The Adventures of Helen and Daniel
Chapter 1 – A Long Drive
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, not really, but Helen wished it were. It was a warm, early-March, L.A. night.
The weather in Los Angeles is almost always sunny, but Helen missed the big thunderstorms of AZ, her home state.
As Helen loaded fresh batteries in her GPSr, she heard the familiar chirp of iChat. She clicked to see a handsome, smiling face.
Daniel. “Boyfriend”. Their friendship had only recently deepened to the beginnings of a relationship, and it all felt blessedly right.
Daniel gave his head a good scratching with both hands. “When are you taking off in the morning?” Helen, admiring his shoulders, “Huh?”
“You heard me!” Daniel sighed. Helen grinned. “I should be getting out of here by 8. Don’t forget your new Garmin.”
Daniel yawned. “See ya tomorrow night, babe.” “Til then, sweetie.” They clicked off, and Helen shut down her laptop.
iPhone – check, sleeping bag/tent – check, CDs for the road – check…. Helen was ready to head for their desert rendezvous.
She awoke ahead of schedule and was out of the door at 6:45. An evil JinthB breakfast, and I-10 lay before her.
Her first cache was an hour out of the city, and she made the quick LPC grab, hoping that she’d already gotten the jump on Daniel.
Firestick. OK, Daniel worked sometimes as an orchestral conductor, but his choice of geocaching handle made Helen giggle.
They were coming from different directions and meeting up at a friend’s house in Phoenix before setting off on their backpacking trip.
They each had picked 20 caches to find on the way, and the one who bagged the least had to buy drinks that night.
Helen cruised in to Quartzsite for a pair of regular-sized caches that had been found recently. First, a quick lunch.
Burger and a milkshake. Two more logbooks. The town was humming with traders at a swap meet.
Helen took a moment to check out some of the local turquoise jewelry. A deep voice startled her from behind.
“You’d look great in that.” Helen turned to see the tall, bearded speaker. He leaned in. “And nothing else.”
Helen blushed as he asked if she were in town for the big swap meet. She said she was just passing through, and noticed his odd accent.
“Too bad.” His eyes went where they shouldn’t and lingered. “if you change your mind, find me at the gem table. Name’s Wolf.”
Helen breathed a sigh of relief as the stranger strode out. She couldn’t quite say what, but there was something odd about his eyes.
Soon the open desert was flying by again to the tunes of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Only Rain and Insects were missing, she thought.
The road was mesmerizing. The periodic stops for each cache allowed for Helen to get out, feel the warmth of the sun, the total quiet between cars.
Helen sank in to the rhythm of the road as she sank in to the rhythm of the horn section, the backbeat of the drums.
As the urban sprawl of PHX came into focus ahead, the sun turned the clouds brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, in the rear view mirror.
Helen had been out of cel range for a couple of hours, but now she heard the rock’n’roll ringtone of an incoming text message.
–got a flat, no AAA out here for an hour so have those drinks without me, 4 DNFs anyway so I’m sure I owe ya–
She texted back: –megabummer dude & u do owe me. only 1dnf 4 me, send eta when you can xxoo– and wondered what to do with the evening.
The couple they were staying with were playing a schlocky pops concert with the symphony that night – not a preferred option for Helen.
Pammi! Ah… yes.. one of her best friends from college lived in Apache Junction just out of the city. Drinks with her would be… um.. .wild!
“UhhhYELLow!” answered the familiar drawling voice. “Pammi! It’s Helen!” “No way! Hell-N?” “Knock it off, Pambo!” Both laughed.
“What the frig? Where are ya? Still in LALA Land?” “I’m just west of Phoenix – supposed to meet my guy but he’s running late.”
“Men – can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.” “He had a flat tire, Pammi… and he’s an amazing guy.” “Sure sure – better let me check him out.”
“I can bring him by after our backpacking trip – but I was wondering if you’d be up for drinks or something tonight. We can catch up,”
Pammi snorted. “Oh, let me look at my BIZZZy social calendar… well hey… it’s blank! ” Helen took down an address. “See you in an hour!”