Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

An Unexpected Surprise

One would expect to travel from the St. Louis area to Phoenix in January for nicer weather, right? Last week I had visions of wearing shorts and sitting by the pool with a good book while heat warmed my sun-block-slathered legs. One day worked out just the way I’d hoped. The others, not so much. The air temperatures were chillier than they were back home.

Yet Mother Nature’s little joke didn’t faze me. I still had a wonderful time hanging out with my family. One of the highlights of the trip came when we abandoned a cold, windy, rainy day to attend the Barrett Jackson auction (a place where people come to shop for cars when they have more money than the United States Mint). While standing in the midst of a thick crowd, there were shouts of “Move to the side. Coming through”, pushing people apart in a similar fashion to Moses parting the Red Sea. But it wasn’t a fancy automobile coming through. It was someone I recognized at once.

Guess who?

Car aficionado Jay Leno had arrived to participate in a charity auction benefiting the George W. Bush Center Military Service Initiative, which helps transition veterans to civilian life. Mr. Leno had so many bodyguards and local Scottsdale police surrounding him, getting anywhere near was impossible. Thus the blurry and not so well-posed photo.

We decided it would be fun to watch the car (a 2018 Corvette Carbon Fiber 65 Edition – whatever that means) be auctioned, and muscled our way into the amphitheater along with about fifty billion other people.

The bidding started, but after only a couple of seconds, stopped. Jay Leno took the microphone and announced a guest who’d arrived to participate in the auction. Then he introduced former President George W. Bush, who gave a short speech about how the funds would benefit veterans. Mr. Bush then offered to play a round of golf in Texas with the bid winner. Both he and Jay Leno autographed the car, because who wouldn’t want to own an autographed car?

The mood swiftly became electric, with the crowd on their feet shouting and cheering while bid amounts grew higher and higher. After several minutes of watching the numbers climb, a gavel pounded. The car sold for 1.4 million dollars. A fun and fascinating experience.

Big bucks bonanza buy.

The moral to this story? Coming in out of a miserably cold rain can provide more than the obvious benefit. Something fun and unexpected can happen to change the day, and transform a mood.

On our drive from the auction area, the rain stopped and the clouds were starting to clear. The scenery inspired me to snap this shot of a lovely Scottsdale sunset from the car. No, I wasn’t driving.

Much prettier in person, I assure you.

The very next morning we were on a flight back to Missouri. There, we found bright warm sun and the cozy feeling that can only come from returning home.  My house! My bed! My dog and cat! (They were only slightly miffed about our absence.)

What about you? Has a getaway ever brought an unexpected surprise?


Check out the Easy Peasy Recipe tab for something new to help beat the winter blues. Warm and tasty Broccoli Cheese Soup.


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  1. A very cool story, indeed, Pat. That must have been all kinds of fun, and what a great cause!

  2. That’s a cool story. It sounds like a really fun day and a great cause!

  3. That is an expensive round of golf. Okay, so there’s a car in there, too. By the way, I didn’t think your photo was so bad! I knew immediately who it was in the photo! But that does suck about the weather. I am ready for spring.

    • Pat Wahler

      January 24, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      Margo, my iPhone (it’s a 6) is showing its age in every way, including photographic quality.

      Warmer weather would be nice, wouldn’t it?

  4. Linda O'Connell

    January 24, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    What an absolute thrill. So were you there FOR the auction? LOL
    I was at the airport once when they shouted, “Coming through.” It was Joan Rivers with her Yorkies. I actually thought it was a look-alike. Also saw Garth Brooks come through another airport with his entourage.

  5. Donna Volkenannt

    January 24, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    What a fun trip and a cool photo.
    In answering your question about an unexpected surprise on a getaway: I’m dating myself, but I ran into Liberace and his entourage in the St. Louis airport while heading for Hawaii to meet up with my husband while he was on R&R while serving in Vietnam.

    • Pat Wahler

      January 24, 2018 at 6:44 pm

      Liberace! Donna, that is very cool. Of course, it does give me an image of him dressed in one of his sparkly outfits while waving to everyone at the airport.

  6. Ha! I should be clear, I was not staying in the hotel WITH Usher. He and his peeps had an entire floor to themselves.

  7. I’d know that chin anywhere! I love when life takes an unexpected turn like that–in a good way, that is. 🙂

  8. This is a great story, Pat! It’s so much fun to see how the other half lives! I got to interview Jay Leno once at UM-St. Louis many years ago, I was the only reporter so we sat and talked for quite a while before his show.

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