The Consequence of Changing Plans

March 13, 2016  •  5 Comments

I run inside a gas station in Beatty to escape the rain.  "Please tell me it isn't raining where you are."  Alison is driving from Los Angeles and I'm coming from Bishop and we're meeting up at Red Rock to climb.  "I wish I could" she responds.

"Maybe we should go to Joshua Tree instead.  We'll be able to climb on the rock tomorrow and Lisa has a camp site and invited us to stay there."  After some debating and discussion about how much rain is too much rain to climb on sandstone at Red Rock we agree that the best option is to go to Joshua Tree instead.  

I take a right onto State Route 127 and drive into the darkness of the deserted two lane highway.  The rain has finally stopped and I pick up the pace a little knowing that I still have a 4 hour drive ahead of me.  The road is hilly and curvy at times.  Adele is blasting over the speakers and I'm belting the lyrics of 'Someone Like You.' I'm happy and excited to see Alison and do some climbing with friends.

I take a turn on the highway and begin going into the other lane of traffic, I'm going to fast.  I pull the steering wheel to the right and begin to spine, I'm losing control.  I'm facing the opposite direction and my car hits the dirt and rock along the road.  "This is it, I'm going to get really hurt."  I close my eyes and accept what is about to happen to me.  The car lurches and feels like it's about to roll, but it doesn't.  It continues to spin and just as fast as it began I'm at a stop.  I'm OK.  Somehow I'm totally OK.  My car is parallel to the road facing the correct direction.  I pull the car forward a little to get it closer to the road.

I reach for my headlamp, which I somehow knew exactly where it was, even after the contents of the car had been tossed around.  I throw it on and step out of the car.  I walk along the drivers side towards the back of the car.  Nothing, no damage.  I continue to walk around to the passenger side, still no damage.  It isn't until I get to the front of the car that I see a flat tire.  I run around to the other side and the front driver's side tire is also flat.  I'm not going anywhere.  

Checking my phone, no service.  Shit.  I look up and down the road, no headlights.  Shit.  When was the last time I saw a car?  Have I even passed another car?  Shit.  

I start to consider my options.  I can wait for a car to come, but who will be in the car?  Will I be safe?  Do I get in the car with them?  My other option is to walk.  I passed a sign that said I was only a mile from the next town.  It's gotta be a small town.  What kind of town?  Is it safe?  Some of these small desert towns aren't too accepting of outsiders.  What will happen when I get there?  Will anything be open?  I look at the time, it's 8:50pm.  If I'm going to walk I need to do it now before everything in this town closes up.  

I jump into action putting on warm clothes and packing my backpack with supplies, extra layers, food, water, and wallet.  I throw on my pack and take a breath.  I look towards the town and I see headlights!  HEADLIGHTS!  I jump in the road and flag down the car.  It's a woman, thank god!  "Can you help me? I've been in an accident and I can't drive my car.  I don't have cell service."  She reluctantly agrees to go to town and call the Sheriff.  So I sit and wait.  Several other cars stop to ask if I need help, but I wave them on.  Finally, over an hour later the California Highway Patrol pulls up.  

He's nice and helpful.  He tells me that my best option is to ride into town with him to get a hotel room and call my insurance to get the process started with getting a tow.  I agree and pack a few more things for the night and slide in the backseat of his vehicle.  He tells me he has a daughter and that Red Rock is one of their places to go.  He tells me about what it's like patrolling in that area and the kind of people he deals with.

Once in town, we pull up in front of the Nugget Casino.  I joke, "it's funny to have you drop me off here, I'm sure it's usually the other way around."  He chuckles and nods in agreement.  He walks me in and asks for a room.  The woman behind the counter responds, "we're sold out, the whole town is because of the super bloom in Death Valley."  Shit.

We walk back out to his vehicle, and I call every hotel in town (there's a total of 4) and they are all sold out.  He calls his wife to see if I can stay there and she agrees.  He then calls his Sargent who says it's not OK.  So, this is it, I'm going to sit at the Nugget Casino and try to hatch a plan.  He shakes my hand and I tell him thank you for all of his help and for trying to offer me a place to stay.  I ask his name, "Robert,"  "Thank you Robert so much!"  I turn and walk into the Nugget with my bags and take a seat at the bar.  I order a shot of whiskey and a glass of Cabernet.

The next two hours are spent on the phone with insurance.  Calling car services, and talking to Alison.  After trying every option I can imagine I decide I'm going to stay awake all night in the casino.   Not excited about this idea I order another glass of Cab.  My phone rings, it's the tow truck driver.  He's going to come to the casino to get the keys to my car.  Before getting off the phone I ask, "Do you know anywhere I could stay tonight, the town is sold out of rooms."  "Well" he responds, "there's a brothel that has rooms.  Now I know what you're thinking, but it's real nice.  I've taken a lot of people there and everyone has enjoyed themselves."  I'm sure they have.

I call them.  They have a room.  

The tow truck arrives at the casino and I grab my bags and run outside.  I start throwing my bags into the cab.  "Are we all going to get the car?" He asks.  "Nope, you're going to take me to the brothel."  He reluctantly agrees and we begin driving.  His name is Paul and it turns out Paul is a mountaineer and has climbed lots of peaks including Denali.  He tells me about the cold winds and merciless temperatures on the mountain.  It's the coldest he's ever been.  "It's just a walk up," he says, "but it's unbearably cold."  I tell him he needs to give himself a little more credit.  

We arrive at the brothel and Paul walk me in.  I clutch my bags as I walk through the bar where the women are.  A couple of them are sitting at the bar talking to men, while another is lounging in a booth with a couple of men.  We continue through the bar to the hotel office.  I say goodbye to Paul and thank him for his help and get the key to my room.  I walk into my room and it's a typical hotel room.  Two beds with floral comforters, boring paintings on the wall, and an ancient TV.  

I look at the time, it's 2am.  I'm still wound up from everything that has happened and since I'll probably never stay at a brothel again I should go see what it's about.  So, I grab my wallet and confidently walk into the bar.  I sit down at the bar and order a Cabernet.  I take a sip of my wine and I'm approached by a woman, she leans in and whispers, "just so you know, only working women are allowed to sit at the bar."  "Oh", I say, "can I sit with you then?"  She looks at my confused, but agrees.  Her name is Holly, and she's worked at several of the local brothels.  Apparently, this one is the classiest.  I begin asking her a million questions about how it all works, what cut does the brothel get?  What do they are charge?  What do most clients want?  I'm fascinated!  An hour goes by and the two girls sitting at the bar go back to their rooms alone.  The bartender calls last call.  I say goodbye to Holly and wish her luck and turn into bed.  

The next morning I wake up to missed calls and text from friends and loved ones.  I spend the morning catching up and letting everyone know I'm alright.  I was in a car accident and slept at a brothel, but I'm alright. 

I eat lunch back in the bar the following day.  It's much sadder when the daylight is pouring into the dark bar.  As I eat I wonder what the women are like, do they have families, a boyfriend, husband?  Do their parents know where they are?  Do they like their job?  

After getting some food in my stomach I call a cab and go to check on my car.  The night had gone as well as it could in such a bad situation, but the journey wasn't over yet.  I still needed my car!  

The cab driver was a short woman with spiked hair. She slowly began asking me questions and I could tell she was trying to figure out my story.  So, I told her about the night before.  "Oh wow, I thought you might work there."  I laugh and tell her no.  She then tells me about driving clients out there.  The drivers sometimes wait in a lounge. She's seen the ladies line up for the men and they take their pick then choose what they want from a menu.  It's just business.  Sex business.  

She drops me off at the tire shop and tells me my story made her day.  Glad there's humor in it!

The rest of my day is spent in the waiting room at the shop.  I try to sleep for most of the day, curled up in a hard leather chair.  My car is finally done at 4pm.  There's still a sound and some rubbing happening somewhere, but they can't find the problem.  They've fixed the tires and aligned my car and tell me it's fine to drive home to Bishop.   So, I start the long drive back home.  I was sad that I wasn't going to see my friends.  Sad that I was alone.  Sad because all I wanted was a hug and for someone to tell me everything is alright. 

The silver lining, is that I drove through Death Valley during the golden hour.  I stopped many times to take pictures of the shadows across the hills and the beautiful wild flowers.  I also say an amazing sunset.  It made the disappointment and sadness I was feeling slightly better.  

I arrived home and threw open the front door.  I was so relieved to be surrounded by familiar things, to have my cat meowing at me for attention.  I was so happy the last 24 hours were over!  I was safe! The tears began to stream down my face.  It was all over and I had somehow survived all of it.  On my own.  I wept. I was so lucky.  So very lucky to be alive.


Tarek Salem(non-registered)
Amazing story Jess! What an glad you're alive and well!
I believe you have good karma !!!
That's an awesome, well written story....Thanks...
holy moly Jess! so glad you are alive and well with a great story!!
Charlie Brown(non-registered)
Great Story Jessica.
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