This weekend I am in Phoenix for a quick gathering of the family and I almost didn’t make it. I knew I should have had my act together and got an earlier start on my trip. I left Friday afternoon around 2:15pm – about an hour or two after what I wanted to leave. The plan was to be ready to go from work and then get on the road. I was really tired and wanted to relax a bit before I took off so hence the delay. I also was a bit worried since I went to see David Lynch’s Inland Empire on Thursday night with Daniel and Tara. The movie was three very involved and demanding hours. After the movie I was completely drained and to boot I had to get up in the morning to go to work.
So after much delay, I was finally on my way. Two hours later I had only traveled 56 miles and was in Riverside. I was so tired and miserable I wanted to just go find someplace to take a nap. I pressed on and when I passed the 215 split It was wide open. I drove through Palm Springs and was thinking of making a quick stop to pee and get something to drink, but I was waiting for the last exit before going up the Chiriaco summit. At the last minute, I decided to press on and see if I could make it to Blythe or at least the top of the summit or Desert Center.
About 5 to 10 minutes into my ascent, all traffic suddenly started to slow down to a crawl and then finally came to a complete stop. People started to get out of their cars and just up the road I began to see glowing lights on the side of the hills and then flames began to shoot up in the sky. In a brief moment I considered what I would grab if I had to make a run for it. I discovered my flashlight was dead and even worse – my accessory outlet had shorted out and there was no way for me to re-charge my cell phone in case I needed to call for help. I left my car and scrambled up the side of the freeway to see if I could get a better view and more importantly get a cell phone signal so I could call my mom and let her know that I was delayed.
We stayed put for 35 minutes as first a fire truck and then a tow truck went up the shoulder of the freeway to get to the scene of the accident. When I was on the top of the berm, I could see the traffic backed up all the way to Indio on the freeway. If only I had stopped to pee, then I would have just stayed there until the freeway re-opened. Once they got a lane open, I passed the scene of the accident and it looked like 3 cars had collided and 1 had burst into flames. For the next hour I really was spooked – just a bit of timing here and there and it could have been me.
Luckily, I made it to Phoenix in 7h34m. I figured that if I hadn’t been stuck on the freeway and in traffic, I would have made it in just under 6 hours. The first part of the trip really made me want to fly, but when I got into the open road, I remember why I like to just get on the road and go. I get nice quality me-time and its almost like a mini-vacation.
Today was spent picking up a my remaining Christmas presents as well as surprising my grandma with a new larger TV that she can actually watch without her glasses or her hearing aid. We paraded around her senior apartment complex singing carols until we arrived at her apartment. Boy was she surprised! Tomorrow we are having a family dinner since I have to go home tomorrow night and be back at the park on Monday morning.