Saturday, September 04, 2010

So Much For On Location Research...

I took a trip down to the Salton Sea last weekend, to check out the south side. The north side was nice and I will go back one day and take a few more photographs; however, it didn't work scene wise for what I had in my mind for my new story. A lady friend went with me, and thinking this sounded like quite an adventure, she'd packed a few snacks and a couple of large bottles of iced tea. Thank goodness for her maternal instincts because she saved the day.

I saw Desert Shores come up on the horizon and it was a tiny little place set on the edge of the sea. Perfect. That was what I had visualized. We turned off the highway and ventured past broken down homes, rusted out trucks, establishments that no longer functioned, and the most awful trailer park I've ever seen in my life. But it was so exciting. This was exactly what my story called for. I parked the car on a stretch of sand, grabbed the camera and started shooting pictures. We both felt a bit nervous as there were some strange characters looking out from the partially rusted trailers that were less than fifty feet from us. I made the photography aspect as snappy as I could, and backed the car out fast.

About a mile or so up the road, we heard a strange sound. We thought we had a flat tire and got out to examine each one. Nope. Everything looked fine. Four miles down the freeway we knew we had a major problem. The car sounded like metal was grinding on the road. We pulled over and in the top of the driver side tire there were two huge pieces of wire and the tire was hissing air. It deflated right in front of us. We were on the highway halfway between Coachella and Brawley, which is almost at the Mexican border. I called AAA. They said twenty minutes. We figured no problem, and broke out the snacks and iced tea.

A half hour came and went and no truck appeared. A very nice young man from Border Patrol pulled up. He helped us get the car across to the shoulder, and stayed with us to keep us safe. So there we were, standing at the side of a bright red Camry, on hot asphalt, in blazing noon day heat. We were in the middle of the California desert, chatting with a twenty something young man who had recently relocated from the East coast.

I'd wanted to save the battery on the cell phone so had turned it off. I turned it back on and there was a message from our guy. He'd be a while. I called him back to find out he lived in Brawley, and it would be at least an hour. We'd already baked for forty minutes. The Aussie came out in me then, and I told him it was too bloody hot, and that I'd change the damn tire myself. The handsome young patrol officer hid a grin, and said he'd be happy to help. He changed the tire in five minutes and wouldn't even let me help. I told him he'd be in one of my novels under a different name, but he'd play the role of the handsome hero. He seemed to like that.

While it wasn't his role to change tires on the highway, he was a young man with a good heart, and he wasn't about to drive away and leave us to fend for ourselves. It's so nice to know there are guys like Nick out there. All I could think of was somewhere there is a mother who is very happy with how her son turned out. I offered him $20 but he refused it. I sent a letter to the department, praising him, and thanking them for watching out for women drivers travelling in places that are off the beaten track. I hope the letter was shared with him.

But as for doing anymore research, I think I'll stick to the internet.

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