**** )))) SPECIAL REPORT (((( ****


OMG!  I’m starting this post late.  Only 4 days until it’s my turn to throw something at the NWR audience!  And to make things worse, I just awoke from a nap.  Hell.  You’d think I was a decrepit old lady or something.

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California, where it’s considered normal to have bars on your home.

I’m NOT decrepit.   If I were, would I have been able to walk at this speed up the hills around Desert Hot Springs, California 3 weeks ago wearing my polka-dot Keds?


Walking up an arid hill in between the hurricane force winds.

And no…I’m not going to ask if you think I have Dementia.  Being not-quite-right isn’t the same thing.

Why, you might ask, was I visiting a city just outside Palm Springs if it wasn’t for fun and sun?

You’re aware I wrote a book (or not).  Here’s a picture my daughter took while flying home on a plane to prove she’s actually reading it.


Well, I was in Desert Hot Springs visiting my sister who taught Effective Business and Technical Writing for over 30 years.  She’s helping me create a cover for book #2, and she’s helping with sequencing.

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A view of Desert Hot Springs from my sister’s Kitchen/Dining/Living room.

What the hell, you might ask, is sequencing? 

Coming up with the story is easy for me.  Editing is impossible, I leave the editing to people who enjoy looking up things like “How to use parenthesis parentheses.”  That’s about as interesting as watching vultures eat roadkill.

But, alas, I digress.  Getting each chapter in the right sequence is like trying to put feathers into a wire basket inside a wind tunnel.  It might be easier if I tried eating roadkill with the vultures.

We did some fun stuff, too.  

The dog walked me almost every day


We enjoyed the hot springs once,  then we went to  Joshua Tree National forest (see below to truly understand what “forest” means in that part of California).

FB at Joshuatree

If you squint, you can see me pointing at the sunset.

We walked in the canyon a few miles from my sister’s home

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Her T-shirt says, “In dog years, I’m dead.” She’s using a collapsable bowl to ensure her 1000 pound puppy stays hydrated.

And we went to Big Bear where–for the first time in ages–I had to pee so badly that I was afraid I’d have to pay to have my sister’s back seat cleaned.  Did you know that convenience stores in Big Bear won’t allow you to use their bathrooms?  And yes, I did consider using their floor, but what good would it do to get arrested?

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Taken somewhere near Big Bear Lake. I think. It was either before or after the dog knocked me over.

We finally found a port-a-potty near the lake,  where I learned that when I have a gallon of pee inside my body the muscles in my legs have barely enough strength to balance over the rim (yes, I do lift the lid when I do that). The lid, unfortunately, was well-watered by someone who didn’t think it necessary to lift.

For your visual pleasure, here are a few pictures

(No, not of me using the port-a-potty.  Pervert!).  You’ll need this to calm you when I start talking about planes.

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The sun as it rises above the hilltops and the temperature goes up 30 degrees. Did I mention you need a coat at night in the desert?


Desert moon

Moon in June at sunrise

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Moon in June around 4am as seen from my sister’s kitchen window

When I arrived home, I felt more not-quite-right than usual after the 1 hour drive to the airport, 9 hours on planes, and the 1 1/2 hour drive home.  

I was so happy to get away from all those coughing, germ-ridden, filthy people and back to the giant dog house.


There’s nothing like being back home with your family.

A week later, I was down for the count, KO’d by an upper respiratory infection and laryngitis.   So I started looking up all the reasons why one might get sick when traveling.   Could it be the tropical storm force winds as I walked in the desert?  Or perhaps I picked up something when I came back home?  No.  It had to be obtained on a plane. 

To be specific; the flight back home.

The airplane lavatory, a facility the size of a broom closet in an efficiency apartment might be a possibility.  Few people clean up their mess when they leave.  Kids think it’s fun to use the weird faucet, people don’t wash their hands and, IN A NUTSHELL, an airplane bathroom is a hazardous waste zone when most people are through with it.

Then there are the people who think the bathroom is their private place to comb hair, apply makeup, shave and do the T&A quick rinse.  Inconsiderate bastards.  It’s better not to wait until you have to fight 2 men and 3 women to get there first just so your clothes don’t become a giant diaper.  

That’s why I tend to start toward the lavatory prior to being so desperate I’m willing to sit on the lid before checking it.

Did you know that it’s possible to break the airplane toilet?  It happens when people try to stuff  too much into it.  There might be 3 lavatories for 150 people.  Can you imagine living in a house with 50 people and 1 toilet?  When one is out of commission on a plane, it means there’s only 1 per 75.  Flight attendants serve lots of fluids, regardless of the fact that men can’t just step outside and water a tree in an emergency.  Although there were a few I wish had tried, starting with the guy who saw 3 old ladies in the front seats and said, “This must be the Medicare section.”

If my bladder isn’t blaring out “red alert,”  “red alert,” I try to be extra careful in an airplane lavatory,  always placing TP on the seats.  This serves 2 purposes:

  1. To provide a space between me and the 2000 butts that preceded mine since the last time the plane was cleaned and
  2. Because it’s the best way for me to tell if an inconsiderate bastard was the last one to use the toilet.

My last experience with point number 2 was on the flight from California to Florida. The man who came out of the lavatory just before I used it must’ve been the same  guy who used the port-a-potty in Big Bear. There was so much pee on the lid that it soaked the TP.  I had to use soap on a paper towel to clean off the lid and apply more TP to the rim before sitting on it.  Fortunately, the toilet didn’t clog.

Here’s a bit of advice that’s from someone other than me:


IN A NUTSHELL:  Don’t lick the lavatory seats.

  1. Many people get sick after flying.
  2. Experienced  passengers bring disinfectant wipes. They wipe down the tray table, headrest and arm rests before putting on a face mask to avoid the germs in the air.
  3. Although it’s still good to sanitize your area, the recirculated air is constantly replaced by fresh air from the outside.  It’s pressurized, heated and sent through HEPA filters. (However, that doesn’t stop the guy next to you from sneezing in your face.  Ergo the face mask).
  4. A microbiologist who looks at diseases spread in places like bathrooms and airplanes (who simply reiterated what my mother used to tell me long before we could afford to fly on a plane) says the reason people get sick on planes is the same reason people get sick anywhere they’re packed together like tamales in a can. There’s always going to be someone with  something to share that no one wants (to hear, see, or catch).
  5. Avoid the aisle (of course, that was where I was sitting for all but 1 of the flights) The aisle seats are the most likely to come  into contact with everyone’s crap.
  6. And…as we discussed earlier…the eye of this contamination hurricane is the toilet.
  7. In fact, the EPA cited airlines for having fecal bacteria in the water supply.  There are higher levels of E. coli on lavatory surfaces than other public bathrooms, especially the sinks, so try to use hand sanitizer instead of the sink.
  8. Not only your tray table, but the airline pillows, and seat back pocket are notorious germ collectors, too. During an investigation, these tested positive for MRSA more often than other places.


If you don’t want to get sick, end up with laryngitis, and have  every one of your family members calling you to laugh at your bass voice as you labor to rasp out one word after another, take disinfectant wipes along with hand sanitize and a filter mask on the plane with you.  Then clean the hell out of every surface before you come in contact with it.

The humor others may find in this beats coughing your guts out, going through 2 boxes of tissues a bottle of Nyquil and a bag of throat lozenges for the next 2 weeks.

And that’s the plane truth.