This morning I set out to cover the Spring Silver Auction at the Fort McDowell resort just beyond the Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Usually, it’s a relatively quick drive along Shea Boulevard from my home in Scottsdale. Saturday, it was anything but that.
Saturday, presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking at an outdoor rally in Fountain Hills.
Anticipating some extra traffic, I left early. Just not early enough, as it turned out. I had not anticipated to be stopped by dozens of anti-Trump protesters, many with their faces covered by bandanas, many of whom parked their cars in the middle of the road, chanted anti-Trump slogans and held up signs reading “Dump Trump” or “Must Stop Trump.”
Traffic backed up quickly. Chanting turned into obscene comments.
I was never more thankful for the dark tint coating my car’s windows. I remained still, comforted in knowing no one could see in, and hoping the experience to be over quickly.
Various Maricopa County Sheriff Department and state Department of Public Safety personnel were on the scene as local television news helicopters hovered above. Protestors took to marching toward the rally as police directed tow trucks and tried to restore order.
I was still miles from the auction and was freaked out by the commotion., especially when I learned that the alternate route, state road 87, also was blockaded.
Finally, I was able to make my way past not only police cars with their lights flashing but dozens and dozens of cars that had been left by the side of the road as their occupants simply got out and walked to the rally.
I made it through yet another blockade. It was surreal, I felt as though I was in some kind of war zone.
Finally, I reached Arizona 87. Southbound traffic was stopped, but I was heated north to the auction. What is usually a 15-minute trip took nearly two hours.
Fortunately, people at the auction appeared unaffected by what was happening just a couple of miles to the southwest. They were enjoying themselves, inspecting cars, joking with friends, and over the loud speakers I could hear bids going up into six figures.
Law enforcement was present, but not prominent. It was calm, peaceful, and no one seemed alarmed or bothered by the nearby situation.
“The sale has been great so far, selling most of the quality cars,” Mitch Silver posted on Facebook. “We will be selling to 9:00 p.m. tonight and again tomorrow. It’s worth the effort.”
He was right. I was freaked out by the drive, but my time at the auction was worth it.