A Helicopter, Robber and a Moonlight Swim

A number of years ago I had to attend a 3-day business conference in Phoenix for my employer. Since I’d never been to Arizona, my husband came along, we tacked on a few extra days, and made it into a vacation.

I fell in love with the Sedona area, ate rattlesnake and Indian fry bread, saw my first professional hoop dance, and came home with one very cool kachina doll. But my most vivid memory of Phoenix? You guessed it . . . a helicopter, robber, and a moonlight swim.

I can’t remember the name of our resort, but it was divided into groupings of two-story buildings with eight suites in each. The buildings were sprawled over acres of ground, each building with a private pool. Nice, right?

I thought so too until the helicopter showed up.

Late one night, hubby and I decided to take a dip in the pool (yes, we had our clothes on, thank God!). There we were, enjoying a moonlight swim when a helicopter nailed us in the beam of a high-intensity spotlight. I felt like a fugitive on America’s most wanted! Helicopter-1; romantic moonlight swim-0. Talk about killing the mood!

After it took off, we went back to our suite and my husband stepped onto the balcony to nose around. He saw a cop snooping below and asked what the problem was. Apparently someone had held up a Quickie-Mart and been chased to the area. Given the helicopter, I think the guy was probably armed and the hold-up ugly. The cop didn’t share details, but advised we stay inside. Of course, my writer’s imagination kicked into overdrive.

We’d been oblivious to the danger when in the pool, enjoying the moment, unaware of our surroundings. What if the robber had been lurking in the darkness with a gun?

So, why am I thinking of this now? Because events, no matter how random or long ago, are worth tucking into the idea book you carry in your head. I’m not sure that moonlight swim will ever make it into one of my novels, but I’m going to hang onto the memory. It freaked me out when it happened but, hey, how many people can say they were caught up in the middle of a manhunt?

How about you?  Are you one for collecting ideas and nuturing them indefinitely?

Oh, and by the way, should you ever make it to Phoenix I highly recommend the rattlesnake at Rustler’s Rooste. It really does taste like chicken!

6 thoughts on “A Helicopter, Robber and a Moonlight Swim

  1. I took an (unplanned) tour of a nuclear submarine in 1985… I actually went down to tour the Aircraft carrier – it was Fleet Week – but it had closed for the day by the time I got there. Not sure why the sub was still open… but it was. You never know what you may need in the future as a writer. Was that ever fun! Diane


  2. Oooh, story fodder for sure! I remember going through a WWII sub once in Inner Harbor but I’m claustrophobic, so I couldn’t wait to get out. Sounds like you enjoyed your tour! 🙂


  3. Oh my Mae! That is a great story! And now that you mention it, it sparked a memory that I must have tucked away myself. I was at a camp outing late at night and some of the kids of the place came and got us to let us know that a couple was taking a “moonlight swim”. Of course, theirs wasn’t so… clothed. Cops came and chased them out, birthday suits and all 🙂 It was quite the campfire story from then on!


    • Fantastic story, L.J., and definitely worthy of slipping into a book! I bet those kids talked about it for weeks and the couple was far choosier about where they took their swims from then on, LOL!


      • It’s interesting how simple pleasures can turn out to be something not so simple after all. Growing up on a ranch – I learned a thing or two about registered angus cattle. That followed me into gov. service and my chosen career. However, apart from my career I was asked to visit a rancer in CA as several of his registered cows had been shot by tanks that were involved in practive manuvers – not a fun sight but I’ve always wondered how I could work that into a manuscript – military tanks and the men within them thinking cows were good targets. Lesson learned by the military – you must approach a rancher with an open checkbook.


      • Now THAT is one for the record books. My mind just went into overdrive imagining the kind of damage a tank could do to a cow. What a dreadful site that must have been! I can so see that playing out as part of a movie or book. I’m sure I would have lost my breakfast, but then I didn’t grow up on a ranch and, (don’t laugh), get squeamish at the sight of red meat. What an interesting background you have, Sheri!


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