Abandoned in the Desert

Let’s rent exotic cars and drive around the dessert they said. It will be fun they said…

Have you ever rented a $300,000 car? It’s quite an ordeal. Insurance is confirmed, driver’s license copied, liability release papers, walk around to inspect the car for the current condition, and then finally you can haphazardly fall into, ahem, gracefully position yourself into the driver’s seat.

Yeah, that’s right, I basically fell into the Lamborghini Huracan the first time, and maybe also a few other consecutive times. Don’t judge me. It’s nothing like my Honda Civic. The seats of this luxurious beast barely sit a few inches off the ground. My eyes could see this, but muscle memory was stronger.

Mission control we are go for pre-flight check.

It took thirty minutes for the rental place to explain the buttons and knobs. The middle console was not an armrest, but a control center for gadgets I’d never even heard of until now.

“You see that red button?”

I nodded.

“Never press it.”

My eyes wide with worry gazed at the strange man in anticipation of further explanation.

“It will take you out of the current driving mode and put you into racing. Basically, you will have much less control of the car.”

“Roger that. Don’t begin the self-destruct mode.”

My friends selected a Ferrari and Aston Martin. Instruction of their vehicles took less than ten minutes. The rocket ship I was strapped into was apparently the most complicated.

Our plan was to pick up a picnic lunch then head to the Hoover Dam. The only caveat was the guys couldn’t remember the name of the store or give directions. Visual memory was their navigating. We had to play follow the leader.

My car companion, Kim, nominated me to drive first, “I don’t want to drive through traffic.”

Gulp, that meant I would be piloting this rocket on wheels through the Las Vegas traffic. Navigating an alien craft through heavy traffic triggered instant anxiety, but the excitement of driving this incredible piece of machinery won out.

Houston we are go for launch.

Brakes? Brakes are a go.

Start engines? Start is a go.

Windows? Windows are a go.

Convertible top? Top is a go.

Gas? Gas is a go.

Huracan you are go for lift off in 3…2…1…launch.

With my eyes wide I turned to Kim, “Are you ready?”

She nodded.

Depressing the gas slightly I took the car on a short test flight around the parking lot to get a feel for the sensitivity of gas and brake pedals as well as the steering. Like a hot knife through butter, this car was smooth.

We followed Chris in the Aston Martin who was following Jason in the Ferrari. Out of the parking lot, through the city streets, and finally on the highway.

Once we hit the highway the White Ferrari took off like a shot. I feared this might happen. Scared of a ticket or Las Vegas jail, I was cautious and uncomfortable with speeding.

I focused on driving the car. Kim kept a close eye on the blue Aston Martin, keeping me in the right lane. We were able to weave in and out of vehicles to keep up with Chris.

“He’s exiting here.” Kim said.

Locating the appropriate button I turned on the right turn signal, checked my blind spot, and then switched lanes. At the last minute, Chris swung back out on the highway. Blocked in by traffic to my left and vehicles behind me on the exit ramp, I couldn’t follow him.

“Uh oh.”

Lost in a spaceship

“I’ll call them,” Kim said dialing.

Turning left off the exit, I found a parking lot where we could wait until we knew what we should do next.

“Hey, we’re separated. You guys pulled off the exit at the last minute and we couldn’t follow you. Where should we go now?” Kim asked.

A few ‘okays’ and ‘uh-huhs’ later, Kim hung up the phone.

“We need to get back on the highway going the same direction. When they figure out the exit, they will send it to us.”

We turned around in a residential area where we spotted a saguaro cactus in a front yard. Many of the yards had rocks instead of grass.

Eventually, we made it back to the highway heading in the right direction. Periodically Kim’s phone would ring with random directions.

“We just passed exit 54,” Kim said. “Okay, get off at exit 9. Got it.”

“Are they still on the same highway?” I asked Kim.

“I guess so.  They never said they took any other exits.”

“They’re really 45 miles ahead of us? How fast are they going?”

Staying in the flow of traffic, we found exit 9, then the grocery store where the rest of our group was. I parked the car and made sure it was secure before climbing out. We selected our picnic lunches, paid, and headed back to our cars.

You can’t miss it

“Are we heading straight to the Hoover Dam?” I asked.

“Yes. We will eat there before going on the tour.”

“Are we getting back on the same highway heading south?”

“Yeah, just follow us.”

“If history repeats itself, we will get separated. Is there only one place to end up at Hoover Dam?” I asked.

“Yes, you can’t miss it.”

Back in the Lamborghini, I put my sunglasses on and waited for Kim to click her seatbelt.

“Do you think they will lose us again?” Kim asked.

“More than likely,” I answered.

“Don’t worry girl, I’ll navigate. You just drive this crazy car.”

I smiled, pressed on the brake, and pushed the start button. The Lamborghini roared to life. Turning out of the lot we were immediately on the entrance ramp to the highway. We all floored the cars until we came up behind a car with a light bar on the top.

“Shit, is that a cop?” I asked Kim.

“It looks like it,” Kim answered. “Chris is passing him.”

“Is he crazy? I’m not passing a cop in this bright orange Lamborghini. That’s just begging for a ticket.”

“I wouldn’t either.”

Progressively Chris drove further and further away until we couldn’t see him.

“And here we are again, separated. Lost in the middle of the desert”

“I’ll plug the Hoover dam into my GPS and we’ll just follow the instructions.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Siri navigated us through road construction and finally to the parking garage of the Hoover Dam.

The incline for the garage was so steep that I couldn’t see over the hood of the car. A parking lot attendant kindly came over to tell me I had jumped lanes and offered to direct me.

“Have you seen a Ferrari or Aston Martin come this way?” I asked her.

“No, this is the only car like this we’ve seen today.” She said.

My face fell flat as I looked over to Kim.

“I’ll call them,” Kim said.

“Hey, we are at the parking garage. Is that where you guys are?” She asked. “No? You’re in a parking lot? Yes, we passed a stop sign. Oh, we were supposed to go straight instead of turning? Then we should go over a bridge, okay.”

“I thought there was only one place to end up at the Hoover dam and I couldn’t miss it.”

“Apparently we did,” Kim said. “I guess we are supposed to go back to the stop sign and go straight instead of turning,” Kim said.

“Which stop sign?” I asked. “Do they even know where we are? How can they know where we went wrong if they don’t know where we are?”

“Maybe it was that stop sign by the construction.”

“Okay, we’ll give it a try.”

We navigated the twisty-turns through the mountainous road, going back over the dam until we ended up in the construction area. At the stop sign, we went straight, or rather what would have been straight when we were coming through the first time.

“This is just going to put us back on the freeway. Didn’t they say they got off at this exit?” I asked.

She nodded. “Let’s just see where this takes us.”

0 to 100 in 4 seconds

Back on the highway, we drove over a big bridge. Straight, flat, and relatively empty, this road was too tempting to pass up. The stress of not knowing where I was, which direction I should be going, and driving around in a ridiculously expensive, unfamiliar missile reached a boiling point. I needed to let off steam and enjoy the power of this majestic creation.

“You want to have a little fun?” I asked Kim.

“Sure.” She said.

“Okay, I’m going to stop the car and see how fast we can get up to. Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

Looking around me there were very few cars. I brought the Lambo to a complete stop, looked over at Kim, then mashed the gas pedal to the floor. Our bodies were thrust back into the seats, our cheeks pulled back toward our throats, and the car launched forward with incredible power. A smile stretched from one ear to another and butterflies of joy danced in my stomach.

The speedometer climbed rapidly until it reached 100 mph. Approaching other cars, I let off the gas.

“Holy shit we just went zero to 100 in four seconds,” Kim said.

“That was awesome.” I grinned.

Allowing the car to slow down and our adrenaline to balance we sat smiling, pleasantly surprised with the engine’s power.

“Um, Kim, I’m pretty sure we are not supposed to see a Welcome to Arizona sign.”

We both laughed, hard.

Let’s rent exotic cars and drive around the dessert they said. It will be fun they said…they were right!


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