“This is the most terrifying experience I have ever had:
In 2001, my granddaughter, Cate, was offered a job in Portland, OR. Her own company, a dotcom in San Diego, CA had been caught in the dotcom crash and folded. One of her co-workers had moved to Portland a month or two before the company went belly-up and offered my granddaughter a job.
Cate invited me to accompany her, thinking we could take a leisurely trip up the coast in her new convertible. I accepted because I was going through a very bad time and thought it would be a terrific break to see new country. So, I flew to San Diego.
The Trouble Begins
I should have realized things would go badly when I lost my new book on the plane, mislaid a carry-on bag–which never was found–and got to San Diego right in the middle of El Nino! That wasn’t bad in itself as I have been in California during the rainy season, but the car literally seemed to fall to pieces as we tried to leave!
The repairs maxed out Cate’s credit card and one of mine, but we tried again, ignoring the fact that there were storms coming in almost steadily. We took off in high spirits, looking forward to each other’s company and the trip ahead. Of course it was raining, but the car was running smoothly, the highway was fine, and traffic was moving very well. Then an enormous SUV went by, throwing up a wall of water. The next thing we knew, the car was hissing and hiccupping its way to the side of the road. Twice we got it started, but a little later it quit again, and no amount of coaxing would start it
At the repair shop, the mechanics tore the engine down to the block and rebuilt it. Cate then had a ‘revelation’ and suggested looking for water in the gas tank. After looking at her like she was an idiot, they did–and found the whole problem! We finally got to San Francisco by eleven, thinking we would stay with one of Cate’s friends.
Something’s Wrong in San Francisco
The Bay Bridge was beautiful, just beautiful. We drove along admiring it, but noticed a detour ahead. So we turned and almost immediately everything seemed different!
First, there was no traffic and no people. Yes, it had been raining, but even so, there should have been people and cars out. We saw nothing! In fact, there weren’t lights on in any of the stores. We couldn’t find a telephone and got a bit frightened because the street was so dark. There were no streetlights and no stores, bars, or restaurants were open! A world class city all dark? Why?
We drove on, too afraid to stop because we were worried we wouldn’t get the car started again. The street got darker and the absence of people and cars was, to say the least, disturbing. Not only that, we weren’t even sure we were on the right route. There were no signs pointing the way to the highway, nor were there any street signs. We were lost! The only thing we could think to do was to continue on our current course.
A car pulled up next to us at a traffic light and turned left, but its tail lights weren’t right. The car itself was a late-model Japanese make, I think, but the tail lights were those of a car much, much older! Then another car appeared, and the darned thing was from the 1930s! We were getting more confused and frightened by the minute. Still nothing at all was open, and only a self-serve Shell Station was lit up!
We finally found some street signs pointing the way, but all of them were PENCILED onto cardboard! No detour I have ever seen used that type of sign. Now we were getting very alarmed and began to worry about how much the toll would be to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
We were shocked when we finally reached the bridge. It was DARK! Even the toll booth was dark! The last time I knew the bridge to be dark was during World War II.
We started across the bridge, but neither of us was comfortable. I glanced at Cate and could see in the glow of the dash lights she was gripping the wheel so tightly her knuckles were white!
‘Something or someone is trying to make me drive through the side of the bridge,’ she said. “They’re trying to take the wheel, and it is to make me go back to the city! Someone wants me to go back! I don’t want to go, and I’m fighting with everything I have!’
That gave me more chills! I had been fighting a feeling of terrible doom, and the fact I could not see the water was also nerve wracking! It made me angry to see the lights on the Bay Bridge and all the houses, stores, and whatnot on the other side of the bay brightly lit. They all seemed to be so far away—so terribly far away!
We drove on for another hour before we had to stop for gas. We pulled into a gas station at Crescent City, and Cate had to actually pry her fingers from the wheel and had cramps from the tight grip. We gassed up, visited with the station attendant, and went on. No further trouble with the car, and we got to Portland fine.
But, an epilogue: After we reached Portland, and I returned to my home in Arizona and Cate talked to her friend in San Francisco. He inquired as to why we had not stopped in, and she told him about our experience.
‘That’s weird,’ he said. ‘There was a festival on that street, and the place was full of people! Cars, too!’
As for the Golden Gate being dark, he said ‘No way that thing was dark! It isn’t dark at any time!’
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