Webb's Blog

Read the first chapter of THE PUFFIN OF DEATH at


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Writer Abandoned at Truck Stop

I almost decided to title this, “Why No Two Book Tours Are Alike,” but in journalism, they teach us to title like we write -- short and to the point.

On Sunday, December 6, it looked like the California leg of my DESERT LOST book tour would go well. As hubby and I pulled out of Scottsdale and headed for San Diego, the temperature was mild and the sun was shining. Everything was so perfect that I crawled into the back seat and dozed while Hubby drove.

Somewhere in the Arizona desert between Casa Grande and Yuma, Hubby decided to gas up and use the restroom at a Love’s truck stop. When he exited the car, he asked if I needed to use the facilities, but I was groggy and just said no. As soon as he disappeared into Love’s, however, I rethought the situation (all those empty, sand-blasted miles stretching ahead), so I hopped out of the car and made my way to the Lady’s Room.

When I exited, no Hubby. After searching the truck stop from gas pump to storage room, I asked a friendly-looking trucker to double-check the Men’s room, but Hubby wasn’t in there. At that point, I thought it might be a good idea to stop looking for Hubby and start looking for our car, a green Isuzu SUV. But that, too, had disappeared.

No Hubby, no car.

Being well-trained in crime detection, I was able to figure out the following: Hubby, thinking I was still asleep in the Isuzu’s back seat, had simply continued on to California without me. I fumed for a while, then decided to alert the authorities. I reached for my trusty cell phone and discovered -- no phone. Like a ninny, I’d left my handbag in the car. No phone, no money, no credit cards, no nuthin’. Fortunately (for me, anyway) a Highway Patrol car pulled into the truck stop to ticket some poor wretch caught speeding down I-8, so once Mr. Trooper had written out the citation, I told Mr. Trooper my tale of woe.

“Oh, don’t worry, Ma’am,” Mr. Trooper said, “We see this sort of thing all the time. Um, by the way, did you two have an argument?”

He asked for my car’s license number, but I couldn’t remember it (could you?). I did remember, however, that it was an Isuzu and was green, with a Boston Marathon sticker on the back (due to my son, not me). After Mr. Trooper put out a APB on careless Hubby, he advised me to stay where I was. “Don’t want to go wandering off into the desert, do we, Ma’am?”

No, we didn’t.

An hour and a half later, Hubby showed up. He’d managed to make it 70 miles down the road before he got lonesome and tried to have a conversation with me. Noticing that I seemed unusually quiet, he’d taken a quick look over his shoulder, and discovered that I wasn’t there. Hubby isn’t prone to panic, but he did admit to me later that he’d had a few bad moments before he caught sight of a Highway Patrol car on the side of the road, and a trooper writing the usual speeding ticket (Warning to those about to travel on I-8 between Yuma and Casa Grande. Don’t speed. You WILL get caught). When Hubby approached him, Mr. Trooper 2 said, “Oh, yes, we’ve been
looking for you for more than an hour. Better go back for your wife before she gets madder than she already is. And be prepared to duck.”

Not being an idiot, Hubby followed instructions.

That was Day One of my book tour. On Day Two, the Storm to End All Storms rolled into
Southern California, and considerably dampened the turnout at Mysterious Galaxy. The storm continued all the way to Anaheim, where I had my second signing at the Canyon Hills Library, a favorite of mine (they love the Lena Jones books there, and enjoy discussing polygamy). Day Three dawned nicely, so the signings at Mystery Bookstore, in Westwood, and Book ‘Em, in South Pasadena went well. Day Four started off just as well, and we had a nice visit at Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks...

Then Hubby got hungry.

We stopped at a small fish restaurant, which for legal reasons I won’t name, and Hubby ordered shrimp. Quite a bit of shrimp, in fact. Since I’d been stuffing myself on Oreos in the back seat for a while, I declined, and settled for some Diet Coke. With our early dinner finished, we headed back towards San Diego & the California/Arizona state line so that we’d arrive in Tucson in plenty of time to visit the zoo (Anteaters!), and then show up at Clues Unlimited for my Saturday
signing with Elizabeth Gunn (“Cool In Tucson” and others). However, just as we reached Encinitas, Hubby turned green. Kind of a chartreuse, actually, not a color I’ve ever cared for.

So we stopped at a seaside motel, where Hubby took up semi-permanent residence in the tiny bathroom and I gamboled on the beach. By next morning, he had lost considerable weight, while I had amassed a nice collection of sea shells and pretty rocks. As I started to pack up again, he informed me that, no, leaving the immediate vicinity of a bathroom wasn’t a good idea, and I’d better tell the people at the front desk that we were staying another night. So I did. I also called Chris at Clues
Unlimited and told her what was happening.

The next day I collected more seashells and more pretty rocks, and made friends with a golden retriever and a Heinz 57-something. While strolling along the main drag, I also discovered that Encinitas has lovely restaurants, several therapeutic massage parlors (no, not THAT kind, get your mind out of the gutter!), and a nice yoga studio that also sold incense and relaxation CDs. I bought a relaxation CD (bells, flutes, etc.), then drove off to Target for a portable CD to play it on. After a lovely Italian meal at the restaurant down the street, I stretched myself out on the motel bed and practiced relaxing while Hubby continued to savor the delights of the motel bathroom.

Now it's Sunday and we’re back in beautiful downtown Scottsdale. Hubby isn’t quite as green as yesterday, but he’s not exactly lively, either. Me, I’m feeling fine. And my new relaxation tape works beautifully.

One more thing. My new website is up. It’s at www.bettywebb-mystery.com


Patty said...

No wonder your books sell so well! You can really tell a tale. I love that you walked the beach and bought relaxation CD's while waiting out your husband's, ummm, illness.

Morgan Mandel said...

That is too funny, but also scary! I see a book about a deserted wife in your future.

My DH likes to walk ahead of me a lot at stores, since he's on a mission to get certain items and I like to browse. Sometimes we get separated in the shopping process. That's nothing as bad as you experienced.

Morgan Mandel

Rachel Andersen said...

Wow! What a trip.

I have talked to people that left family members behind. Next time better leave a note.

It will all be good fodder for the writing mill.


evepaludan said...

Wow, that was an adventure.

Morals of story:
1. Do a head count of all passengers before continuing on road trip.
2. Don't order shellfish in a restaurant in the desert. It isn't just caught.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Wow, what an experience. We left a kid behind once, but it didn't take that many miles to realize it.

Hope hubby is okay now.


Renaissance Women said...

Oh my! Now I know why I travel alone most of the time. Haven't lost myself yet, but have gotten lost.

On a more even note, what a 'novel' experience. Hope hubby is doing much better.

Thanks for the story. May your next tour be less eventful.

Mary E. Trimble said...

Oh, I can't believe what a chain of bad luck you had, Betty. But, you've made the best of it by sharing it with us in such great fashion. Good for you!

Alice Trego said...

Wow, Betty! What an eventful trip and a great story :) I can see thi happening in one of your next books, too.


Audra Krell said...

Loved this post! What an adventure you've had. I also really enjoyed your talk to the APW last year.

Kinor said...

I read this post and I'm really pleased. No matter if it's a serious book or just putting a blog entry, your writings are very fascinating, interesting and smile-making! Well done.

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Jack Witson said...
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