Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stuck In Needles, CA As The World Ends


When the temp hit 110 degrees Fahrenheit and the power went out, it looked like the end of the world and I was stuck in Needles, CA.


Spouse and I were on the road for ten hours, heading west for some QT with the beach. The ride brought torrential rains in Flagstaff, lightning strikes to the pavement on Interstate 40, and more blinding rain. Needles—the questionable desert oasis--wasn't far, and Motel 6 always has its light on for a quick night's sleep alongside our traveling cat, Mouser.


We made ourselves and the cat at home at the M6, schlepped through the stifling 110-degree air over to Denny's for an icy chicken salad and iced tea. The sky blackened, spiraled wind-gusts roared pass our view window, and a few showy lightning strikes crossed the wicked sky. Waitresses chatted and yucked around with the three other customers, and really bad music slipped through the really badder speakers.

"Crack!" "Pop!" Silence. Darkness.

I asked our waitress to fill my cup with more tea and a side cup of ice—just in case. The storm continued, but the electrical power ceased, desisted and died. The restaurant's shift manager decided to shut 'er down. We shoveled our warming chicken salads down, counted out exact change for our bill and headed back to M6. Mouser was fine. He loves heat AND he wasn't in the car. He took to the window sill and smirked at the arriving guests and their pets.

"Hey, we have some wine in the ice chest," I recalled to spouse. Like superman to a crime scene, he was on it. Wine opened and plastic cups filled, we pulled our motel chairs outside thinking that at the very least the storm's winds would cool us down until power was back up and those noisy air conditioners would rattle us to sleep.

Single lightning bolts turned to web-like fireworks against the coal skies. The air seemed to turn red and I started thinking about Revelations. We looked out over the Colorado River where it took its Spanish name seriously. The temps didn't really lower by much, there was no a/c and we were witnessing the world's end and stuck in Needles.

I recanted my bad ways: No more swearing at stupid drivers and nincompoops; no more driving over the posted speed limit; no more lusting after chocolate when others must go without; no more gossip; no more calling annoying sales people Ferengi ; no more not flossing my teeth when I'm too tired; and no more wishing I had more when I have enough.

Meanwhile, the grumpy guy next to our room told all of us to "take our party someplace else." "All of us" were our new best friends—the other guests at the M6 who couldn't take the heat of the sealed tight and severely hot rooms. We shared our stories and photos of grand kids.

My cup of ice waned as did my energy. I had to lie down. So into the cold shower I went before stretching out against the warm sheets. It took three more hours of four cold showers, and several wet wash rags across my forehead until I knew that the world wasn't really ending after all.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

You told an amazing story of cold showers and washcloths. I could relate when I and my new husband from Kentucky, who knew nothing about Needles, CA when he reserved a room for our honeymoon in 1970, no air-conditioning then either and it was 112 degrees at midnight-- if there was air-conditioning, I could not feel it. I could not wait until the night was over and we were on our way back to Los Angeles.