Needless to say, it takes careful planning to prepare for several weeks of life on the road. As it happens, I drive a pickup truck – a 2011 Ford Ranger – one of the last ones ever made. Why Ford stopped making them, I can’t even guess, because it’s a great little truck. I bought my first one used back in 1998, and have been driving one ever since. In fact, this is my fourth. That green camper shell you’ll see below has been moved twice already! I must say it goes better with the gray than it did with the white.
Anyway, after running away from home in a station wagon – which was not the most comfortable vehicle to live in, although not the worst, either – I learned my lesson and upgraded to larger vehicles. There was, of course, my old ’69 Dodge, which will forever remain in my heart as my ultimate favorite (no offense, Ranger!). I loved that van so much that when its drive shaft broke somewhere in Illinois back in 1997, I had one custom-crafted at a machine shop to the tune of a thousand dollars – which was a giant pile of money for me in those days and, in fact, still is.
But alas, the day finally came when the van needed a part that no junkyard in New England could supply, and I had to face facts – the van was dead. I wept without shame when they hauled it away. I still weep when I remember the day.
The Rangers, however, have been great. They’re small trucks, so it’s no struggle getting in and out of them, no problem parking, and, since I switched to the four-cylinder, the gas mileage is pretty decent, too – 20 to 22 city and up to 30 mpg highway. And you sure couldn’t beat the price tag – this one I bought for a mere $13K. Thirteen thousand dollars for a brand new truck! Where are you going to find a price like that anymore? Of course, it’s easier when you don’t care about the bells and whistles. My windows roll down with a handle. My doors unlock with a key. My steering operates with arm muscles, as does my transmission. I’m all manual, baby!
And although I don’t take road trips much anymore, I have found it comforting, these last couple of decades, to own a vehicle that’s good for travelling – just in case. And here we are at last – case.
However, somewhere in my memory – my last major road trip was in 2003 – I suppose I must have re-worked my perception of just how much space is really in the back of this truck. Looks plenty roomy, doesn’t it?
Of course, once you add the microfiber top for me to lie on (somehow my hips are not quite as tolerant of the flatbed as they used to be), and a couple of comforters for the cold nights that will come later in the season, half of that space is gone.
Now back when I was a professional eBay seller specializing in rare and out-of-print videos, and spent months on the road each year buying inventory, I used to actually build the bed on top of video boxes. Really. I assembled a collection of uniformly sized boxes from distributors – they were about 2′ by 1′, as I recall – filled them with videotapes, and laid down right on top of them. Once I bought so much inventory that I even tried a second layer, but that was a bit claustrophobic for my taste, and I ended up spending my last few nights sleeping in my front seat, which, I confess, truly, truly stunk. Not this time, though, because my passenger seat is packed tight, and this is before I even set up my computer and other equipment:
Needless to say, I had to do some re-packing before I could actually lie down that first night in the truck.
I made it work for that one night, but boy, what a hassle! After a couple of days I realized that while my packing system was very logical – I’d naturally packed “like with like” – it was not really the most efficient use of space. It made far more sense to build the lower layer of my luggage out of stuff I needed less often – such as my spare books and warm clothes – than to insist on keeping them where, in my sense of organization, they “ought” to go. It was with great sadness that I ultimately decided that surface repacking was not going to solve the problem, and instead I ended up emptying the whole truck and starting over. It was hours of work, but I’ve been much happier with the results, although it is still pretty crowded, as you can see here:
Next time I’ll share the view of the cab with all of my modern conveniences assembled around me. Feel free to take a sneak peek via my new YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb5RugrJMSHh6_4hkgHmkMA. Just please don’t cry over my less-than-professional cinematography. I’m getting better, I swear!
I loved hearing your voice and seeing your Ranger! Very exciting to watch your journey unfold. I thought I had only been away from blogging just a few days and I’ve realized you’ve written an entire book already! I’m catching up, though, great reading and sights. Rangers are the best trucks–our first one the Hub bought in ’81 and the second in ’98. Each lasted a long time. Rangers were made in St. Paul, MN and the only reason they stopped is because Ford closed the plant. Good travels!
That’s why they stopped making them? Kind of a dumb reason, if you ask me :(
It has been a lot of blogging – almost too much, I think. But somehow I thought it would be more fun to keep it in semi-real time, although my internet is limited, so I am several days behind now. Got a good 30,000 words already, though, so you’re not kidding about me having written almost a whole book already :)
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Lori, I loved watching your video, having heard your voice and seen around your truck I really feel as if I know you. While I agree with Geoff to a degree about your bonkosity, I think it’s great that you’re out there, doing your thing.
I’ve been to some of the national parks in that part of the country – although my main memory of Utah is not being able to buy booze on a Sunday to toast my marriage – so I’ll be particularly interested in what else you plan to show us. Go girl, go!
PS. I’ve never had enough videos to use them as a bed but a boxful did make a decent footstool.
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Yes, no-booze-on-Sunday is one of the annoying things about Utah, but that’s actually not uncommon in the U.S. I remember being unable to buy beer in Massachusetts on Memorial Day, which I suppose is a mark of respect for veterans, but was still unexpected.
It’s amazing just how many national parks there are. I feel as if I’ve done quite a bit of travelling around the U.S., but when I look at my road atlas and all of the sights I’ve never seen, it’s astonishing. Nice to have this refresher after staying quietly at home for most of the past decade!
do you have lots of Americanisms for ‘nuts’? In addition to bonkers we have barking, doolally, dippy, loopy, a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, potty, got a screw loose, mad as a hatter… you probably have the same and more. Actually what I should have said is Go Girl and have a great time.
We have most of those, although I’ve never heard the “couple of sandwiches short of a picnic” one. Americanisms are not playing with a full deck, having a screw loose, having lost one’s marbles, etc. – all suggesting something’s missing. I like “bonkers” though – such a playful word! And anyway, I knew that “Go Girl” was what you meant by it ;)
I just watched the clip; Lori you are bonkers – nice, but bonkers. I loved ‘that’s my hammer; I left my bat at home’. For a moment, there’s me with this image of you with a pet pipistrelle flying round your head and nesting in your hair, squeaking ‘pieces of eight’. A pet bat – cool. Then I linked it back to the hammer and realised this is a wacko-deterrent. Not so cool. You take good care. Last year, the lawyer (with three friends admittedly) drove from New York to LA via Chicago, Rapid City, Wyoming, Seattle, San Fran and vlogged his journey. I’ll follow yours with interest. Bon chance!
Man, now I wish I did have a watchbat – that’d be way cooler! Thanks for finding such a polite way to say I’m nuts – most people aren’t so nice about it ;)
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