled weekend and walked away with a few bucks in her pocket.
As for me I definitely feel as though I cashed in as well.
It’s beyond rare when things come together the way they did on yesterday’s ride, and when they do it’s truly an enriching experience.
Last night the Rock Yard rocked. The band kicked ass. Watching those masterful musicians do their thing was once again a shrewd reminder of what a few years of unwavering dedication to your craft can do.
As for our dear friend in the front row, I can only say that it was an absolute joy to have been in your company.
You are in every sense of the word, a true winner.
Not only did I thoroughly enjoy watching you unwittingly steal the show, but your unbridled zest for life reminded me that even after a couple of standout days such as these, ultimately it’s about much more than gettin in a groove or on a roll every now and again.
In the end, it’s about finding your own unique and personal rhythm.
Even if it is a little…offbeat.
See ya on July 1st, till then, keeep it up.