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.