13 October 2010

What the Hail?

I don’t want anyone to get the impression that my trip was one disaster after another. It was very stressful at times, and it was very boring at times. But it was also funny at times. It was the overall effect of exhaustion from moving and packing, a re-injured back, extreme heat, and trying to get my cats into a gentle routine that made the first part of the journey so incredibly difficult. Our lives together heretofore had been pretty blissful as far as the two younger cats were concerned. Dustin had certainly gone through a number of difficult moments with me in the fifteen years plus we lived together, but the younger kids were most likely under the impression that the scariest thing about our lives together was that a baby came to stay for the day several times a week. Or that their much older sister had gotten sick suddenly and died rather unexpectedly the Christmas before.

On the plus side of the trip, I had gotten to go back to Cannon Beach and take some wonderful photographs, which in my book is a simple but wonderful pleasure. That it followed an hour-long battle trying to get Anjolie in the car in no way dampened my enthusiasm at being able to spend fifteen minutes or so at a pull-out, taking in the beauty that is so evident along the Oregon coast. That I got great photos from that shoot was priceless to me. That it was really chilly during that time was positively sublime. I haven’t felt that cool and contented with the weather since then, but no matter. The point is that the trip had its moments of fun and splendor as well as all the other stuff that happened.

So what does any of this have to do with hail? I’m getting to that. Suffice it to say that by the fourth day on the road that I was already fed up with the heat. I had entered Wyoming soon after that day of the trip began. I rejoiced in having left Oregon behind finally but I wasn’t particularly looking forward to having to drive all the way across Wyoming. There are moments of beauty along Interstate 80, but mostly it is a place of rolling sage brush. While I think the sage brush is pretty, it does get old after awhile and the only real break in the never-ending tumbleweeds are the watering holes scattered randomly along the road until you get near Laramie and Cheyenne where things get more picturesque.

As it approached mid-day, I could feel the temperature rising again.  I pulled into a rest stop in Nowheresville, Wyoming. I locked the kitties in the cab with the engine running and the a/c blasting and went to use the facilities. I texted my sweetheart while I peed, using my multi-tasking skills to the max, and after washing up in the sink, I started to head back out to the truck.

Before I’d pulled into the rest area, I’d asked the angels to cool it down at least ten degrees. I suggested helpfully that maybe they could lasso a few dozen clouds and lash them to my truck cab so we could ride along in the shade. Having made this trip a few times before, I was painfully aware that for at least a thousand miles of this trip, there is absolutely no shade anywhere. I knew I was burning buckets full of gas every day I had to spend running the truck air conditioning nonstop, but the alternative was unthinkable. Even if I didn’t end up with a heat stroke, or at the very least, heat exhaustion, it was definitely not safe for my cats to sit in the cab while I went in for even a quick break at a rest area.

Imagine my surprise when I came out of the restroom to find that it had not only suddenly and inexplicably clouded up, but it was also starting to hail pea-sized hail. I stood there with a couple of other women under the eaves and chuckled to myself. I had not considered frozen precipitation as a way to cool the air outside, but the angels had apparently. That tickled me no end, so I shrugged off the light pelting of the hailstones and trotted back out to the truck. Once inside, the hail let up, and I drove off still laughing at the cosmic joke. I have to state for the record that from that moment on, I never felt hot again for the remainder of the journey. I still had to run the air conditioning half the time, but even when the events of that afternoon began to play out, I didn’t have need of the air conditioning much of the remaining days of the trip.

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link: http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks

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