Day 17 - Thursday 8th March 2018
The Day Started with a Bang - A Big Bang!
The day started with what had become a ritual, (can you have a ritual after only two days?) a wander down to the Lord of Sandwich for a Tuna Melt, Coleslaw and yoghurt for brekkie. What a great way to feed the furnace and set up the day.
A quick Uber downtown to the local gun shop The Machine Gun Experience set us up for some fun on the range.
Being past members of the Victorian Gun Range in MLB and so close to being licensed, unfortunately this journey was put to a rapid halt following a huge fire at Lombards the Paper People warehouse, saw not only Claude's business go up in smoke but the Gun Club totally destroyed as well.
Target shooting is something that appeals as it is a test of ones steady hand, breathing control, a keen eye and then the squeeze of the trigger. To land a round within the target zone is most gratifying.
So back to the The Machine Gun Experience a huge and typical US gun shop catering more for the locals than us tourists. Weapons ranging in caliber for .22 caliber all the way up to a massive .75 caliber sniper rifle.
The gun display was extensive and we debated which to select for our time in the controlled space of the range to shoot at the target. Decisions, decisions which to select...
We chose two small caliber side arms and then upped the ante in selecting the Desert Eagle a .45 caliber weapon developed for the Gulf War and a .50 caliber Magnum Smith & Wesson Revolver. This is a brute of a weapon and known to have broken wrists from the sheer force of its recoil. It kicks harder than a mule!
Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry fans will be familiar with his .357 Magnum being "the most powerful hand-gun known to man" - well trust me it's a "toy" when compared with the .50 caliber Magnum Smith & Wesson Revolver. This revolver is almost twice the size of Dirty Harry's.
Well I had not been on a range for a number of years but very pleased to land 16 of 20 in the target area and with a very tight grouping.
Up to the next caliber weapon yielding a similar result. And then with great anticipation the Desert Eagle was loaded and ready to go. It's a heavy weapon but with a hair trigger and so easy to fire. But before doing so, it's arms fully extended, elbows locked, feet offset with the dominant right leg approximately 20cm behind the left leg. Several deep breaths, a pause in breathing, weapon sighted and then gently squeeze that hair trigger resulted in a yell of "holy shite" and a resultant grin from ear to ear. This was more than a mule's kick, not that I've had the displeasure of being kicked by a mule. The first shot was a tad low and it turns out I was anticipating the kickback and pushing down at the instant of firing. Once this was corrected I place the balance of the shots in the tight grouping once again. But wow, the size of the holes in the target sheet were most massive and impressive.
Now having experienced a .45 caliber, it was time to move up to the .50 caliber Magnum Smith & Wesson Revolver. It's weight is significant and the extended length of its barrel seems to accentuate the weight when holding it in the shooting position.
There are two methods of shooting a revolver; double action trigger where the cocking and release is all done with the pull of the trigger. The other method is to cock the weapon and then using the hair trigger to release the hammer. The second method is smoother and far more accurate.
This is a super serious weapon and one that is treated with the greatest respect. Again arms extended, elbows locked, target acquired deep breath, weapon cocked and the gentle squeeze and BANG!!! the kick was extraordinary as was the percussion of the rapidly expanding gasses from the end of the barrel. This did not kick like a mule but more like a thoroubred stallion on steroids and all I recall is yelling out "holy F... (front door). The revolver chambers were emptied and I could have gone again and again but at $? a pop, sorry make that a bang, a Big Bang. I decided enough fun was had and could not be beat. What a memorable experience!!!!
The range's driver saved us the Uber fare and provided transport back to the main Vegas strip and fittingly the rego number on the vehicle was oh, so American - "GUN SHOP".
Time to have a drink and listen to some music, so down to Carnival Court. A venue with a huge circular bar under what looks like a carnival tent. A stage completes this unique venue.
"Flippy" and his bar crew were most entertaining with many games of cocktail mixing, shaking, drinking, pouring whistle blowing and in general terms making a huge amount of noise and creating a terrific atmosphere.
A small and enthusiastic group of 8 or ten grabbed the seats at the bar adjacent to us. It was obvious that they were celebrating something, as it turns out they were but commiserating their basketball loss.
Curious as to who, what, when etc I started chatting to Doug to determine the lay of the land. Doug was a most affable individual from Wyoming and the others in his group included Rissa his wife and Fallon his daughter. This family was heavily involved in women's college basketball. Now that Fallon, a six-footer, had graduated from college she was promoted to Assistant Coach of the Wyoming Women's Basketball Team.
Doug was so proud of his daughter's achievements and also of his lifestyle in Wyoming. Living on a huge ranch, with its own Tee-Pee, a Harley and a lifestyle of hunting elk, to eat and not as a sport. He showed me countless images on his phone. We hit it off so well, laughs and a great time, we were invited to the Wyoming Men's Basket Ball game at the Vegas Stadium later in the evening.
An Uber limo took 8 of us to the stadium. But because of a necessary detour, Leon and several others in the group were left behind waiting at the Hard Rock Hotel where the team was staying, while we did a quick detour.
Ten minutes later I receive an SMS from a "Jessie" - there was much speculation as to who Jessie was; male or female, blonde, brunette or redhead? But I did not explore these possibilities by ringing Jessies number. Instead, the message was ignored but all was revealed upon return to pick up the group in the limo.
While waiting for us to return, Leon was standing outside of the Hard Rock when he recognised no other than Jessie Hughes a legend of famous Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal. Leon asked for proof that it was in fact Jessie who subsequently pulled out his passport as proof. They started to chat and the end result was that Jessie invited Leon and myself to a "secret gig", hence the SMS from Jessie to let me know.
So onward to the stadium for hot dogs and a college basketball game between Wyoming and New Mexico. It was a fun night resulting from a serendipitous meeting at a bar downtown. Doug was insistent that I visit his ranch in Wyoming and then join him for the very famous Sturgis Harley Rally. Both Doug and Fallon are Harley enthusiasts and riders. Neale and Viv Brumby of Heavy Duty magazine in Oz have been on to me for a number of years to join them at Sturgis for the huge HD rally which attracts upward of 100,000 people over 4 days. Who knows it may just happen!
So basketball game over and it was time to say goodbye to our new Wyoming friends and off to the The Bunkhouse.
The event Jessie invited us to was a secret gig to launch the 400km desert race on Saturday. Parts of the main Vegas road were closed to through traffic with many of the desert racers parked in the precinct. 200 other VIP guests were in attendance.
The Bunkhouse looked like your typical establishment seen in almost any movie with a bunch of Harleys parked out front, It looked like the type of place that attendees would be "packing heat". Not so, this was an orderly fun group of people.
Jesse and his band were due on at midnight and finally were on stage at 12:45 am. We had prime position in the front row standing hard up against the stage. The first bars of music was like being back at the gun range earlier in the day with an absolute assault on the senses. Loud, awesome hard core rock music. We lasted most of the set but by 0130 the body had hit the wall. The only downer was that I did not have the Nikon D800 with me but only the Canon G1X. The image results would have been far superior of course!
Back to the hotel and to bed. Laying there left me thinking how serendipitous a day, a week a life can be and how our day turned out. It started with a Bang, we met some super nice people from Wyoming, attended a basketball game, ate hot dogs and were invited to a legend's gig.
Talking to Jesse before his gig it was obvious through the significant work that he does in the domestic violence arena, that he is a generous individual. Jesse asked to stay in touch and had offered to help me in my quest as well.
What's a day!!!