Not in Kansas anymore

It wasn’t a planned stop, but a few weeks ago I blew through a place I can only describe as the New West. In a blink, the view through the windshield shifted.

Peaks, buttes and mesas still hung in the backdrop; the air was still weighed down by that mystic power plant haze; and I’m pretty sure there was still a mighty river hiding somewhere behind the buildings.

But what was that middle-aged man doing dressed in fur boots and a smooth, lambskin vest? Why was the pair in matching leather coats, each clutching a white cup with a green insignia, immersed in separate cell phone conversations as they walked down the street together.

Looking at my wife Rachael through a twisted smile, I asked, “I haven’t been paying close attention, but did we just warp to Santa Fe?”

The light changed, and a high-pitched, almost melodious toot sounded behind us. The image in my rear-view also didn’t fit the picture. The sporty gunmetal frame resembled what might happen if a 1956 Willy’s and a sleek Carrera got loaded and slipped into one of North Main’s finest. .

“Willy, I must say I’m quite partial to naming our offspring ‘Cayenne,’” the sharp European voice might say. “It would be in honor of that spicy condiment you rustics enjoy so bleeding much.”

My reverie broke as the horn sounded again, distinctly less sonorous this time. I flipped the Porsche the international symbol for “adios” and pulled my trusty Japanese steed over into the right hand lane. Cayenne zung past on one side, and I was nearly blindsided by a large piece of wood, dolled up in fancy lettering, on the other. The giant pink adobe advertisement shouted “El Luxurio” (or something like that).

“Executive lofts and suites now available! Starting in the low $600s!” Judging from the construction to that point, each little super-condo contained at least two heated bays for a Cayenne to call home – the garages better appointed than the honeymoon crib at the Strater. Things got even stranger upstairs, where huge plate glass windows stared out on other huge plate glass windows.

“Honey, it looks like the Nurembergs got a new plasma screen, and you’re not going to believe this, but I think they’re watching ‘Smoky and the Bandit II.’”

Each retreat appeared to be rounded out with an architectural likeness of Delicate Arch – all locked behind a security system that would make W. a steady sleeper.

“Is the ride almost over?” I asked Rachael. “I think I’m starting to feel a little sick.”

What better place to ease the mind than at one of the area’s gear stores. Nothing like a prospective adventure to calm the nerves and restore good old-fashioned Western sensibilities. Wrong. We hit another dead-end.

“These things sure are heavy,” shouted what seemed to be a Brooklyn accent with L.A. undertones. With a hefty wince on his face, the man swung a devilish looking ice tool through the air. “Boy, sure could do some damage with one of these.”

Sniffing a prospective sale, the floor worker jumped back and forth, dodging the blade while Sir Edmund swung the weapon blindly.

“I guess it works like this,” Ed pronounced, slamming the ice tool into the drywall. “I think I like it … Set me up with the works … This’ll show Nuremberg.”

Carrying ice tools, crampons, double boots, screws and a helmet, Sir Edmund left the store and a host of smiling workers. Clutching his keys and aiming the small, electronic keychain at a silver Porsche SUV, the man stumbled blindly into the sidewalk. That’s when three worlds collided. Also oblivious, that pair of matching leather coats was still talking on cell phones. A crash sounded, climbing gear exploded onto Main and the white cups dressed in green mermaids took flight, latté spilling onto the ice gear and mocha heading for the Cayenne.

In response, Carhartt jackets, Levis and hands holding brown paper coffee cups smiled up and down the avenue. The grins all said the same thing – “There’s no place like home.”

– Will Sands

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows