Thursday, February 18, 2016

Well, that was a bit embarrassing...

Our timing was good.  That scooter ride yesterday was great!  That high wind warning I mentioned in yesterday's post really kicked up during the night.  Didn't let up this morning.  Blowing even harder this afternoon.

We planned to pick up a rental car today... and that meant riding 2-up the 12 miles or so to the rental place.  In the wind.  We are in the desert, so that means plenty of blowing sand.  The wind was out of the northwest.  Our route took us west, then south, meaning we got to have some component of a crosswind the whole way.  And, the gusts (estimating 25 mph or so) moves you around on a lightweight scooter.  The worst of it was felt as we crossed on the overpass above I-10.  Just to the other side of that, the right lane (where people driving slow on a scooter would be) had sand drifts!  No traffic to our left, so I was able to put the quick maneuverability of the PCX to good use, as I swerved around the drifts.

We got to the rental place ahead of our scheduled time (of course), and had to wait for the one-woman show.  She was "Busy!  Busy!"  (her words)  One party she was finishing up with when we got there, then us.  I won't mention the name of the rental company, but they are "Number 2"... I didn't see any evidence that they were trying harder.  ;-)  When she finally went to work on our rental contract, she was fine.  She gave us a "free upgrade"... because they didn't have any mid-size cars there.  So, we are driving a Subaru Forester, and it is a very nice vehicle.

We left the scoot in front of the Avis (oops) building, and drove the Forester to lunch - a nearby Dickey's Barbecue that had just opened.  Dickey's is a Texas-based chain, and they do a good job on BBQ.  We drove around downtown Palm Springs a bit - it sits at the base of a mountain, so is quite sheltered from the wind.  Downtown Palm Springs was busy!  Not Avis rental place busy, but lots of people on the sidewalks and bumper-to-bumper cars in the street.

We plan to go back there this evening for their Village Fest - they close down a 4 or 5 block section of the main drag for vendors and music.  Every Thursday evening.

Back to the rental place, where I gave the Forester to Joan and geared up for the scoot.  About that "embarrassing stuff": no, the wind didn't blow me off the road... although it felt like it a time or two.  The wind had shifted to westerly and was gusting above 40 mph.  Not a fun time to be on the scooter, but I had Joan following me, keeping traffic from running me over.  At one stoplight, I was next to a Prius.  The light turned green, and I eased on the throttle... yes, the Prius pulled away from me.  Must be something to those Prius commercials where the bank robbers (driving a Prius) are able to get away from the police.  ;-)  The Prius didn't just leave me in the dust, it left me in the blowing sand, too.

With the wind gusting higher, the sand blasting me from the side, I was down to 30 mph on a road where the speed limit was 60.  Oh, the scoot could have gone faster, it just didn't feel particularly safe.  To add insult, there was a front-end loader moving the sand drifts off the other side of the road where I had previously swerved... with the wind blowing the stirred-up sand right at me.  That stings!  Yes, I had a jacket with armor, long pants, leather gloves... but, that sand found its way under my helmet.

For the last leg of the ride, I turned west and had the wind mostly at my back - easy cruising.
Back to the RV park, we have a bit of protection from the rigs behind and beside us.  Not enough to keep our chairs from blowing over. Not enough to leave the door open.  It is cooler today, though: around 73º compared to yesterday in the mid to upper 80s.  No "wind chill" with this gusty wind... but there is that "sand factor."  ;-)

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