Authors: Deanna Lynn Sletten
Maggie smiled. She couldn't help it. Bobbi sounded so excited about going. "That's fine. I can meet you at the door to the parking garage at noon."
Bobbi waved and left with her big bag slung over her shoulder. Maggie thought she might be in for an interesting day.
Maggie decided not to drive around in the busy traffic while she waited for Bobbi. Instead, she walked around downtown Reno and snapped a few pictures. There was plenty to see and photograph. The sidewalks weren't too busy this early in the day. After all, this was a town built on night people, not day tourists. This allowed Maggie to wander and stop whenever she wanted to take a photo.
Maggie walked down to the famous Reno welcome arch and shot a few photos. On the way back tonight, she planned on snapping a few photos of the arch colorfully lit up. She then walked across the street and took shots of the new CommRow building where the historic Fitzgerald's Casino used to be. There was a one hundred sixty-four foot climbing wall, the tallest in the country, on the outside of the building, and she marveled at the people who were brave enough to climb that high above the streets of Reno.
Downtown Reno was definitely not as colorful or exciting by day as it was at night, but Maggie managed to take a few great shots of the city and the interesting people walking around. Tonight, from her hotel room window, she was sure she could get a few great shots of the city lit up in all its glorious colors.
As promised, Bobbi was ready and waiting for Maggie at the appointed time by the door leading out to the parking garage. Bobbi had changed from her hot pink top to a yellow T-shirt and now wore jeans and sneakers. She'd traded in her large bag for a smaller fabric one and had a pair of sunglasses sitting on top of her thick, brown hair, and a thick sweater slung over her arm.
"Ready to go?" Bobbi asked excitedly.
The two found Maggie's minivan. Soon, they were out of the Reno traffic, heading south on Highway 395 toward the curvy 431 to Incline Village. From there, they would drive down Highway 50 along Lake Tahoe toward South Lake Tahoe.
They couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to drive the curving, tree-studded road along Lake Tahoe's shore. The view was crystal clear, and the mountains in the distance, capped in snow, were spectacular. The traffic wasn't too heavy, so Maggie was able to turn off at roadside stops every now and then to take pictures of the lush scenery that lay before her.
As the pair rode along, they talked endlessly about their lives, the best vacations they had ever taken, and the most beautiful scenery they'd ever seen. Both agreed that there weren't many places in the U.S. that could top the beauty they were enjoying today.
"Do you know what we really need?" Bobbi asked at one of the stops along the highway. "A convertible. Wouldn't it be amazing to drive along this highway, in this gorgeous weather, in a convertible sports car?"
Maggie agreed. With the warm sun on their backs and the sparkle of the lake below, riding along in a convertible sports car would've been perfect.
They turned into Lake Tahoe State Park at Sand Harbor, paid the fee, and parked in the tree-lined parking lot. From there, they walked down to the natural harbor, an inlet of water just off of the larger body of water, where pine trees lined the shore and large boulders jutted out of pristine, crystal clear water.
The air was fresh and crisp coming off the lake, and both women were happy to have brought heavy sweaters with them. They walked first to an area where there were large boulders jutting out of the water along the shoreline. The boulders were bleached white from the sun, which made a sharp contrast against the clear, blue-green water of the lake. The wind was just a whisper, and the huge body of water sat quiet, its changing colors looking like a coastline in the Caribbean. Maggie and Bobbi both just stood a moment in awe of the beauty of the lake, the shoreline of pines, and the snowcapped mountains in the distance. It was a spectacular view.
Maggie began snapping photos of the picturesque scenery. The beach was empty of tourists since the summer season was over, and this allowed her to take breathtaking photos of unmarred shoreline.
Bobbi walked close to the water and climbed one boulder, then made her way from boulder to boulder over the rocky shore. Once, when she almost fell into the icy-cold water, Maggie laughed out loud, which made Bobbi giggle. Tired from her trek over the large rocks, Bobbi sat down on one large boulder that sat far out into the water.
"Pose," Maggie called out to her and turned her camera onto Bobbi.
Bobbi smiled, then lifted her knees up, put one hand behind her head, and pursed her lips into a kissing pout, pin-up girl style. Maggie laughed and took her picture, plus several more as Bobbi posed differently in each. With her bright lipstick, voluptuous figure, and mane of shiny hair, plus the blue water and the mountains as her backdrop, Bobbi actually did look like an old-time movie star glamming it up for the camera.
After a time, they walked along the shore over to the strip of beach and strode in the sand to the other point of the inlet. Tired at last, they sat on a boulder on the point and enjoyed the view.
"You're going to love those pictures I took of you," Maggie said. "The scenery is amazing."
Bobbi giggled. "I bet I looked silly, but I don't care. It's so beautiful here. This is nothing like a southern California beach. It's so clean, and the water is so clear."
Maggie agreed. Although, Lake Tahoe wasn't the ocean, but it was so large that it reminded her of it. "I used to come here with my husband when we were in college. It was so much fun to sneak away for a weekend and go away on adventures. It's exactly as it was then, beautiful."
"Why isn't your family here with you, Maggie?" Bobbi asked. "I mean, if you don't mind me asking."
Maggie sighed. She figured it looked strange, her running around the country alone when she had a family at home. "I don't mind. I sort of ran away from home."
Bobbi's brown eyes grew wide. "Ran away? Really? Why?"
"It's kind of hard to explain. I hadn't planned on leaving. It just happened. Our marriage has had problems over the past few months, and I've had other family tragedies that added to the stress. I think I sort of lost it."
"Wow," Bobbi said, surprise registered on her face. "You just look like you have it all together. I guess even the best of us crack up now and again."
Maggie frowned at this, which only made Bobbi laugh out loud.
"I don't mean you're crazy or anything. It's just we all need to let off some steam once in a while, and maybe that's what happened to you. You just had to let go."
Maggie thought this over a moment as she stared at the mountains in the distance. Maybe Bobbi was right. Maybe she had been holding in her feelings for so long, she finally just had to let them go.
"I know exactly what you need," Bobbi said, her eyes lighting up. "Tomorrow, we're going shopping, and tomorrow night, we're going to get you all dolled up. You're going to attend the banquet with me. We'll get some snazzy dresses, do up your hair and makeup, and you'll feel like a million bucks."
"Oh, I don't know," Maggie said. "I'm not really looking to go out and party like a kid."
Bobbi chuckled. "Don't worry. You won't be. You'll be in a room of mainly women hairdressers and makeup artists. You can be my plus one. Come on. It'll be fun."
Maggie wasn't sure about it, but since she was going to be here, she decided she might as well go.
Maggie and Bobbi walked back to the van and headed further down Highway 28 then turned onto Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe. They stopped several more times by the side of the road to take pictures of the lake. Soon, they crossed over the California state line as they entered South Lake Tahoe. As they drove down the street, trying to decide where they should stop and eat, Bobbi suddenly pointed and said excitedly, "Take a left, over there. Pull in over there."
Startled, Maggie checked for oncoming traffic, then turned left into the parking lot that Bobbi had indicated. Once there, Maggie realized it wasn't a parking lot after all. It was a car dealership.
"Drive up ahead," Bobbi said, practically jumping up and down in her seat. "Look. Right there."
Maggie pulled ahead and finally saw what Bobbi was pointing at. Two Mustang convertibles sat, side by side. One was royal blue with a black top and the other was cherry red, its black top down.
"Why in the world did you have us stop here?" Maggie asked, turning toward Bobbi. But Bobbi was already opening her door and heading outside to stand beside the two convertibles.
"Aren't they beautiful?" Bobbi asked, as Maggie stepped out of the van. "Can't you just imagine yourself driving the curvy, Lake Tahoe road in one of these? I vote for the red one."
Maggie shook her head, then smiled. Bobbi was as excited as a little kid with a new toy. "Yes, they're very pretty. But I don't need a new car today."
"Can I help you ladies?" A tall, slender, middle-aged man wearing dress slacks and a sport coat walked up to Maggie, his hand extended. "I'm Jerry. What can I do for you today?"
Reluctantly, Maggie shook Jerry's hand. The last thing she wanted to do was talk to a salesman, especially since she wasn't serious about buying a car. "We're just looking," she said. No sooner had the words left her mouth than Bobbi piped up.
"She's interested in this red Mustang. Any chance we can take it for a test drive?"
Maggie looked at Bobbi, frowning and shaking her head. "No, I'm not really interested," she began to say, but Jerry interrupted her.
"Sure. A test drive would be fine. You have good taste. I'll go get the key." He smiled big at Maggie, then hurried away to the office.
"What are you doing?" Maggie asked. "I don't want to buy a car, especially a sports car."
Bobbi walked over to Maggie. "You don't have to buy it," she said, laughing. "We're just going for a little ride in it. It'll be fun."
"We're wasting this man's time."
Bobbi brushed her hand through the air. "Oh, he won't mind. Besides, I think he likes you. I saw him give you the once-over. If you decide to buy it, he may give you a great deal."
Maggie rolled her eyes. "He gave me the once-over to make sure I wasn't some insane person who'd drive off and not come back. Come on. Let's get out of here before he comes back."
It was already too late. Jerry was headed toward them, a set of keys in his hand. He handed them to Maggie. "All I need is to see your driver's license a minute. While I'm writing down the number, you can pull your van out of the way, over by the office."
Maggie sighed. She didn't want to argue in front of the salesman, so she did as he said.
Jerry handed back her license. "Here you go." He walked over to the red Mustang and opened the driver's side door for Maggie. "You picked a beauty. You do know how to drive stick shift, I hope."
Maggie walked over to the car and looked inside. The bucket seat did look inviting. And a stick shift? She thought back to the very first car she'd bought when she was seventeen. It was a late 1970s model sports car, beat-up but fast, and fun to drive. How she'd loved that car.
"Oh yes, I know how to drive a stick," she told Jerry, who smiled in return. As she climbed into the small car, Maggie felt twenty-five years younger.
Maggie and Bobbi were sailing up the Lake Tahoe road once again, with the wind in their face. The Mustang hugged the curves in the road beautifully, and both Maggie and Bobbi laughed with delight at each turn on the road. It felt delicious and decadent, driving along the scenic road in a gorgeous sports car.
"See, I told you this would be fun," Bobbi said, smiling over at Maggie. She turned the radio on and blasted it so they could hear the music above the rumble of the engine and the wind in their ears.
Maggie gasped when she recognized the song, "Hollywood Nights" as one from Bob Seger's Greatest Hits album. Well, she thought, it shouldn't have surprised her that Bob would be on the radio at this exact moment in time. First, Bob the teacher in Deadwood, then Bobbi the hairdresser. Now, Bob on the radio. It was a running theme in this entire crazy trip.
Eventually, Maggie turned the car around and headed back, even though she didn't want to any more than Bobbi did. As they pulled into the car lot, Bobbi looked over at her and winked.
"Think you might buy yourself a car?"
Maggie laughed. "You're crazy. I can't buy this. But you were right. It was fun."
Jerry was there to greet them as they stepped out of the Mustang. Maggie handed over the keys. "So, did you have a great ride?" he asked.
Maggie nodded. "It's a fun car. Thanks for letting us give it a try."
"Is that your van, or is it a rental?"
Maggie looked over at her brand new van. She'd just bought it a few months ago when her old one was on its last leg. At the time, she'd thought of getting a car instead. Now that the kids were older, she didn't need so much room. But Andrew had told her to buy another van. He said they might want it for family vacations. So, she just bought another van, even though she hadn't really wanted one.
"It's my van," Maggie replied.
"It looks new. Is it this year's model?"
Maggie nodded. "I just bought it this past spring."
"Well, it's your lucky day," Jerry said, grinning. "I can give you a great deal on the Mustang if you want to trade in the van."
"Oh, I don't think so," Maggie said. She'd seen the price on the Mustang, and she knew the van was worth a little more. "Besides, I'm not from California. I live in Minnesota."
"That's not a problem, as long as you have the title, and it's in your name. We can take care of everything online or over the phone, however you like. I'm assuming you have a loan on the van."
"Well, yes. It's through my bank."
Jerry smiled wide. "That's even better. You can switch your loan up and be off. It you're interested, I can hold the car for you over the weekend, and we can do the paperwork on Monday."