Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Where Were You When?
Coverage of the Virginia earthquake, the one that damaged the capitol, jolted the east coast and commandeered the media for a whole day, started me thinking. The last earthquake I experienced was as memorable as anything I’ve lived through, not because it was so serious and destructive—it wasn’t—but because we were so naïve.
I had a meeting in Denver and, two weeks later, we were scheduled to attend a wedding in Los Angeles. Once halfway across the country, surely we had to stay out west. We packed up our three parrots, our most formal clothes (the wedding was at the Beverly Wilshire hotel) and whatever else we could think of and flew to Denver to pick up our rented motor home.
Between Denver and LA we park-hopped, visiting the national parks we had only seen in photos. I can still see the incredible reds and yellows of Bryce Canyon and I can feel the terror when we drove the outside lane of the Colorado National Monument. The road through the Monument is on the edge of the cliffs, without guardrails, and unbelievably twisted.
After we marveled at El Capitan, we decided to explore Palm Desert. From the comfort of our air conditioned coach, we looked at what we thought was a ghost town. There was no one on the street. We parked and decided to explore, stepped out of the motor home and didn’t even touch the ground. We retreated to the comfort of our air conditioning so fast, that all I could think of was a movie played in reverse. Don’t go to the desert in July.
Our final destination was just south of Malibu and a camp on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. We settled down on a site in the first row, the front of the motor home extending over the edge of the cliff. The next day our newly married son and daughter-in-law joined us so we could attend the wedding together.
Our only transportation was a motor home with three very noisy parrots in their traveling cages, so off we went to the Beverly Wilshire. I dare say the doormen still remember the ridiculous scene, the four of us in our formal attire, descending from a motor home that sounded like an aviary. A motor home is out of place in front of the Beverly Wilshire but not quite as bad as it was in front of our condo in Trump Tower in Manhattan.
The wedding was…beautiful, stuffy, formal, noisy, and very expensive. When we finally returned to our paradise overlooking the Pacific, it was late and all of us to fell asleep almost immediately, our son and his wife slept in the front room and we retreated to the rear bedroom.
At about three in the morning, the motor home began to feel like a boat. It was bobbing and shaking for no apparent reason. What were those kids doing up there? Motor homes rock when jostled and we figured they were they cause. We looked out the window to check on the picnic table. It hadn’t moved, so we agreed not to say anything for fear of embarrassing the two in the front room.
We didn’t even think about the bobbing and rocking until the next morning, when the father of the bride asked if we had liked their entertainment, which he proceeded to explain was an earthquake. So it wasn’t our kids having a good time. I liked our explanation better—it was more enticing.