Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn


The Knife & Fork



Breakfast Club Returns to Parker/Blue Water Resort & Casino

by Warren McIlvoy
15 Jan 2005

The January Breakfast Club event to Parker marked the beginning of our 12th year of monthly fly-in events. And what better place to celebrate this landmark occasion than to make an encore visit to Parker and the Blue Water Resort and Casino.  In January of 2004, we had our largest attendance of any Breakfast Club event with more than 50 people choosing to participate in that memorable outing.

And to make the day even more rewarding, the weather gods smiled upon us with flying conditions being all you could ask for; clear skies, no wind to speak of, and air that was as smooth as silk. After passing through the Luke Alert Area, I dialed-in our "group flight following" frequency to report in. A few of the early birds were ahead of me and surly would arrive before I would land. After crossing over the Buckskin Mountains that are about 18-20 miles east of Parker, I started a slow descent out of 6500' for the pattern altitude of 1300'. We were using left traffic for runway 19 and there was one other aircraft in the pattern ahead of me. After making my usual(?) greaser landing, I taxied to the ramp to join the early arrivals. Chuck & Irene Graves offered to be our shuttle drivers today as they had a van that they kept at the airport. Four trips had every body at the Blue Water for the buffet breakfast.

As you would expect for a "resort/casino, once you get past the check-in desk, the main part of the floor is dominated by the ever popular slot machines. The more daring ways to separate you from you money, are accommodated in side rooms to the right of the slots. The buffet dinning room is to our left and further back in the room. The Feast, as the buffet is called, is moderately large and could easily accommodate several hundred people at any given time. The largest table set-up would only handle about 8 people so our group was pretty well scattered throughout the area. There were two serving lines, one for the traditional morning entrees and another for fresh fruits and pastries. The food was fairly good and the price was casino sized (two very important factors for hungry aviators). The spectacular, indoor pool occupies the entire west side of the main floor. The pool is actually a two story affair that begins just below the main floor with a winding pool that ends-up at a water slide. The water slide twists and turns until it dumps you off in the main pool at the lower level.

There is obviously more to Parker than the
Blue Water Resort and Casino so I would like to insert some information about the history and geography of this Colorado River town.

The Town of Parker is located within the northern corner of the Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation on a mesa overlooking the Colorado River at an elevation of approximately 450 feet above sea level. The Town of Parker is within the Sonora Desert located near river bottomland and rugged low desert mountains. The Gibraltar Mountains lie east of the community while the Whipple and Riverside Mountains lie to the north and southwest respectively.

The Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation straddles the Colorado River from a point five miles north of Parker to a point 50 miles south and contains over 264,000 acres. The reservation was established for all Native Americans living along the river by act of Congress, approved by the President on March 3, 1865. The Tribes represented on the Reservation are the Mohave, Chemehuevis, Navajos, and Hopi.

The original town site of Parker was surveyed and laid out in 1909 by a railroad location engineer by the name of Earl. H. Parker. However, the Town's name and origin began when a post office was established January 6, 1871, on the Colorado River Indian reservation to serve the Indian agency. The post office was named Parker in honor of General Eli Parker who was Commissioner of Indian Affairs when the Colorado River Indian reservation was established by Congress in 1865.

A railroad was laid in its present location in 1905, and Parker post office was moved upstream four miles to the railroad. Since the town site of Parker was laid out for the purpose of providing a railroad stopover, watering and shipping station, it was only logical that the railroad would run through the center of the Town. The Town was laid out on a grid of 100 -foot streets forming 300 x 4000 foot blocks with twelve 50- foot wide lots to a block. The Federal Government auctioned off lots in 1910.

Agricultural development, which is the present economical mainstay of the area, commenced on March 2, 1867, when Congress appropriated $50,000 for the Indians' irrigation system. This money was used for the construction of the Grant-Dent canal from 1867 to 1871. Early irrigated farming was dismal and painstaking - banks washed away, canal caved in, wells served up alkali water, river flooding washed out new construction and equipment. However, these early failures did not discourage those who had visions of a great agricultural empire. By 1914 only 600 acres of Indian-owned land were being irrigated and inadequate drainage was water logging the majority of those acres. At this time, the Town of Parker had a population of 90, and the principal economic activity of the Town was a service and shipping center for agriculture and mining activities scattered throughout the area.

Regardless of the frustrations and problems connected with irrigation, agricultural activity on the reservation continued to expand while mining activity slackened. In 1936, over 5,000 acres of river bottomland were under irrigation. By 1941, when Headgate Rock Dam was constructed, there were 10,5000 acres of land under cultivation, and the guaranteed water level provided by the dam accelerated agricultural expansion. By 1955, 38,000 acres had been cleared for farming. During the time the Town of Parker took on the importance and character of a small agricultural service and shipping center. While Headgate Rock Dam ensure a controllable river water level, agricultural expansion proceeded at a rather fast pace. However, farming was plagued by high water tables, improper drainage and excessive salts rendering hundreds of acres useless for farming. This problem was resolved over the next seven years, and by 1963, land under cultivation accounted for 34,000 acres. Cotton became the big crop, and cotton gins were constructed in the Town of Parker. Between 1914 and 1937 Parker existed as a small community providing supplies and services to the agricultural and mining operations of the area, and in the late 1930's it provided community facilities to the construction and administrative people working on federal projects along the Colorado River. After World War II, tourists, sportsmen, and winter residents also became attracted to the smooth waters behind Headgate Rock Dam.

In 1937, a highway bridge was completed across the Colorado River connecting Arizona to California, thus ending the ferry service that had been in operation for 27 years by Joe Bush and his wife, Nellie T. In 1928, Parker Dam was completed, thus ensuring better water control of the river and creating a lake approximately 700 feet wide and 16 miles long called Lake Moovalya, and Indian word meaning "blue water". Thus the creation of, and ease of access to Lake Moovalya changed the character of the Town of Parker to some extent from a service center for agricultural and mining workers to one of providing supplies and services to tourists, fishermen, hunters, and boat enthusiasts. Due to the inability to provide long-tem leases, agricultural expansion of Indian Reservation lands had come to a standstill. In 1962, Congress granted the right to make 99-year non-agricultural leases of Indian Reservation lands and early in 1963 provided the right to make 25-year agricultural development leases. On June 3, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that the Colorado River Indian Reservation shall be entitled to enough water to irrigate 107,588 acres of agricultural land.

The Town of Parker officially incorporated as a town in 1948. In 1980, Parker annexed 13,000 acres of non-contiguous land ten miles to the southeast known as Parker South. In May 1982, by initiative petition, voters formed La Paz County from the northern portion of Yuma County. On January 1, 1983, Parker became the county seat for La Paz County.

I don't know how many of the other folks opted to make donations to the local economy but my wife managed to donate about $5 before we went back out to meet Chuck for the ride back to the airport. Waiting any longer could have resulted in this trip becoming more expensive that it already was. The ride home was every bit as smooth as the morning's flight in. Flying conditions were so pleasurable that it did not make any difference that I had a slight head wind making the flight last just a tad longer.

I want to extend a great big tip of the
"Royal Knife & Fork" to Chuck & Irene Graves for supplying the shuttle service to and from the airport. That was very thoughtful of them and very much appreciated.

The Parker Gang

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 4544X, BC-1 & 1.5
  • Bud and Don Munzer in 8645Q
  • Bob Jackson in 66CW
  • Chuck & Irene Graves in 944G, BC-44
  • Nancy Rogers and Vic Hannig in 34086, BC-177
  • Joe & Diane Stockwell in 843CD, BC-22
  • Jim & Maria Boody in 2993B, BC-918
  • Gary Moseley in 6987M
  • Roger and Travis Whittier in 706CD, BC-122
  • Richard Azimov in 6864Q, BC-2
  • Trent Heidtke, Tim Yoder, and Ramona Yoder in 4638W, BC-112
  • Dick & Pauline McNaney in 5546Q
  • Glen & Judy Yoder and Rick & Becky Hamburg in 31TC, BC-007
  • Larry & Brad Jensen in 14LJ, BC-65
  • Allan Wallace and Jerry & Nancy Grout in 33RX, BC-39

What's Next?

The February
Breakfast Club event will see us making an encore visit to Kingman, Arizona and the airport café. In March, we will be traveling to Nogales, Arizona and Ange's Café. That's all for now, but remember, fly safe.

Click on the Parker link to view photos of this fly-in event.