I live in a house on the edge of a small town in a relatively unpopulated part of Florida. Ten years ago, fed up with a lifetime of urban living and its grim gridlock and endless red-light traffic jams, I moved to the Sticks. Within a five-mile drive to the North, East or West from where I sit, it’s all gentle hills and open land–“Horse Country”– sliced by lightly patrolled, near-empty rural roads.20 miles away is an expansive National Forest, and there are several Indian Reservations out there, each a twenty minute drive into the Back Country down an empty Reservation road. The closest big city is 90 minutes away from me. That makes for miles of near-unused country roads, a perfect environment for exercising my Z, and now my G.
Sunday, I drove G over those near-empty roads at illegal speeds along the River and through The Forest to a charming, 98% rural encampment of Doublewides and shotgun shacks that seemed to grow from the wooded countryside–a place called Hog Valley, NOT named for the motorcycle, although the bar I chose to drink at had a parking lot full of them. I almost didn’t stop, but buried among the pickups and choppers in the dusty lot was a familiar flash of Sunset orange. I caught it from the corner of my eye, slammed on the brakes, found a distant parking space and went in to have a cold one. Finding a Sunset Z way out here is a story waiting to be told, I was thinking. . .
Even though the place was at the End of the Earth, it was Sunday-crowded, with lots of people watching football or playing pool. The odor of BBQ pork–what else???–filled the busy barroom as smoke drifted in from the outdoors pit. The music was by Willie Nelson, the beer by Bud. Redneck kids ran around freely, having a ball, untethered to their parents who sat in booths or on the stone patio, swilling pitchers as they told each other hunting and fishing stories. Off to the side, a crew of leathered-up bikers were watching a Brother shoot stick with an attractive brunette in really tight jeans. She was winning.Ah, the Country. Finding places like this is why I go out and roam the back roads. Beer, Country music, fried meat and some of the most interesting people around. Who, I wondered, owns the Z???
I sat at the bar and ordered a Bud. I noticed a Z keychain in a purse on the bar. A few minutes later, Tight Jeans sat down next to me and ordered a beer. . . . Man, she’s a 10 out of 10. . .–“It’s on me” I said, thinking fast. “Today, I’m buying drinks for any Z owners I come across, and you qualify”( I know, it’s lame as hell for a pickup line, but it worked. . . )
We spent the next few hours engrossed in one another. We talked cars and football, divorces and travel. We made each other laugh, ate freshly barbequed hog in The Valley, drank way too much beer and drove each others’ cars. I told her how much I missed my Z, she praised the G as the larger Brother to the Z, but mocked me for having an automatic.She’s an Anesthesiologist, originally from Vermont, with a degree from Johns Hopkins and two tattoos, one of which she declined to show me. She’s lived in Florida twenty years, mostly around Miami. She moved here to get away from the Big City. . .
She spoke about how rare her Z seems to be, and I readily agreed, launching a conversation about Sunsets that lasted until way past sunset. She has had hers for 3 years, undoubtedly one of the three, or five that I’ve been seeing around town. . . I’m meeting her for lunch on Tuesday. She is a doll, forty-ish, a Medical Professional and freshly divorced with a 12-year old. We seem to make very good first impressions on one another. I’m looking forward to Second Impressions. She lives five miles from me, and she’s promised that we can take her car to lunch, and I can drive !!!
“What if lunch is forty miles away” I asked.
“You’re driving” she said.
The biggest laugh of the day–pure irony??? We each had the same stone-country Travis Tritt CDs in our respective cars and when we fired up each others cars in the dusty parking lot out in Hog Valley, THE SAME SONG came on!!!
THAT doesn’t happen every day. . .
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