The First Trip in New Baleau- Autumn of 1981 A leave of Absence Leads to a Most Memorable Trip Part IV

I exited off I-17 at Van Buren Street, and “hooked a left”. Indeed, that was a play on words, as I discovered a few blocks later at a stop light. There, at high noon, a young “lady of the streets” appeared at an open window and began to proposition me. I immediately contracted lock-jaw. My silent prayer for a situation-relieving green light was quickly answered. I was still in a state of semi-shock as I cruised through the “old downtown”, which was a separate entity from the “new uptown”, about a mile and a half to the north. I spotted a couple of “ladies of the night” in broad daylight, strolling down Van Buren, as I pulled in to the ubiquitous Motel 6. I lounged around the pool and engaged myself in a conversation with a very pleasant couple from Long Beach. I was really glad to talk with some Golden State natives, and they certainly did their part in bestowing on me some good ol’ California boosterism. I mean, I was ready to drive right into the Pacific Ocean after talking with those folks! The trip seemed to be gathering some momentum. I felt like I was certain to sustain the pace, maybe, even kick it up one more gear.

After completing the four S’s (shave, shower, shampoo, and shine), I went downtown to “scope some Betty’s”. The preservation and elegance of the Adams Hilton was enough to lure me inside. The grand and graceful lobby was alive with travelers and conventioneers. My telescoping eyes zoomed in on two lovely “Betty’s” in business dresses. I waggled my jaw back and forth just to convince myself that the earlier “red-light affliction” has abated. I summoned my courage, and approached the two lovely lasses, and facetiously inquired, “What are two nice ladies like you doing in a place like this?” My originality overwhelmed them. Comfortable conversation with fine wine followed with Romaine from Fresno and Kathy from Reno. Then we decided to shake down the neighborhood for a suitable eatery. After a few square blocks of a walking inspection, we discovered a dearth of diners, as well as any other kind of open establishment.

Just as our search was getting pedestrian (excuse the double-entendre), a patrol car pulled up and stopped at the nearby curb. The two officers approached us, and (after we explained our futile footwork) politely exhorted that it would behoove us to return to the safety of the hotel from whence we came. One of the officers was of Hispanic origin, and he knew full well that some of his soul brothers could be lurking around any corner, with devious deeds in their heads. We thanked them for their professional advice, and did some fancy feet-flapping back to the sanctuary of the Hilton.

We had a pleasant repast of soups and sandwiches, and I gave an appreciative grace to the Good Man Upstairs for allowing me to have slices of salami in my stomach, rather than slivers of steel in my side. I bade farewell to my lady friends, but not before “warning” them that I just might turn up on their doorsteps in the near future. In the parlance of journeymen, “You never know….!” In the back of my mind, I was fairly sure that I wasn’t going to be anywhere near Fresno (home of the dullest airport in the country), but, Reno…maybe. I did have a fun time.

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