I'm stuck at home today, sick with something or other and bored silly. A perfect time to reminisce.
I left my home town of Willits, CA to move to Phoenix, Arizona on June 14, 1998. The goal was to drive to Las Vegas first and pick up my friend Mimi. Mimi was going to be my interior decorator and make my place look like a real home. Things didn't go quite as planned.
While driving through California's Death Valley, about 2 miles west of the town of Baker (the hottest, lowest, and driest area city in North America) my car's electrical system decided to die. You know how in the sci-fi shows, when the spacecraft flies over a car, it just dies? Just like that! My car was dead. All I could do was get out and walk the 2 miles into Baker in the 114° heat.
Walking 2 miles, in Death Valley, while wearing slacks and possessing a single can of soda is not such a good idea. I eventually made it to town in a somewhat delirious state and located a phone booth. Mimi told me later that the message I left was laced with profanities related to the car and the heat. I had no recollection of any of it. I still don't.
The local towing company took my car to the garage and upon inspection they found absolutely nothing wrong. The mechanic tightened the battery terminals anyway and hoped for the best. Thankfully he took mercy on me and didn't charge for anything, not even the towing. This is a surprise because when I relate my story to other accidental Baker visitors, the question of price is always countered with "How much you got?"
When I went to my room, I noticed that the door didn't lock. The lady at the front desk (presumably Mrs. Bates) gave me another room which also did not have a working lock. Oh, and the sliding glass doors to the pool area were also unlockable. But at last, the final trip to the front office got me yet another room that did have somewhat working locks on all doors. Needless to say, I slept uneasy that night and with my 9mm under my pillow.
I got up early the next morning and hopped into the shower and apparently hopped too hard. With full weight on one leg, my foot went completely through the plastic shower floor and right into concrete beneath it.
As I touched on earlier, I have had the opportunity to share the humor of this story to a number of people over the years and come to find out that breaking down outside of Baker is a quite common occurrence. Thankfully though, Arne's Royal Hawaiian Motel is long out of business. As for Mimi, she is doing well. We got together at Yoshi's last year for lunch. It was the first time I had seen her in over 16 years.