Several years ago I made up my mind: I was finished with tenting. As much as I adore camping and being out there immersed in wind, sun, rain, trees, and fresh air… the lumpy mattress woes and worries of elk tripping and spooking on the tent cords had done me in. It was time to move on up! It was time for a truck and camper.
I knew I was looking at older trucks because I had a very limited budget. I’ve always had a fondness for rugged tough-as-nails trucks anyways. The first standard I learned on at the tender age of 12 was a big ol’ green truck with a stick-shift on the floor. I asked if I could, so my dad got me started and I was more than eager to drive around that harmless pasture. He knew that tough truck could easily handle my occasional stalls and mis-gears. So when it came to searching out a treasure with my twenty-five hundred dollars, I was completely ready to find a tough old truck.
After scouring ads in the papers for weeks, I noticed a phone number being repeated in many ads. After calling I learned they were a small business purchasing old fleets when businesses were upgrading. I headed their way and drove my car into the rough and bumpy lot. Poor car. This lot was much better suited to a truck. There were dump trucks and flatbeds and pick-up trucks everywhere, scattered about in a rough semblance of a parking lot. As I pulled in I wondered how or where I’d find ‘Jim’ the friendly fellow I’d spoken with on the phone. But as I parked next to a hap-hazard row of trucks, a large kindly man approached my car, wiping his hands on a rag. Reminded me of my dad, except subtract many years.
With my tight budget there were only three trucks that day and I still remember them all. A black and red automatic Ford, with a topper and a few ‘bells & whistles’ like power windows and “Tasmanian Devil” accessories and mats. Not feelin’ it. Next truck: a green Chevrolet bench seat automatic. Long box. Very plain, no personality. How else to say it? This wasn’t the one. Finally, the last one, a bit over budget since they were hoping to get $3K for it, but maybe if I could do $2600, was a white giant that drew my eye the moment I drove onto the lot. As we walked closer to this Chevrolet Cheyenne 2500, I saw it had a bumper sticker with a photo of a coyote and a speed limit sign, with the words: “Slow down. Their lives depend on it.” I loved it already. As I walked around the side to open the driver’s door, I could see the glue remnants of the PARKS CANADA letters wearing off the rear side window. This was feeling more like my truck.
I pulled the door open and it groaned and squeaked and asserted its weight as it clunked open. The terribly torn seat on the front corner of the driver’s side didn’t faze me one bit, even though I was in shorts on that hot August day. I ignored the torn corner and eagerly slid behind the huge steering wheel. It was a standard, with 4-on-the-floor… and a 4×4. What joy! I felt an impulse I can hardly describe, that I somehow knew this truck was perfect for me… just what I’d been looking for to haul landscaping supplies and later, to haul my camper once I found one. Jim handed me the keys, unable to hide his surprise at my enjoyment of this big beauty. A ¾ ton crew-cab with the back seat and stereo ripped out. A huge spare tire with change-kit filled the space behind the split-bench front seat. I didn’t care about anything except that I loved it. Having been a government fleet vehicle, it had been very well cared for. I took it for a test-drive, and my teen son who’d accompanied me on this adventure of truck shopping, enjoyed how it beeped when in reverse as if it was a REALLY big truck.
I bought that big beauty that day. While I strive to live ‘green’ and do what I can to conserve and reduce consumption… I adore my big truck. The small, energy efficient car is used for the travels around the city we have to make. The truck sits and waits for special occasions. Summertime projects such as moving rocks for the garden, moving things for loved ones, and camping. Ah camping, that glorious time to enjoy our own little spot of wilderness. Which I enjoy immensely with my reliable truck and the nice second-hand camper I bought after the truck. I am truly blessed. Thank you God. I give thanks for living near the Rocky Mountains and for the gorgeous campgrounds only an hour from my home. I give thanks for the cozy bed and snug security in my little ‘portable’ home. And I especially give thanks for that wonderful old truck of mine.
Image source: Seth Duffey photos www.leavethatthingalone.com