Day Three took us from my parents’ home in the Scottsdale area to Oxnard, CA. It was a gorgeous drive, albeit long, with lots of fun pictures. But we had an unexpected event at the border.
We have already been stopped by Border Patrol and asked what country we have citizenship with, so we weren’t surprised when we had to stop at the California state line. We assumed we would have to do it again. So imagine our surprise when we were instead robbed of our fresh fruit.
I had been asked at various borders before about whether I had any plants in my car, so I’m familiar with the laws involving moving plants across state lines, in order to control bugs and blight. But when the guard at the mandatory state line stop asked us where we were coming from, we weren’t sure what to say. I come from Florida, Vicci comes from Texas, and we have driven through a bunch of states, so Vicci just stated the obvious: “We came from Arizona.” After all, we had just crossed the border from AZ to CA, had we not? The agent looked at her like she was a little slow and said, “Why does your car have Texas tags?”
Well, shoot. That launched the whole story, “Well, she comes from Florida, I come from Texas, we’re driving across the country, but we just came from Arizona.” Duh.
Then came the big question: “Do you have any produce in the car?”
Both of us stared dumbly at each other. Days ago, when we first started in Austin, we stocked up on lots of food for the trip, some of it produce. But have we already eaten it? Is there any left? If so, what? So we both sort of stammered, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
The guard looked at us skeptically, and Vicci said, “Wait, I might have an apple.”
“Where did it come from?” he asked. There was THAT question again.
“I bought it in Texas,” she said. We bought a whole bunch of organic fruit for the trip in Texas. He said he was going to have to see it. So I unbuckled my seat belt and climbed over the back seat to get into the cooler. But first, I found a couple of bananas under a pair of jeans and fessed up. “Here are some bananas.”
He said we could keep those. They were all brown and bruised anyway, so I wouldn’t have minded handing them over to him, just to throw away, if nothing else.
I opened the cooler and found the apple. He confiscated it. I also found a bag of cherries. He took them. I felt like an idiot, after telling him I didn’t think we had any produce, to suddenly be pulling out a seemingly endless supply of fruit, like Mary Poppins pulling things out of her carpetbag.
He took it all but the bananas and let us go. It wasn’t until an hour later, when looking for something to munch on that I found the bag of kiwis that my mom had given us before we left her house.
From there, traffic got very heavy as we drove through the Palm Springs area and their windmill fields. We stopped at the Cabazon dinosaur exhibit (the ones that you saw in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) and had some meatloaf at the attached diner (one of the locals tried to hit on Vicci, asking if he knew her from Denny’s. She said she doesn’t eat at Denny’s. That’s a lie, but who tries to pick up a woman by asking if he knows her from one of them?). We then drove through smoggy LA up to PCH, and eventually stopped for the night at our hotel in Oxnard.
We’ve been driving pretty much nonstop for three days, so we simply collapsed at the hotel, where I battled my computer for another 45 minutes, begging it to start up for me. I got my pics loaded off the camera and posted on Facebook, and we both decided we should eat and go to bed. So I called the front desk to ask what restaurants were close by and was told about Henri’s Café, across the street.
We walked across the street, only to find nothing but a CVS drugstore. We asked a clerk inside where we might find Henri’s, and he told us it was across the street. Apparently we have just moved into an Escher style time-space warp. We wandered up the block, Vicci begging the whole time to go back and get the car, but I saw a cluster of restaurant type buildings just at the traffic light so I pressed her to walk just a little further. We found three restaurants: Henri’s Café, Cabo and Bamboo Stix. All were closed. It was 9:03 and they all closed at 9:00. We were screwed.
But we were in luck! There was a grocery store! It was called Vallarta, and was obviously still open. We went inside and realized that it was a Spanish language store. We were the only white people in there. No problem. They take American money, of course, so we wandered over to the deli counter to order something to go.
They had just closed the deli. In a fit of hysterical laughter, we left the store and sat on the sidewalk outside, because Vicci needed a moment. She lit a cigarette and suggested we take the golf cart that was clearly marked “Security” to go further down the block, to find some food. I pointed at the security guard who was standing just behind us and mentioned that he might take exception to her plan. Instead, she asked him where we could find some food. He gave us that same look that the border guard gave us and said, “You’re in front of a grocery store.”
Once we explained that they had just closed the deli, and we were staying in the hotel with no cooking facilities, he gave us directions to a place a few miles down the road: Denny’s.
We wandered back to our hotel, where we ate string cheese and Trader Joe crackers. We would have added some fresh organic produce to the meal, but that was surrendered at the border.
It wasn’t until this morning that I remembered about the kiwis.
Check out pictures from Epiphany Quest 2010 on my Facebook page! The link is over there —–>