My refurbished orthotics finally came in this week so I had to make the long trek into town to pick them up. After doing that and a couple of other errands, it was time for the long drive back home. As I was going north towards the mountains, the radio station I was listening to reported that a major dust storm was moving into Tucson from the south. I looked in the rearview mirror and sure enough, there was a brown wall engulfing everything a ways south. Plenty of time to get home, I thought, despite the notice on the radio that it was moving northwards.
I was still fine by the time I turned parallel to the storm but it, sadly, was moving faster than me. There was no way that I was going to outrun it and be able to get home safely.* I made it to a shopping center and pulled in, planning to just hang out in the stores for the duration. It gave me a good excuse to have a sushi roll and some cucumber sunomono salad at the grocery store's sushi bar, enjoyable especially since I'd skipped lunch.
*For those of you unfamiliar with the dust storms that can hit the Desert Southwest, trust me when I say you don't want to try to drive through one. These "haboobs" bring in so much dust in the windy conditions that visibility can drop to zero. Several storms last year in the Phoenix area caused many accidents. You can see videos of the wall of dust on YouTube by searching on Phoenix or Arizona and haboob or dust storm. I found one for you that shows a storm engulfing a mountain range in six minutes. Here's a sped-up version condensing it to 1 minute. (Check out some of the other videos listed on the right.)
If you get caught in a dust storm, the recommended action is to pull off the road and turn all of your lights OFF. Yes, I know your instinct is to turn them all on so your car will be visible, but the experts say that doing so will make other drivers think your car is in motion and they will plow right into you. I am glad today that I had the option to get entirely away from the roads. If you see a storm approaching, try to get out of the way and wait it out. Luckily I was not driving on the freeway between Tucson and Phoenix. Dust storms are frequent there during high winds and there aren't too many nice places to pull off and sit it out in comfort.
If you want to learn more about dust, there's a fascinating book called "The Secret Life of Dust" that will give you far more respect for the pesky particles.