Does anybody really know what time it is?

This weekend we made a surgical strike on Yuma, AZ to attend and shoot Midnight at the Oasis. This is an outstanding show with over 1,000 cars in attendance and we came away with the footage for a great episode, but this whole trip seemed to exist in its own strange time dimension.

We flew out of Evansville, IN on Friday morning at 6:00 am (CST) for Atlanta, which is in the Eastern Time zone where we languished for a couple hours before boarding a plane to San Diego, CA. Four and a half short hours later, we touched down in the Pacific Time zone in sunny California.

After gathering our gear, we made our way over to the rental car facility, located my name on the board, and went to the appointed parking space to see what they had assigned me this time. It was a brand new Nissan Altima; not exactly a ’56 Lincoln, but I figured it would get the job done.

Ben (the show’s producer) and I threw our stuff in the trunk, jumped in, and attempted to fire it up. This is where things got a little confusing. Nissan’s latest “innovation” is that they don’t use a key. They just have a fob and you sort of wave that in the general direction of the dash to let it know you’re there and then step on the brake pedal, hit a start button and theoretically, Vroom!

However when I hit the start button, the dash lights came on but nothing else happened. I hit the start button again and the dash lights went off. I repeated this sequence five more times, each time with the same result. Ben suggested that maybe it was running and it was just really quite. I dismissed that as patently absurd, but after I hit the start button the next time, I put the car in drive and to my amazement, it moved forward. It was at this point that it hit both of us that this Nissan was a hybrid. Duh. We sheepishly and stealthfully made our way to the exit of the rental car facility, hopped on I-8, and embarked on our three-hour drive over to Yuma.

I had never been in this neck of the woods before, and it really has some strange and diverse geology. Not far out of San Diego, you climb up over a range of mountains that appear to be comprised of huge piles of boulders unlike anything I’ve seen. The pass is at about 4,200 feet and then you drop back down to sea level on the other side. Farther along, you come into an area that looks like the Sahara Desert. Apparently this is where Patton trained his tank commanders for warfare in North Africa. Now days tho the tanks are replaced by battalions of ATV’s and Sandrails bombing around on these seemingly endless dunes. The dunes eventually give way to more typical sage brush and sand, and then things finally turn agricultural as you start to near Yuma. All the while, you catch periodic glimpses of the fence on the Mexican border which is no more than several hundred yards away.

Well, that was sort of the travelogue part of the trip, and we were feeling pretty good as we rolled in to our hotel in Yuma about 3:00 pm; or at least that’s what we thought.

Midnight at the Oasis kicks off with a parade on Friday, and they had asked me to be the Grand Marshall. I thought that the parade started at 5:30 pm, but I didn’t have any of the details about it nor was there any info awaiting us at the hotel. No prob, we still had plenty of time.

When I got to my room tho, I noticed that the clock read 4:00 pm. I checked my cell phone and lo and behold, it corroborated that time. Yuma was apparently in Mountain Time zone. Imagine that. I had just lost an hour, but I should still be OK for the parade if I hustle a bit (and figure out were it is).

It was just about at that moment tho when my hotel room phone rang and on the other end was a semi-panicked event organizer wondering where I was since the parade was going to start in less than a half hour, there were 500 cars waiting, and the natives were getting restless.

Less than a half hour?!? I thought it wasn’t supposed to start at 5:30! Apparently not. Holy crap!!!

I called Ben and apprised him of our latest crisis and sprung into action, throwing on an MCC shirt and cranking up my mustache in record time. We bolted from the hotel, dove into our trusty Nissan hybrid, floored it and silently glided off. Something about that last part just seemed sort of anticlimactic.

We immediately hit rush hour traffic and as the minutes ticked by, we inched ever closer to the parade staging area. After what seemed like hours but in fact was only about 10 minutes, we arrived at our destination, There were several police cars and motorcycles waiting for us with lights flashing and they parted the crowd and escorted our mute Nissan toward the head of the parade to cheers (and occasional jeers) of the crowd. When we got there, I hopped out of the Nissan and into the driver’s seat of an awaiting ’66 327/350HP Corvette roadster and the parade was underway, a mere 15 minutes late!

From that point on, everything went pretty smoothly. The parade followed a five mile route and there were thousands of spectators lining the streets along the way. The shoot the following day went off without a hitch, and we really saw some fantastic cars and met some great people. But the whole time warp thing wasn’t over yet.

That night, most of the nation switched to daylight savings time. A notable exception to that rule tho is Arizona. We were still facing a three hour drive back to San Diego Sunday morning to catch an 11:40 am flight back home. Considerable discussion ensued between Ben & me as to when 11:40 am Pacific Daylight time really was relative to where we were and therefore when we actually needed to leave Yuma so as not to miss our flight. I was told there would not be math in this job! At any rate, we ultimately sorted it out, and I am on the plane headed home. Yowza!

BTW, does anyone have the correct time?

[flv: 550 309]

Happy Motoring,

  1. Tim Painter says:

    Dennis-Your blog and video from your Yuma trip are great. Sometimes a sense of humor keeps things in perspective. Again thanks for helping make this year’s Midnight at the Oasis the best one ever. Organizers are already saying they will add more cars in 2010 and our custom ’53 Stude should be one of them!

    Tim Painter

    • Dennis Gage says:

      I really loved Midnight at the Oasis. Man what a gem! It’s going to make a killer episode. Oh yeah, and one more thing; Studes forever!!

      • Rich Robbins says:

        Dennis, you were the highlight of the car show! It was a pleasure meeting you and listening to your comments about our humble small town Classic Car Show; You will always have an open invitation. Thank you for the great photo ops. Can I refill your beverage? Lots of laughs and Fun!

        Happy Motoring- Rich Robbins

  2. Chris Hahn says:

    Sounds like a great time!

  3. Tim Painter says:

    Dennis-Have you thought about a show featuring your car(s)? It not only would be interesting to see your taste in classics but to watch you interview yourself. I can hear it now, “Dennis, where did you find this baby?” Reply: “Well, Dennis, actually this car was given to me by my Uncle Ralph, who also served as the inspiration for my moustache.” Or, “Dennis, let’s open the hood.” Reply: “OK, Dennis, but I’m going to need your help as this hood is incredibly heavy.” Or, “Dennis, OK if I drive your beauty?” Reply: “Be my guest.” You get the idea. Talk about a killer episode!

  4. Bertha Bombneck says:

    sounds like a great time (and I LOVE the episode concept suggestion from Tim, above :)! T’would be hilarious!

    Inquiring minds (and fans) would also love to know: where/how DO you find the time away from home & hearth to DO all these amazing trips, Dennis? You must have very understanding people in your Life!

  5. Paul Dems says:

    Hey Dennis…
    Any chance your are going to make it out to the beautiful northwest (Issaquah, Washington) again for one of the original XXX Root Beer car shows? We all would love to see you tour the events again!!

    Sincerely one of your shows biggest fan!


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