Those months represented a spectral moment when a lot of orbits intersected. For the first time on this Planet, I had the time, the money and the best car that I could afford, I was single again and I had few obligations, other than to myself–so I indulged into a long-held fantasy and drove all around the country in a spectacular new sports car, and as the years reeled by we took dozens more long rides. Since I traded it off for my G Coupe last September, adventure has been sparse so there isn’t much to write about currently, other than my first big dent or the car’s third oil change. The absurd price for a tank full of gas has caused me to rebel, and I don’t do too much long-distance travel anymore. The G sits, waiting.
I sit at home and suck down Beck’s looking at pictures like some batty hermit fueled on nostalgia–here’s The Z surrounded by huge Bison at Yellowstone, here’s one taken in Manhattan, among towers of stone and steel. . .The Z at 11,000 feet passing into the Eisenhower Tunnel, The Z on Music Row in Nashville, Z in snow, Z at rest in Miami Beach, parked among Ferraris. . .
Ah, here’s a shot of the car taken in Sedona, Arizona in the Spring of ’03, where the brilliance of the light and the orange towering mesas surrounding the town are the exact color as the LeMans Sunset paint that coats my Z. . .
Directly behind the vantage point in the photo is a rambling, Western looking, rough sawn log building, three floors high, the signature for Central Sedona. As I speculated on how many forests had to die to create this structure, I noticed that, at the top of the stairs, which flowed like a waterfall down the front of the building, there was a Mexican restaurant. It was lunchtime and I was suddenly craving Mexican, so I swam upstream in a sea of wood, driven on by dreams of refried beans. It was, I saw, a pretentious Mexican restaurant, the kind that SPELLS OUT their prices on the menu rather than use confusing numbers. For example, coffee was “FOUR”; beer “SEVEN”.Chimichanga’s were “SIXTEEN”, rather pricey for what amounts to a fried tortilla, but I was hungry and I didn’t care if I got ripped off. So, I ate the expensive chimichanga, got into the Z and left Sedona.
Down the road I wound through Jerome, a third-gear place, a surreal little spot on the map, seemingly attached to the side of a mountain with Velcro. It was once a mining town, then a ghost town and finally it has become a boutique town. The road through Jerome wraps around a rock pile and the place is a mile long and two houses wide. A strange place to put a town. . .
After Jerome there was a loooooong stretch of desert road, empty and perfect for driving fast. Ten minutes of that, and the chimichanga spoke.
It began to churn, moving around like a living thing. It expanded, becoming a gas producing uber-chimichanga. It begged for–no, it DEMANDED release, sending it’s evil message out in gurgles and painful stitches, and it was informing me quite clearly that it would do ANYTHING to gain that release. There was no reasoning with it, and no amount of Maalox would make it go away.
I desperately looked around for a place to stop, but it was the desert and there was nothing anywhere, except rocks and dust. I could see distant mountains and a ribbon of highway that stretched on to them, uncaringly. No gas stations, stores or other places to do a Mexican food dump. Jerome was 10 fast minutes behind me. Too far. . .
“Well”, I thought, “is the Pope Catholic???”. . . and I pulled the Z off the pavement and found a comfortable rock. There, I left a “SIXTEEN” dollar brown spot in the beige Arizona desert, visible on Google Earth to this day (just type in “Chimichanga, Arizona”).It’s a little reminder that ethnic food, even stuff that costs as much as a tank of gas (. . . back then) is nothing to fool around with, especially if you plan to be in a toilet-free zone soon after consuming it.
Afterwards, I thought of writing the Governor of Arizona, urging the State to install Porta-Potties every few hundred yards along their highways, just in case some Mexican food fan suddenly joins the Food Release Program. I wanted to ask him to pay special attention to the area around Sedona, but then I had a few more Beck’s and forgot to do it.
That experience prompted me to always carry a roll of paper towels in the car. Maps of Arizona are just too scratchy, and if you get a paper cut you’ll curse chimichangas for a week. . . . well, you never know.
You just never know
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