San Diego is known for its beach weather year round, so when a forecast tells of heavy rains with chance of lightning and flooding some people run to the beach to see what storm clouds look like – beautiful, but I wouldn’t see them myself. I would be on the way to El Centro with Caleb to visit his uncle Ed working in warmer weather and staying at a hotel with a hot tub – the same one I was in last week with all of Ed’s co-workers keeping an eye on me. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the bikini I was wearing.
I picked Caleb up from work Friday, filled the tank with gas and the tires with air, and made the two-hour drive. The first hour was slow and full of hard rain. The second hour was cut short with high speeds on dry roads. Dinner would be burritos from Roberto’s Taco Shop. As I looked at the sauces on offer I wondered what had made me choose the orange sauce over the hot and chunky sauces I picked this time – sober. Caleb had refried beans wrapped in a tortilla and then we went back to the room where we talked until Ed went to bed after sending the two of us downstairs to get in the hot tub.
The next morning, Saturday, Ed was up before 5:00 am getting ready for work. Us talking woke Caleb. Then we grabbed muffins and bananas and headed to the flea market in Calexico that the guys had told us about. We found some books, like poetry from Robert Frost, and some clothes that I could get without having to try them on. Then we let the dogs run around at Heber Dunes SVRA before going back to the room. Caleb read poetry until we both fell asleep. I was tired from trying to sleep in a room with two snoring men.
We would get a surprise wake up when there was a knock at the door. Ed had come back for lunch at 11:30 am. He tried calling to let us know that the Blue Angels would be doing a public relations performance at 1:00 pm. I finished the other half of my burrito from last night and Caleb had some fruit for lunch. Then we drove to Ed’s hangar where he works – or sits around and gets paid to watches movies, read books, and play games. We got to watch the mechanical dance of men working after a plane taxis in.
The Blue Angels were in the air for thirty minutes and something was wrong with Magic Lantern (program on my camera) that kept me from being able to record their amazing maneuvers. Then I gave Caleb a tour of the base – gas station, liquor mart, and bowling alley. Caleb didn’t know my shoe size, but I still let him win. Then we picked up Ed from work and went to do laundry before dinner at Grasso’s Italian Restaurant. We ordered two servings of garlic bread. My stir fry veggies were large-cut covered in cream of mushroom. Caleb’s eggplant parmesan came with a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce – too much for a flexitarian that abstains, but enough food for two meals.
Then it was back to the room and hot tub so that I could drink beer while the guys filled up on Sailor Jerry. I had no troubles sleeping and Caleb was the first one up Sunday morning. He grabbed me some muffins and a banana and a bagel for himself. He thought we would let Ed sleep in, but all our gabbing woke him at 7:00 am – the latest I’ve ever known him to sleep. He went downstairs for food and then we took him to Calexico – the place he’d heard about and driven by, but never stopped because he doesn’t have room in his checked bag for a spare washer or couch and has no need for the spandex pants on sale.
From there, we drove out to Slab City and Salvation Mountain – a free camping place in the desert about nine miles east of the Salton Sea. We drove around taking in the sights and then found Area One – an amazing outdoor museum where we were given a tour by a man in a beret with a rainbow-colored beard. Lunch was at Lucky Chinese Restaurant. We all got heaping plates of food and we all took some home – me more than half because I was full, Ed half because he was anxious to get back to the barbecue at the hotel, and Caleb less than half after building up an appetite playing in the desert.
Ed grabbed some meat and joined the two of us in and near (alternating to control heat) the hot tub for the next two hours. I tried their rum – one with sprite and the other tea, but didn’t down any myself since I would be driving later. The booze opened the men up and they were able to talk about their feelings. Instead of leaving at 6:00 pm we didn’t end up leaving until after 7:30. I was happy they got to spend some time together and that I was there with them to enjoy it.
More photos here.