What AZ has that We don't is the cooling influence of thunderstorms. I really miss those -- back on Long Island they were an almost daily occurrence during the summer, swinging across that glorified sand bar from west to east, dumping a cooling wave of water that broke the heat's back.
All day yesterday I was a slug, barely stirring from lavendersage and lovingstones's place long enough to eat at the Chevy's in Emeryville (the one right on the water -- cooler, gorgeous views, and strangely empty even for a weekday) and to head over to Ikea to snag a computer desk/cabinet for Eileen. Ikea was overwhelming to the point that I wound up hanging out outside, especially when Audra started to complain about being made to wait over an hour for the order. She was right to, I should hasten to add, but I was not up to all the conflict at the moment. I think the only reason I was able to handle what I did was due to taking some time to walk out onto the dock behind the restaurant and spend some time feeling the wind, digging on the nature, and contemplate the strangely erratic beat in the distance as the pile drivers pounded in the supports for the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.
We got back to their place more or less intact, in spite of the contortionist positioning required for me to fit in the Mazda with several large boxes, one which was sticking out the back, bungee corded in place by yours truly. Audra couldn't resist picking up an easel for herself, so that was balanced on top and angled in such a way I was certain it would take my left arm off if we were in any sort of collision. Already a bit hypersensitive, I practically cowered at every short stop on the freeway ride home.
I felt so void of course I more or less wandered through the rest of the day, though I did get to spend some quality time with Eileen on the princess bed in the only room that has air conditioning.
I finally managed to get my ass in gear around 9:30 PM to head home. As I pulled onto 880, I realized that I was actually getting rained on again, which puzzled me as their was almost no cloud cover to speak of. Then, as if on cue, a spectacular earth to sky lightning strike split the horizon directly in front of me. And again. And...
Well, it didn't rain much at all, but it was enough to provide me with an olfactory flashback to those storms in NY, or even that time driving through Arizona through one monsoon after another (one with hail large enough to crack the windshield of the rental van). I stopped to pick up some Milk and chocolate for Michele and Rob, and made my way up 9 over the hill.
It seemed like every open vista gave me another spectacular light show. It was happening so frequently I decided to pull into a turn off that I know of about a mile or so after the summit.
This was well after 11 at this point, but the temperature was still in the upper 70's. The view was incredible: The flashing was constant, and the earth/sky strikes were un-nervingly repetitive. I had a perfect vantage point sitting on a picnic table, listening to some excellent celtic music that some other storm watchers had cranked on the opposite end of the turn out.
I must have been there about an hour, enjoying the warm breeze, surrounded by natural fireworks. The weirdest part of all of it was the odd silence: I could hear a low rumble only if I listened very hard. Otherwise all I could hear was the wind in the grass, the odd passing car, and the far-off howling of a pack of coyotes lending just enough thrill to make up for the lack of crackle and boom.
I wound up spending an hour there, and only left because I knew Michele would begin to worry that something had happened to me on the way home. It was an oddly calming experience, even as I made another half hearted challenge to the gods to strike me down where I stood, exposed on the side of a mountain, staring the storm square in the eye. I suppose it was little more than taunting a caged lion considering the storm never really seemed to get much closer, as if it were stuck somewhere over Los Altos. Perhaps further... penguin_goddess apparently got a serious pummeling, enough that she wanted to crawl under the covers and hide. It was best I didn't know that, as I would have been sorely tempted to chase it down.