Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Happy Birthday Adventure

Needles, California, known for its scorching heat, parched landscape, and sun-baked dirt that’s more cracked than the surface of my mom’s famous brownies, was the scene of one of my most harrowing motorcycling experiences.

July 28, 1999, my birthday, I was headed home on Big Red from a cross-country solo ride to Women on Wheels® in Huntsville, Alabama and visiting east coast family and friends. I knew Flagstaff, Arizona, was home to the westernmost Cracker Barrel restaurant, and that would be my birthday lunch spot. 

Ominous black clouds dotted the darkening gray sky as I left the restaurant, and hopped on my bike for the day’s last leg of travel. On further thought, I dismounted, unlocked my trunk, and extracted my rain gear. Ms. Ruthie’s voice rang in my head, “Better to have and not need than to need and not have.” I figured I was going to NEED this rain gear.

After a short time on the road toward Needles, the rains came. And kept coming. Scanning the signs for the off-ramps, I knew that there were several Needles exits and they’d have fuel and lodging. I turned off to find a gas station just at the end of the off-ramp. The rain beat down, but I was relatively dry under the overhang at the pumps. I filled my tank and went inside the tiny office to pay.

On the way back to my bike, I saw the swirling waters rising in the gutters and flowing out into the streets. I decided to wait there in hopes the rain would slow. It wasn’t slowing. The water rose in the streets. I'd heard what could happen to motorcycles caught in flash floods, and I knew I'd better stay put. 

Now, the cars that rolled up to the pumps could no longer get fuel; the power had gone out. Soon, fifteen of us, travelers and townspeople, huddled inside the cramped station office, each telling his caught-in-the-flood story.

The attendant offered space for my bike in one of the auto bays, so I went around the building to take a look. Residue from oil spillage -- deadly stuff for a motorcyclist -- covered the cement floor so I thanked him and said I’d leave my bike at the pump for awhile longer.

In under twenty minutes, the rain stopped thundering down. On the side street that abutted the gas station, stood a huge sign for the Travelers’ Inn motel. The gutters and streets were still too high with water for me to chance riding, so I walked up the hill to the motel. “Any vacancy for tonight?” I asked the tall, slender desk clerk.

“Yep. We have rooms, ma’am, but the power has just gone out. Not sure when it’ll be back on.”

I maneuvered through my rain gear to find my wallet and credit card, filled out the registration papers, then went to my room to discard my saddle bag case. I hoofed it back down to the gas station, noticing the water in the streets was beginning to recede. In fact, the water had almost cleared the road I’d have to navigate. At the station, I thanked the attendant, then rode my bike up the hill and parked in front of my motel room door. That felt much better; a motorcyclist doesn’t like to be far away from her bike.

Since it was early afternoon and the power had only been off a short time, I thought there might be enough hot water for a shower. That was a stellar idea that paid off. Soon I was clean and dry and safe. 

Judy, in Oregon, waited for my usual call when I was off the bike for the day. “Hey, Happy Birthday, birthday girl,” she said.


“Well, it is my birthday. And, I am happy. But I'm stuck in a flash flood in Needles!”

“What a way to spend your birthday.”

“Yep, but I’m feeling lucky,” I said and told her the rest of the story.

Later that evening, I walked back down the hill to one of the few fast food restaurants that had power and ordered up my burger-and-fries birthday dinner to go. When I returned to the motel and threw open my door, I discovered the electricity had returned. A pleasant welcome to my home for the night -- and a happy birthday to boot.

How about sharing one of your memorable birthday stories?

~ xoA ~

(photos from the Internet)


  1. Hey, Annis! What a birthday adventure. Sounds like you were on pins in Needles. I am glad all worked out well. XOD

  2. I don't know if I have a birthday story that even compares to your adventure in Needles. Although when we went through there back in 2006 it was 121 degrees outside. I wanted to know what 121 felt like so we stopped in an empty parking lot. I could barely stand there as the soles of my feet felt like they were on fire. We hit the road again headed for Flagstaff for the night. In a few hours we arrived - it was 65 degrees. From blazing heat to cool, comfortable weather. Needless to say, Needles was not my favorite stop on the trip.

    1. Needles is, indeed, a "special" place. Sounds like it satisfied your curiosity. Thanks, Joan. xoA

  3. I can't believe I missed seeing your birthday on Facebook! Happy belated Birthday, dear Annis! I hope this birthday was just as all positive your 2004 adventure! I think my 50th birthday was one of my most memorable. That was the first birthday after my darling Rob came into my life, and spending that day with my parents and children...and with Rob holding my still vivid in my mind.

    1. Thanks, Joan. It was a great birthday. And, thanks for sharing your memorable birthday, too. xoA

  4. That sounds like an exciting....and stressful time...I love your comparison of the dirt and the brownies...had to smile!

    1. Thanks, Kathy ~ You know I'm all about some brownies when I see comparisons like this. xoA

  5. First of all, happy belated birthday! And that was a good story. Here's my harrowing birthday story: in 2007, my daughter Abby and I tagged along with my husband Mick to a conference in Tahoe at the Granlibakken (I think I spelled that right) resort. Mick is part of a group of scientists who get together every two years for an equine research conference and this one happened to fall over my August 18 birthday. So, there we all were. On my birthday, Abby and I headed into town and Mick headed to the conference sessions. Abby and I noticed a few hours later that there were a lot of sirens and there were planes in the sky and there was smoke. We went back up to the resort, wondering what was happening. Within the hour, we learned we were being evacuated because of a wildfire. The planes were dumping fire retardant but the resort was threatened. So, we packed up and headed to Sacramento, to a hotel with a vacancy and found cheap pizza for my birthday dinner. Call me happy to have a smoke-free birthday celebration.

    1. Kathleen, thanks for the birthday wishes; it's still my Birthday Season. Wow! What a perilous birthday and a great escape.

      One of my dearest friends in Bakersfield was also born on August 18.

      Thanks for writing and sharing your story. xoA