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Tripping away to the desert

     My doughnut sits contentedly on its napkin on the passenger seat beside me. My coffee waits patiently in the cupholder. No coffee or doughnuts for the Buick; it has a tank full of $3.59 a gallon gas to keep it happy. And I'm heading to Palm Desert for a long weekend.

     The plants have been watered, the groceries bought for the stay-at-homes, and family and friends arranged for to stay with Paul—or more to the point, to take him to Starbucks, the mall, church, dinner and to put it bluntly, spoil him rotten. He is not a stay-at-home kind'a guy.

     So now it's me 'n my Buick Regal Turbocharge leaving for Palm Desert with my most favoritest coffee in the world and my most favoritest doughnut for traveling—the glazed old-fashioned, so easy to peel off pieces of the chunky outer rim while driving, without having to look down away from the road.

     I'm taking the back route, from Interstate 15 to CA-79S, then to CA-371E which leads to CA-74E which twists and turns for miles driving down to CA-111 and Palm Desert. By the time I get from home to the I-15, the coffee has mellowed to a pleasant almost-hot-but-not-too-hot temp. The first sip slides down smoothly, surprising me with its deliciously mellow coffee flavor. I break off pieces of doughnut occasionally as I sail along the freeway at eighty miles an hour. Gotta keep up with traffic, you know.

     After the exit onto CA-79 I start running into orange signs warning of road work ahead. Well, I didn't literally run into them. I dodged them quite skillfully. Smugly their comrades-in-signage told me that all fines would be doubled in construction zones. I guess you have to pay extra to be slowed up by construction.

     Next up: those yellow signs telling me I might be hit by rocks sliding down off the hillside. Now that's encouraging. Should I go faster? Slower? Who knows? But I'm on alert. After that, it's the deer. On CA-371, the deer are taking over. Or so the sign says.

     Fake signs! Fake signs! There was not one bit of road work. No heavy equipment rumbled across the lanes; no good-looking flagmen or flagwomen held up those lollypop slow/stop signs. Not a single rock crashed into my car. And deer? I guess they were all on vacation in the Alps.

     But then. . . There are some other signs. You see them everywhere, those yellow signs with the huge black arrows on them. They don't say anything, not a word—but you know they're going to throw you a curve.  On this trip to the desert, those wordless signs came through with more curves than a major league pitcher in the playoffs.

     In spite of all this, I arrived in Palm Desert two hours ahead of check-in time, planning to stop for lunch before I went to the Best Western PLUS. The best-laid plans. . .went out the window. I stopped in and registered early and the desk clerk said they had a room ready and I could check in now. She gave me a second floor room and by the way, the elevator is out of commission.

     What can a lady do? I lugged my suitcase up the flight of stairs, slid my card in the slot, opened the door and Shock! There wasn't anybody lying naked on the bed, but the bed itself was naked, its sheets lying in heaps on the floor at its feet. The room was a disaster! If this was "ready"—well, obviously not.

     To be continued. . .

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