As we started our return road trip back to Colorado (curiously enough) two events occurred that could have drastically altered what would follow (to play off “the dramatic” and my earlier dead bird post…), and are definitely “cousins” to the title of this post.
As we headed out of Green Valley, AZ, two of us wanted coffee. So, just before hitting the Interstate, we pulled into a McDonald’s drive-thru. As we’re waiting in line after ordering, a loud hissing and an emission of a “steam-like substance” erupts from our vehicle! We turn off the vehicle, turn it back on…and all is quiet. As we get our drinks, we ask about mechanics and are told one is literally behind us, on the other side of the road. A Mr. Automotive. Long story short, we find out a relay had gone bad, causing our A/C’s internals to “vent” as it did. Freon. Well, whatareyagonnado? as my paternal grandfather used to say. So, we hung out and got it fixed. But, toward the end, we’re thinking about who wants lunch (I do) and when (now), so I volunteer to walk across to the same McDonald’s and get us some grub (curiously, as we headed across the intersection, to the mechanic’s, I had a mental image of me walking across this intersection, heading back over to the shopping center…).
I leave the shop.
As I’m walking towards the intersection—which is quite busy—another clear image fills my mind…one of me being hit by a car in the middle of this intersection. Cockily, I mentally chide myself: “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen….”
The light goes green. I proceed across.
Intensely checking out all the traffic because of my “vision,” I make my way into the middle of the intersection—when this car comes screaming out of the shopping center I’m heading toward…on a direct collision course with—yeah, you guessed it—me.
I stop and turn toward the car—throwing both arms into the air in a “What the HELL?!” gesture, as I wait for the car to stop.
In the car I see a blonde woman in her fifties or so at the wheel. Eyes wide. I think she had brown eyes. Clearly, she has just awoken from her nap, or cell phone, or whatever thing she (and the rest of the world) is in such a damned hurry to get to/from without watching where she’s going…while flooring the accelerator. A common affliction I am seeing more and more of from all drivers. Her driver-side window is open.
She apologizes profusely.
I drop my arms. I smile. I continue on.
For the love of cheeseburgers.
1) Coffee saved our bacon from this electronic relay failure happening out in the middle of the desert (thanks, wife!), and
2) A vision I rejected from my reality kept me from remaining down in Green Valley. Or at least, parts of me….
We leave the mechanic after about two hours (and a fun pinball machine—thanks, Mr. Automotive, for getting us in pronto and back out on the road!) and head northeast.
One of the cool things about road trips are all the neat, hidden tourist traps that exist out there. It’s kinda like that movie, Vacation (one of my favorite movies):
“Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes… or perhaps you don’t want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away.”
So, how about…The Thing?
What is…”The Thing” you ask?
No it’s not some frozen extraterrestrial creature waiting to be thawed out and eat us all (or is it?).
But it is a roadside attraction 17 miles east of Benson, Arizona and 40 miles east of Tucson, Arizona. Basically, out in the middle of nowhere (noted by the “miles east of” directions…). It’s a gas station. And gift shop. Oh, and a Museum. Where The Thing resides. And a way to get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs.
So, we stopped.
Now, my wife and Mom-in-law had already seen this…thing…they were just bringing me in on the fun. So, we paid our dollar-per-customer fare and entered…the lair…which took you back outside to walk between a series of warehousey building by following yellow-painted “foot” steps on concrete sidewalks. We went to three metal buildings, following these footprints, which (appropriately enough) ended back in the gift shop. In these three warehousey structures were all things that were “the thing” at some point in history…as well a crapload of driftwood art. Grotesque, creepy driftwood/root system art. Surreal. The stuff of nightmares, one could say. There were also a couple of torture exhibits I just didn’t get into…not that any of it was graphic…but just the intent…the notion of it was upsetting to me, especially since we were on a “quest for fun,” or, rather, were returning from said. Torture exhibits did not fit into that weltanschauung.
Anyway, there were some interesting things to look at besides the nightmarish tree root art, like antique cars, books, and a 1654 matchlock.
But, mainly, it was about the nightmarish tree root art and this “Thing.”
Note: the “green” of some of the images (below) was from the light illuminating through green fiberglass roofing.
Afterwards, as we munched DQ cones (did I write that out loud?), I asked the only guy at the front desk in the gift shop (there had been two others but they were now gone) about “The Thing.”
“Was it real?”
I just wanted to get “the answer.” The dude said he’d heard the owners tell conflicting stories (no doubt to fuel the whole “Thing” mystique…). One version was that “it” was found in the Grand Canyon. The other version was that it was…
Made by a company in California that makes things like this for places like this.
Well, whatever it is, it got us out of our vehicle and got us to stretch our legs around this strange Compound of Weirdness out in the Middle of Nowhere, Arizona….
And it was only a dollar.