Getting Screwed in Las Vegas (NOT like that, tho…)

We left Windy’s and headed to Las Vegas. I had made an appointment with a highly recommended Diesel shop there, the purpose being to have the Bus Lubed, and under that pretense have someone knowledgeable look at the greasy side to make sure everything that should be connected, was. We needed to be there at 7AM, but arrived early enough that the shop squeezed us in the day before.

When the bus was “finished, ” They said “it all looks good under there, EXCEPT…” Liz’s smile changed abruptly!!!! They showed me one of the front shock absorber mounts that was completely sheared off. It needed to be welded, and this shop could not (would not) do that. And could make no referrals.

AAACCCKKK. We were not exactly “stuck” as we could drive, but I did not think we should drive far until fixed.

Now, it was late in the day and we needed to find a place to get the bus repaired…So I called the RV Park we had intended to park at a couple weeks hence (for the BBall Tournament), thinking we could spend the next day calling around to find a welding resource. This is where we got SCREWED, and not in the way one normally thinks about in the context of Las Vegas. Here is what happened, and of course, the required back story.


TOO OLD. (Not us. The bus!!!)


Back in August we were contemplating where to stay in Vegas in order to catch Chet’s basketball games. We had stayed in Vegas before, and called the same place. They would no longer even consider having us – TOO OLD. (Not us. The bus!!!) Even though we had stayed there before! Let me just say this is not unheard of in our travels – MANY resorts have age-restrictions in order to prevent Cousin Eddie from checking in and then abandoning an old junker. USUALLY we send pictures of RV WHERE YET, and the restriction is waived. If they still don’t want us, we just call somewhere else – no problem and no offense taken!!

Well, I called around back in August and eventually found another Park (many in Vegas would not even consider us – weird for a place that welcomes all sorts of tourists to do all sorts of things) that at least asked us if we would provide pics of all 4 sides of the bus. I sent them, and within an hour had a written approval and within 2 hours a phone call to take a deposit for the reservation. I assumed in August we’d be all set in November.

Since we now needed a spot for just a night or 2, I figured why not try this park, where we had already been approved? Called, they had a spot and when we arrived late the park had put paperwork on the door of the office for us. As we proceeded to our spot, I kind of suspected we MIGHT have an issue when a woman across from the office challenged me (gave me the stink-eye, more like it) as I walked back from the office with the envelope.

“DO you have a reservation?” she said. “Yep,” I said, waving the envelope.

We had no sooner arrived at our spot (I had not even hooked up electric) when that same woman came barreling down the road in her golf cart…

“YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAVE! We don’t accept such old vehicles, and in any case, NO CONVERTED SCHOOL BUSES,” she said!

I said, “But We have your approval…” I Showed her and then Forwarded her the email SHE WROTE in August. “And we are not a ‘Schoolie’ – would you like to see the RVIA Certification plaque (given to factory-produced RVs).”

She said, “Well, I would NOT have approved this bus” (she did) and, when presented with HER EMAILED APPROVAL , she then said “ it looks MUCH worse than the pics you sent.” (It looks EXACTLY like the pics I sent).”

So, she was basically lying. And hoping we would just leave.

It was late, and we had nowhere to go, so in a last-ditch gasp of rudimentary humanity she finally said she would let us stay ONE NIGHT (as a favor, in her mind), but we were DEFINITELY NOT WELCOME. And we knew (because she made it clear we would STILL not be welcome) we needed to find another spot for the Basketball tournament, and where we could leave the bus while we travel back to Chicago to see the dentist and Docs in early December.

Not easy to find 3 consecutive weeks AT THE LAST MINUTE – I had tried to avoid this by booking in AUGUST!

All of this due to the dishonest and unethical behavior of this park. I tried to report this, but could not identify a single customer service contact. So, In case anyone reading this, like me, wants to avoid rewarding such behavior, here is the park (and group of parks) to avoid:

Riviera RV Resort (Las Vegas), which is Affiliated with McGavin RV Parks. Other McGavin affiliates include: Sundance 1 (Casa Grande) in Casa Grande, Az., McGavin Ranch in Casa Grande, Az.; McGavins in Queen Valley, Az.; Desert Vista in Mesa, Az.; Los Colinas RV Resort in Eloy, Az.

Ironically, while the lady was berating us and insisting she had never written the approval she so clearly HAD written, we met the fellas in the next spot. Their RV was 20+ years old (also exceeding the age limit) and they were there to attend the SEMA show, being collectors and restorers of OLD CLASSIC CARS. They LOVED our bus!!

Before checking out (being run out), I called a bunch of places that Dr. Google surfaced as able to make welding repairs. None SAVE ONE called me back, even. That one was located in nearby Boulder City, and could definitely squeeze us in, they said. They wanted pictures so they could estimate – I said I would do one better – we’d be there in an hour!!! We drove down there to show them the problem, just to be sure they COULD (they assured me that YES they could, but not ‘til the day after next). There was an RV Park directly across the street with vacancy (and no concern about the age of our coach).

Sparc Engineered Repairs

When we showed up for our appointment, a gentlemen (I think his name was Damien) crawled under and spent some time muttering and observing. I started to get worried.

When he got out, I showed him some pics from the Bluebird Forum – apparently this is a problem that has been seen before and there were examples of how to weld on a reinforcing plate to fix that mount. The fella looked at the pic and said “I can do that, but that doesn’t directly address the problem!”

He then diagrammed for me his analysis of the forces involved in the suspension, why the part sheared off, and how HE would propose to fix it. Not necessarily more difficult or expensive than the BlueBirdBrain Recommended fix, but he basically performed a full engineering failure analysis and proposed a suitable solution. Sounded GREAT to me – but I asked him to ALSO weld on the plate recommended by the Bluebird Brain trust (belt and suspenders, I figured).

And, to do it all on the other side too, which had not (yet) broken.

He said “NO PROBLEM” and was finished by the end of the day!!!

SO, in case anyone needs welding in the Las Vegas Area, please call SPARC WELDING in Boulder City! They were as honorable and terrific as McGavin’s Riviera Rv Resort was dishonest and unethical.

Fremont Street Entrance

After Boulder City we spent a couple days staying in Downtown Las Vegas at the Main Street Casino. They have an “RV Park” which is a walled-in parking lot with hookups. It also happens to be adjacent to the “Fremont Street Experience” in all its sordid glory. FSE is a three-block long, covered-in-an-extravagant-light-show pedestrian arcade.

Fremont Street

More than that, I think FSE is a “down-on-its-luck” version of the Las Vegas Strip. Which just means the crazy characters and bars and casinos seem a little more “edgy” than I remembered from our last visit to the strip. THAT was several years and an economic downturn and a pandemic ago,  which may have a large part to do with that feel, and may have had a similar impact on the strip. We’ll see, as we will be on the strip when Chet’s basketball tournament commences in a couple weeks.

FSE -George Thorogood

In any case, we wandered the FSE a bit, the mood being set right at the arcade entrance by a 60-sumthin virtually naked woman in a wheelchair with a big sign saying, “Broke-Ass Stripper;” Something I can now not un-see. AT the other end of the spectrum was a free concert by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, which was actually quite fun since we could hang back, out of the unmasked crowds.

We also had some FINE meals at off-strip restaurants referred to us by College buddy Dick.

Awesome Sushi

Sushi at Sen of Japan — best ever? Maybe or maybe it only seemed that way because we haven’t had Sushi for awhile.

Lotus of Siam

Also Northern Thai food at Lotus of Siam. Could not get reservation at either – and at Lotus we were recommended to arrive before opening and get in line. We did, were seated quickly and had a fabulous meal there, too!

While at Main Street, we spent some time trying to replace our 3-week reservation previously booked at the Unethical Riviera RV Park. A LOT of places had no availability, a few had availability but an inflexible 10-year policy…ONE seemed like it might work: The Clark County Shooting Complex! This is, as you can tell from the name, a County Facility and it has a RV spots.

It’s a little out of town – somewhat isolated, so I asked the Bluebird Community if anyone had stayed there, and if so how would they feel about leaving their bus unattended for 10 days (there is NO WAY we would have done so at Main Street, for example). One BlueBirdBrain said, “Well, it has a locked gate, 24 hour security and A LOT OF PEOPLE – many in Law Enforcement — WITH GUNS … so we’d feel safer than most places parking there!”

It didn’t hurt that it was half the price of places that were rejecting us, and its ONLY requirement was that we be self-contained, water, toilet and shower-wise. We booked there even before we learned what a GREAT view it has of Las Vegas Lights from the hills north of town!

We left Vegas Downtown to spend another week or so before Chet’s Basketball tournament commences Thanksgiving week. We had only one “set” booking during this time – Death Valley National Park where we had a camping spot reserved for 3 nights. We found a few other things to do:


We visited Rachel, Nevada – the name of which has more letters than the town has people.


For the Moment…

There IS a place called the “Ale-Inn,” which is a small restaurant with a couple trailers and a couple more RV hookups.

Area 51 (ChachKi Shop)


All of this hard up against the boundary of AREA 51!!!

If Liz had a Child at this school, would she be a Mother Mucker?

We visited the town of Tonopah, which I am pretty sure was NOT the Tonopah that Linda Ronstadt sang about (there is another in Arizona). This one had worked-out Silver Mines and an EXCELLENT little brewery, though.

And, we visited the town of Beatty, self proclaimed gateway to Death Valley.

Beatty Burros

There we finally saw actual WILD Burros wandering the streets of the town. Well, not THAT wild, since the residents put out food and water to draw them, and therefore tourists into town!

Also in Beatty, we decided to do an off-road Jeep-trail rated as “Easy” by the Interwebs. This was a 26-mile, ostensibly 1-way gravel (mostly) and Rocky/rutty route up, down and through the hills around DV…ending inside the park. We started down this road, and soon we got a Transmission Temp. Warning light on a particularly scrabbly downhill set of switchbacks. YIKES!!!

View while Transmission Cooled

No internet service to allow me to look it up. We had to choose going back (wrong way) 10 miles or going forward INTO DEATH VALLEY another 16 miles. Somehow the latter seemed less prudent, even though we had to ‘splain to two Jeep caravans we met on the way back just why we were swimming upstream.

Remember, we just had this transmission rebuilt, so I was thinking “How to we get back to Des Moines to get it fixed under warranty” vs. getting stuck and feeding the vultures in Death Valley.

Once we DID get back (no more temp warnings), I read up in the error. It seems it mostly occurs in 4WD under stress., which it was!! Liz and I have now decided we are staying ON ROAD forever-more, hoping to get at least a couple more years out of the Jeep.

We spent a couple days in Pahrump, where Liz connected with a High-school friend Deb Rsonka, whom she had not seen basically since then.

Deb and Liz

Her husband Don and I carried on a variety of unrelated-to-high-school conversations while Liz and Deb gossiped and giggled about people from back then.

So, you are now all caught up on our wanderings. After Pahrump we were scheduled to go into Death Valley, and then to Vegas for the Basketball Tournament. \

I’ll leave you to read about those in future posts.

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