Had I arrived at this scene minutes earlier I would have seen this sudden deluge up close like an unfortunate few trucks that were overturned.
Over the stretch of what looked to be a solid mile of stopped cars, the word spread quickly to those of us at the back. "Flash flood —12-hour delay. Everyone will have to turn back."
By this time there were clusters of people that had gathered on the median and all of us, complete strangers, were thrown together by this unexpected turn of events.
"How are we going to get across this median with all of these huge rocks and high bushes?" one of us asked.
A group of us went up and down the median to find a place that would accommodate our cars, and once that was done, a caravan of vehicles made its way across the 20 feet or so that divided the cross traffic. I was reminded once again that people are often at their very best when they are provided an opportunity to help one another, even if they are perfect strangers.
But then it began to dawn on some of us that there were hundreds of people who suddenly needed a place to sleep for the night, and they were all headed back to the same little town, Lone Pine.
What started as an orderly retreat from our common predicament quickly turned into a mad dash back to that little town with the realization that there were too few motels to accommodate this sudden rush of lodgers. Being toward the end of the line of cars I was also that much closer to Lone Pine and managed to find one of the last rooms at a tiny motel off the main street.