World Tea Expo is the highlight of my professional year. It's an opportunity for me to bask in tea education, share tea tales with my pals, sip and sample my way through hundreds of teas, and discover new tea gadgets and trends. This year, the Expo was held May 6th-8th in Long Beach, CA. I was asked to be a panelist at the Tea Bloggers Roundtable, I was to sit in on the US League of Tea Growers meet-up, I had my schedule for 2 days of tea education, and my notes on growers and blenders that I needed to meet with. My plan was to drive out the afternoon of May 6th and I was ready to leave the bright lights of Las Vegas and make my trek to Long Beach and the tea glory that awaited me.
If you've never made the drive from Las Vegas to, anywhere really, then let me give you an idea of what it looks like. See that picture to the right? It's flat and uneventful. It's the type of drive where you set the cruise control, turn up the iPod, and just coast. I'm 90 minutes into my drive when the car in front of me hits a scrap piece of blown tire into my lane. I can't swerve or I'll hit the car next to me. So, I have no choice but to run over it. It made a lovely sound as it hit the underside of my car, and about 5 seconds after, my car started rattling and making a horrendous noise. A few miles down, I pulled off I-15 to check out the damage. I took the Halloran Summit exit. There is nothing, and I repeat NO THING, on this exit. There is simply an on-ramp back onto the freeway. I take a gander at the under carriage and nothing is dripping. However, my scratch plate is dangling precariously. To a seasoned mechanic, or car enthusiast, this might seem like nothing. A quick fix. To me, this is equivalent to a cracked head gasket. I know equally as much about both - which means "nada". I get on the phone with my husband, who thankfully, is a car whiz. I explain what happened, he asks some questions, and it's determined that I just need to remove the scratch plate. You know, just remove it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I try using my keys, but they are just a smidge too wide. What I really need is a flathead screwdriver, or equivalent. I check my center console and glove box. I have a restaurants worth of napkins, nail polish, car registration and insurance cards, an old GPS, about $.86 in spare change, earbuds, a package of Big Red, and a map of San Diego. Chances of survival = not good. Then I recall that I have a pair of tweezers in my bathroom bag! YES! I grab those and go to work. You know how sometimes things have to get worse before they get better? Picture me on all fours, balancing carefully on a floor mat I have removed from the car so that I don't cut my knees on the desert rock and broken glass my car is parked on. I'm hunkered under the car with a pair of tweezers trying to remove these plastic clips holding that plate prisoner, and all of a sudden I hear, "Caw caw. Caw caw." I glance up and there are 3 buzzards circling me and the car. I know, that they know, that I'm not a car fixing type. Did I mention it was dusk? And that my low battery indicator on my phone was starting to chirp at me? And that I am in the middle of NOWHERE.
I was not going to make my husband explain to my children that they were now motherless because some plastic clips and buzzards got the best of her. Those clips didn't stand a chance between me and those tweezers. I got the plate removed, all of the pieces loaded into my car, and all with very little damage. My hands were filthy and I had a small scrape, but I did it, dammit! With nothing but a pair of freaking tweezers! I am woman, hear me roar! I hopped back in the car and made haste to Baker, CA. I won't even bother describing Baker. I pulled into a fast food place, took pictures of my hands and posted to social media (because I fixed my freaking car with a freaking pair of tweezers), washed my hands, grabbed a bite to eat, and hit the road. I was flying high! Nothing could keep me from the tea that was awaiting me in Long Beach. About 15 minutes outside of Baker, I hit the biggest dust storm I've had to drive in, ever. "You've got to be kidding me," I yelled as I shook my fist. Thankfully, the storm was only a few miles wide and I was back to cruising speed in no time. I made it to Long Beach well past my intended arrival time and walked into the House of Tealet where I was greeted with a cup of tea and hugs from my pals who were readying the troops for my desert rescue. So, thank you to my would be rescuers: Elyse, Michael, and Rie, Jason and Timmy, Phil, Rajiv, Nicole, Nicole, Natasha, Chris, Rachel, Katrina, Jo, and Geoff. My two days at World Tea Expo were informative and tasty and I was sad to leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday to head back to Vegas. But I made sure those tweezers were in the cup holder, right next to George Michael, my new tea plant, and my Smores Frappe. Thank goodness that next years Expo is in Las Vegas!