It had been a series of long, hot days and the miles were starting to eat away at her senses. The personal-challenge games she played were becoming harder to win and she was frustrated, but the wind warrior played anyway. Games like pushing limits of the aging motorcycle past its usual 150-mile fuel requirements, skipping personal pit stops and seeing how long she could go without shifting in her saddle were typical, but she’d become obsessed with crossing five state borders in one day, something she’d never seen accomplished out West. On this day, she’d started out in cold rain in Colorado and was determined to cross Utah, Arizona and Nevada in time for dinner in SoCal. She’d been hauling ass all day.
By the time she hit Vegas she was already tired and boiling in her leather. Navigating traffic along the outskirts of town, she decided to have a cooldown before tackling the sprawling desert that lay between her and California, so she lunched at a truck stop along the Interstate. Fishing ice out of her tea, she soaked her bandana as she scoped out the map and calculated daylight, figuring she could make it to Temecula as long as she didn’t get stopped by the CHP. The speedometer on her trusty Heritage had bailed long ago, leaving her to her own devices for gauging her tempo. Mostly, she chose to go fast: a system that was far from foolproof and had earned three pops from the cops in the last year and a half.
Cloud cover crept in. She took the cue to hit the road, but 90 miles later she pulled into Baker at the intersection of I-15 and Death Valley Road to cool down. She was melting. Eyeing the world’s largest thermometer erected at the four-way stop across from Alien Fresh Jerky shop, she questioned her commitment to her cause. At 115 degrees, she knew she’d be hard pressed to get across the desert that lay between the bike’s front wheel and her friend’s driveway. She counted on the dark clouds hovering beyond the city to provide a respite as she filled her helmet with water, dumped it over her already-soaked-with-sweat head and headed into the sweltering heat. She showed signs of dehydration.
A mere 20 miles later our little raisinette was nauseated and dizzy. She rattled down a rutted road to a place that looked like an old Stuckey’s joint, right in the middle of nowhere, wobbled to the counter and weakly asked if they had any ice. The room got small, dark and she hit the floor. So much for dinner.
For the next five hours she was sporadically awakened by a blast of water as a bearded, grizzled man announced, “Hey, you’re alright… we’re gonna take care of you,” as he doused her from a gallon jug. She’d been laid out, fully clothed with her boots off, on a lounge chair in the midst of an under-construction restaurant. Confusion swirled her mind as she questioning her surroundings and worried for the safety of her bike before she began to wonder what planet she might be on. There was some pretty crazy shit going on. Nothing made sense. As an assortment of characters drifted in and out of her cognizance, she became aware that she knew no one. “Where the hell am I?” she wondered, as she realized she was completely vulnerable.
Terrified, her mind tortured her as she waited for the aliens to unzip their outer layer and expose glowing inner beings with huge eyes who surely were not part of our solar system, instead being time travelers who landed here to scour earth for species worthy of their study. Surely bikers were top of the list of interesting subjects, but she did not want to be their guinea pig. Moreover, she was certain the creatures wanted a joy ride on her beloved machine. She began to work to clear her mind.
“We close soon,” grey beard warned. “Do you think you’ll be OK? We’re about 60 miles from Barstow. As soon as you get into town there’s an exit for a Chevron; take a right and you can find a place there on the left. You’ll be safe. Tell ’em Andrew sent you; we send people there all the time.” She nodded as she pulled boots over wet socks, noticing the fuzz in her head. The pod of rescuers gathered to wish her well as she blasted off into the sunset, seeking shelter. Hitting town, she took a left, got a hotel on the right and bolted the door for the night. She’d achieved her goal of five states in one day, but vowed to never again ride the desert in the dead of summer.