It is going to be 17 degrees tonight. Will the Snow Miser’s evil, frigid grasp ever release? Well, there is no point wallowing in, excuse me, ON the frozen tundra. To deal with my current subzero neurosis, I find it helpful to reminisce about warmer days.
A little over six months ago, I was riding on the back of a motorcycle toward the Florida Everglades from
, and had my first near-death experience brought on by severe heat exposure. The trip down to the Keys was certainly a fiery challenge, but the trip back proved even more so…perhaps due, in part, to the absence of Skinny Girl Margarita. I avoided alcohol for this leg of the journey because of its dehydrating qualities. Yes, even I can make a conscious, healthy decision every now and then. Besides, the alcohol budget was depleted. Key West
Bill, my stepfather, has several idiosyncrasies when he takes to the road on his bike, like scalping for low room rates. He also only stops when his Harley is in need fuel, every
120 miles or so, selecting gas stations on the right side of the road only. The Dao of Motorcycle Riding with Bill is a novel in and of itself.*
During the first day of the return trip, the thermometer read near 100 degrees. Bill and Mom’s bike was leading the way, as Tom and I faithfully followed on our trusty steel horse. We avoided
traffic, going a different route--which turned out to be through Hell. Miami
From my perch, my head towered above Tom’s. I caught the full force of the choking humid air and the panoramic view of dwindling buildings synonymous with our fall into incivility. I wondered if Bill was ever going to make the day’s second stop…or, more importantly, if there was actually going to be a place for us to stop. At least the fringes of
proper had people, crack houses, and Walmart. The scene that spread out in front of me was Stephen King’s Waste Lands. It was absolutely the most desolate, desert –like place I can remember being, physically speaking. I was hot, thirsty, and on the verge of a panic attack, when Tom yelled over the roar of the cycle’s engine, “We have got to get fuel. We only have 20 more miles.” Thrown over sanity’s edge, I began to play out a funeral service in my head, with my paranoid, attention-deficient tendencies in full force…I hope people will actually attend, for there is nothing sadder that a funeral service with less than 10 people in attendance. I hope Steve Perkins will sing, “It is Well with my Soul.” I hope the casket is closed. Oh, that’s right, there will be nothing left for a casket…my remains will be picked clean by buzzards, and my bones will be seared to ashes in the solar, death rays which are currently beaming down on my shoulders. What does my Will say…do I still have ex-husband number two as my beneficiary? Doesn’t matter…I have nothing to bequeath. What a sad life I have had, and such a tragic end. Miami
Meanwhile, the conditions in the external world continued to worsen…As the miles ticked down and the road stretched eternally in front of us, I focused on what seems like hundreds of power poles lining the highway for as far as I could see. Pole with transom...pole with transom…pole with transom. The surreal scene reminded me of the biblical description of
’s outskirts under Roman rule, when people were crucified and left to rot on crosses as a crime deterrent for people entering the city. I am not sweating anymore. That can’t be good. There are buzzards circling, and I just seriously saw the skull of a cow. Jerusalem
Five miles later, however, a convenience store oasis came into view. A “Gas-n-Go!” And it’s on the right! Thank you baby Jesus! We fueled up there, had copious amounts of water, and grabbed a Subway sub. Civilization! For some odd reason, we ate at a picnic table by the dumpster…outside…in the heat. Seven feral, emaciated cats were under our feet, rubbing against our asphalt-encrusted calves, meowing for morsels of food. I didn’t care. I threw half of my Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki on whole wheat to my feline friends. Bon Appetit! I was ALIVE.
When we finally reached the
Everglades, it was strangely void of the alligators Bill so wanted us to see. We were told by a Park Ranger at the viewing facility that it was currently too hot for alligators to surface. A Mesozoic Era species that had survived 200 million years, weathered an apocalyptic meteor which eradicated the dinosaurs, and avoided the Lucchese brother’s bloodthirsty quest for their scaly skin to mass produce incredibly over-priced cowboy boots, couldn’t take the heat. It was pretty damn hot.
Seventeen degrees is not so bad after all.
*Might I say that I LOVE traveling Bill-style. He makes vacationing an adventure. From stopping at every eclectic roadside bar, the locations of which he has already mapped out in his head along with an odd story to share about each one, to veering off the beaten path to see something that is interesting (like thousands of
Everglades’ gators), there is never a dull moment.