Man, that was some dang hot weather last week.
While temperatures are (thankfully) relenting this week, enduring that sweltering stretch was no doubt a challenge for a lot of people in these parts.
It also spurred a few memories of hot times past. In chronological order, here are recaps of some sizzling events in my life.
•When I was a fifth-grader living in Anaheim, Calif., my parents took my older brother, Russ, and me on a vacation Las Vegas.
I don’t recall a lot of what took place on the trip, other than feeling like I could spontaneously combust at any moment due to the searing conditions in the eastern Mojave Desert.
But one thing I clearly remember is being downtown (on Fremont Street) late one night, and being amazed by how many people were still out and about. The hottest memory of the whole experience took place that night, when Russ and I looked up at a square-shaped board of neon lights on The Mint hotel that alternated between showing the time and the temperature. The time was straight up midnight and the temperature was 105.
But it’s a dry heat, right?
•When I was a student at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., everyone in the area was keenly aware of the way the weather in the high desert of the Palouse region could produce remarkable extremes during the spring and fall.
During my junior year in early April of 1980, there was an overnight snowfall of about eight inches. There’s certainly nothing very unusual about snow in April in the Palouse, and me and all the other students went to our morning classes dressed in wintry garb.
But again, we’re talking about the high desert here, and by 1 p.m. the temperature was 82 degrees and there was literally no sign of snow (yes, really). Of course, that meant we had to carry around winter jackets during afternoon classes and activities.
What a hassle.
•In late July of 1985, a good friend and I left our apartment in Kent, Wash., and drove across the Cascade Mountains to take in the annual unlimited hydroplane race on the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington (Richland, Kennewick and Pasco).
We stayed for three days, and played a round of golf on one of them. Now, it’s quite common for the temperature to reach into triple-digits in mid-summer in eastern Washington, and it was about 104 when we played.
But what made the round memorable was the combination of heat and wind. It was blowing steadily at about 45 miles per hour, with gusts much higher than that. I recall how we both had fun seeing how far we could lean forward without falling as we worked hard to move down a fairway into the wind.
And dang, there were several par 4s we had to take 5 shots just to reach the green, and I remember a par 5 where it took us 7 or 8 to reach the putting surface.
And when the wind was coming from the side, we had to aim approach shots about 40 yards right or left for the ball to have a chance to hit the green.
When we finished the round, we were much more exhausted than usual. That’ll happen when you battle strong wind for more than four hours in triple-digit conditions.
•When me, my wife and our two girls (ages 5 and 6) were moving from Washington to Georgia in the summer of 1998, we stayed for several weeks in San Diego to visit my mom and brother.
On our way east from there, we stopped at a rest area on Interstate 10 in Arizona, somewhere between Yuma and Tuscon.
The outside temperature shown on the van’s thermometer was 115. The girls thought that was pretty awesome, and they had fun just experiencing how super-heated air felt.
There was a sign posted at the back of the rest area that said, “Danger: Rattlesnake Area.” The girls were a bit less enthused about that.
•And then there were the summers of 2011 and 2012 here in Texas County, when my family lived in a remote farmhouse near Tyrone. Both of those summers were highlighted by long stretches of triple-digit temperatures, and a record number of consecutive days over 90.
There was a spring on our property from which clear, cold water ran into a small pond before joining a nearby creek. A local or two who had lived in the neighborhood a long time said, “You’re so lucky to have that spring; it’s never, ever gone dry – not even back in so-and-so when it was hotter and dryer than such-and-such.”
It dried up both years. We had to make sure to regularly give our horses buckets of water, since their normal source of hydration wasn’t available.
Those animals can drink a lot. Thankfully, our well never went dry (although the water turned cloudy a few times and we learned to wait a while for it to clear up).
Anyway, I’m sure most of you also have memories of a hot time or two in your lives, some of which are surely doozies.
Here’s to hoping that we residents of the Missouri Ozarks don’t have many more opportunities to create new heat-related memories during the remainder of this summer (or any more, for that matter).
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.