The Breakfast Club 
The Knife & Fork

The Breakfast Club Visits Lake Mead, Nevada

By Paul Fortune
15 June 2002

 Dominant high pressure was over much of Arizona on June 15, 2002, as the Breakfast Club prepared to embark on a journey to Echo Bay Marina on the Nevada side of Lake Mead.  Forecast highs in the Valley of the Sun that afternoon were to be in excess of 110 degrees. Even the Mogollon hideaway Town of Payson was slated to endure a searing high of 101 degrees.  It was a good day to go flying out of town.

BC-3 and others leaving Deer Valley got off to a late start Saturday morning due to some unusual activity on the field.  Apparently, a Cessna 182 pilot had crashed shortly after takeoff earlier that morning; the plane was found nose down in the northeast quadrant of the airport property surrounded by a host of emergency and fire vehicles.  By 7:45 a.m. there were six or more aircraft trying to escape the north valley on Rwy 7R from C1, C2 and C3, while the tower controller did an excellent and professional job of coordinating the departures along with the occasional and necessary ground vehicle runway crossings.

Otherwise, departure was normal.  The climb out was smooth and comfortable to 8500 feet, navigating GPS-direct to 0L9, but visibility suffered due to perennial haze.  Abeam Prescott to the west of the Bradshaws one could spot the San Francisco Peaks off in the distance at 2 o'clock - only the tops of the mountains were visible because of the haze.  At 8500 feet, Ms. Julie Cramer (BC-3.5) assumed first officer duties and commanded the Seneca flagship for the duration of the flight.  Her airmanship and expert handling were second to none as she maneuvered the 34 past Prescott, Bagdad and Kingman, and finally over Lake Mead for a descent into Echo Bay.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area exists as a result of the creation of Hoover Dam in 1936.  The project was completed after six years of intensive labor by up to 16,000 workers during the days of the Great Depression.  It is one of the largest artificially made lakes in the world, bordered by 550 miles of shoreline and hemmed in by hills and colorful, rugged cliffs.  Viewed from the air, the lake appears almost like a scene from another world.  Barren, white wedges of desert land dip beneath diaphanous, blue water until they disappear from sight. There is no sign of habitation, development, or civilization around most of the lake's perimeter.  Only at selected locations like Temple Bar Marina and Echo Bay are there oases of life punctuating the otherwise harsh expanses of rugged shoreline.  There are dozens of secluded bays and coves around the lake where boaters can get lost in their own quiet corner of the world.  Due to the drought over the past few years and the necessary release of Colorado River water through the dam downstream, the waterline in the lake has fallen 52 feet below normal levels.  It is expected to drop another 10 feet before relief is felt.  Still, the Resort at Echo Bay flourishes.

The runway at Echo Bay is asphalt and in fine shape; the ramp and taxiways are also doing very nicely since they were repaved last year.  Flight Guide Airport Manual shows the 3400 foot runway as hard-surfaced (solid filled), but a notation below the runway says "loose grvl," and another note above the taxiway says "Ruf."  The runway at Echo Bay is anything but loose grvl, and the only thing rough about the ramp was the relentless heat still dogging us due to the surrounding arid desert, and that blasted high pressure over the Southwest that kept the temperatures in the red zone.

A van from Echo Bay Marina was waiting for us as we arrived.  By then there were 11 hungry BC participants slowly toasting in the morning sun on the ramp.  When 901KA's occupants deplaned, there were 16 looking for a ride to the resort.  The van could only hold 12, but by good fortune, another passenger car happened to be there.  Mardell Haskins, a pilot and resident of Overton, Nevada, had just delivered a few passengers to the airport and was about to leave, when she saw our need and graciously offered to assist.  Mardell has been flying and racing airplanes since the 70s and is the International Director of The Ninety Nines, Inc.  She keeps her Cherokee 235 in Overton, a town at the north end of Lake Mead.  The remaining four BC personnel piled in with her and we were off.  Along the way, Mardell explained a little bit about the region.  There are underground springs in the area that rise to just below the surface and provide water for the verdant communities nearby, several of which are named after the springs that support them.  Big horn sheep and burros are the most common 4-footed wildlife roaming the hills and cliffs of this desert.  Wild horses have also been seen, but rarely.

Echo Bay Resort includes a restaurant/lounge and an adjacent hotel above the marina.  The restaurant is comfortable and interesting, with a nautical, "Eastern Seaboard" style of décor.  Ships' wheels and other sea vessel accoutrements decorate the dark-stained wood interior walls.  Models of sailing ships adorn the shelves between rooms.  In the ceiling are dark pressed-cork tiles and mariner style lanterns that keep the back dining area dimly lit with a contemplative, relaxed atmosphere.  In the front is a larger room that is brighter due to large viewing windows that face the lake.  Throughout the restaurant is an intriguing array of thick ropes, blocks, tail jiggers, and other ship's rigging, strewn both vertically between the shelf ledges and the ceiling and horizontally between dark stained 8x8 support beams.  One can't help but wonder how such an elaborate maritime motif wound up in a restaurant on a man-made lake in Nevada's desert.  But hey, it's the ambiance we pay the big bucks for, isn't it?

The hotel was built in 1962 and is co-located with the restaurant/lounge.  Standard rooms with king beds face the waterfront; standard double rooms face the parking lot.  There are four deluxe rooms that are larger and include a hide-a-bed.  Prices range from $85 to over $100.

The walk down to the marina grows longer every week as the water level continues to drop.  Three times now the floating walkway to the marina has had to be relocated farther downhill due to the retreating waterline.  On the marina are a convenience store, a fueling station, and a line of slips for the houseboats.  After breakfast, seven remaining Breakfast Club longshoremen elected to take a tour of a couple of these houseboats, as long as they seemed to be entreating our investigation.  Seven Crown Resorts operates the houseboats at Echo Bay Resort and six other locations throughout California, Nevada and Arizona, including Lake Mohave, Lake Shasta and the California Delta.  The BC entourage toured two models with occupant capacities of 10 and 13 persons respectively.  Both models have full bathrooms with showers, patio BBQ grills, gas ranges and complete kitchen and dining room facilities.  The 13 passenger model has an additional bathroom, 3 more built-in bunks, and a penthouse on the roof (presumably where adults can stow kids for the evening, while they enjoy a few hours of serenity on the lake).  The SCR management strongly recommends purchasing supplemental insurance while trolling about the lake, especially since the water level has dropped so much lately.  It shouldn't be surprising that a wide variety of sub-marine mountains and boulders 52 feet below the normal surface level of the lake lay in wait for passing vessels.  Houseboats rent for 3 days/2 nights to 7 days/6 nights.  Rates run... well, the 13 passenger Grand Sierra runs $2000 to $3000 in the summer season.  Smaller boats housing 6-8 can be had for as little as $1000 for 3 days.  Should the Breakfast Club be looking into such a seafaring adventure for the 2003 schedule?  Something to think about.

Desert heat takes its toll even on stalwart Breakfast Club aviators.  The remaining seven sensed a growing need to be air lifted out as quickly as possible.  A courtesy van was summoned and we said good bye to the Echo Bay nautical restaurant, the marina way down the hill, the catfish in the lake beside the marina, and the expensive houseboats in their slips.  BC-007 and his first officer were first to board their Beech 35 and depart to the southeast over the lake, quickly followed by BC-3 and guest, BC -17, BC-61, and BC-3.5 (who opted to surrender to unconsciousness for the return trip home).  The journey back to Phoenix, even at 9500 feet, was choppy - typical of a June flight at 1300 local time.  Linda Taylor, a commercial rated pilot herself, took the helm while the rest of us sat back and enjoyed a music CD from the entertainment center on board.  There was very little activity at DVT as BC-3 called in over Lake Pleasant, and we were quickly given the south runway with only one other Pan Am flight in the vicinity. It was good to be back home again, but a lakeside breakfast getaway is always a pleasant experience.  Perhaps we'll pass this way again some day.

The Breakfast Club cast for Echo Bay

 What's Next?

The July Breakfast Club event is scheduled for Deming, NM.  I do not have any details on this one yet but I will let everyone know when they have been finalized.  In August, the Breakfast Club will travel to cooler, Prescott, AZ.  Also in August, we have a weekend event scheduled for Durango, Colorado and the narrow guage train ride to Silverton.  Since the train ride reservations sell-out quickly, you will need to make your reservations, early.  That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Below are links to some pictures that were taken by Paul Fortune.  Since I was not able to attend this event, Paul also wrote this edition of the Knife & Fork and I added the graffics and color.  I believe that you would agree that Paul did an outstanding job with this newsletter along with the photos.  Feel free to drop him a line at, in appreciation of his fine efforts.

Departing DVT    C182 Mishap at DVT    BC 3 & 3.5    Red Lake    Lake Mead 1    Lake Mead 2

Echo Bay      Hotel 1    Hotel 2    Marina 1    Marina 2    Houseboat