"WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS SUMMER?" The voice belonged to BOATING's original rambling man and Senior Editor David Seidman. From his tone, I knew he already had the answer: "How would you like to take a Toyota 22' Epic and a Tundra pickup from L.A. to New York? Find some funky spots along the way, do a lot of boating, and write about it?"
God, I love my job.
Some time later I walked into Toyota headquarters and picked up a small fortune in hardware. Accompanied by my wife, Kris, friends Gary and Selena Holmes, and enough water toys from industry leader O'Brien to while away the summer on the water, our two-car, one-trailer caravan set out in search of America. Not the chichi destinations in glamour-puss travel brochures, but the places you can only discover by getting in your car and hitting the open road. What we gleefully found is something we're calling BOATING's America - wacky and wonderful sites best experienced with a boat in tow. From a fish worth a million dollars to a battleship with a bow full of grass, we show you where and how to escape the confines of your local watering hole. So take a cue from our travel journal and get lost with us as we go coast to coast-BOATING-style.
A Sky Ski, a London Landmark, and Gambling by Water
Ah, California...the possibilities seem endless. Head north from Los Angeles to Pismo Beach and discover the world's largest clam; south to Venice and find the world's largest pair of binoculars. The reality, however, is that opportunities for getting out on the water in a 22' boat are pretty slim. So what do we do? Like many Left Coast natives, we bolt for the smooth water of the Colorado River.
Our destination? Parker, Arizona, home of legendary ski bums Mike Murphy and Mike Mack. Sporting his trademark ponytail, the 50-something Murphy is best known for inventing the Sky Ski, a waterski-like contraption that rides above the water's surface on a hydrofoil. Mack, meanwhile, operates a ski school and pro shop on the docks of his Arizona Shores Motel. Which is where we find both of them on an early Sunday morning. Only a minor amount of arm twisting is necessary to get them both out on the water. Mack handles the expert driving duties in Parker's narrow stretch of river, while Murphy leaves us in awe with his bag of tricks. By the time we leave, our crew is equally divided - some want Sky Skis, others want to take over Murphy's and Mack's lives.
Our next stop is Lake Havasu City, Arizona, home to the London Bridge. Purchased in 1971 by chainsaw magnate Robert McCulloch and transplanted to the desert southwest, the bridge is now a mecca for partying on weekends. We join the party for the afternoon, but spend the evening gambling in Laughlin, Nevada. An oasis in the desert, Laughlin replaces the asphalt strips of Vegas with the cool Colorado. We check in riverside at Harrah's Casino, play in the river by day, and gamble away our food expense allowance by night. The best part? Instead of grabbing a taxi to take you to the next casino in town, you can walk to the dock. There you'll find a fleet of water taxis waiting to whisk you to the next hotel.
Hey, if you're gonna lose, you might as well enjoy the ride.