W oodrow and I used my truck on a road/camping trip to the mountains of New Mexico in back in June. The reason was simple. I have to drive.
No, I have to drive.
I love to drive and am the world’s worst passenger. If I’m in that seat, I’ll either sleep the whole way, which is probably good for some people, or I’ll do bad things when I get bored.
I get bored easily while riding. Then important things start going out the window, music gets really loud, and I start messing with the driver, which isn’t usually a good idea.
So through past 35 years, whenever Woodrow and I head out on an adventure, he rides and I drive.
We were somewhere high in a caldera in the mountains when we saw a herd of elk in a huge meadow down below. I pulled off into a nearby overlook and we parked to watch them.
He and I have a long history of simply stopping to talk. Some of the places we stop might be odd to some folks, and others, remarkable. Once, on the way back from a float trip down the Frio, he and I stopped in a small country cemetery off I-35 to pay our respects to his favorite author, the late Roy Bedichek. Woodrow loves Bedichek’s works, so we sat in the truck parked in the shade of a live oak, and talked philosophy, writing, and where we all end up at the end of a long, productive life.
That was near as perfect an afternoon as I’ve known.
Another time while we were on separate trips, I called him from the side of the road just outside of Key West, Florida. He pulled his old Chevrolet over on the side of the road in Wyoming’s Wind River Range and we described what we could see from where we were.
That day last June, we left the overlook and cruised through forests of pinon pine with the windows down and real country music playing on the radio, and not that bubble-gum, rap-crap, rock and roll *$&#!!! they call modern country.
He sipped on a “to go” cup of coffee. “I love trucks.”
With a cup in my own in hand, I took a deep breath of clean, pine-scrubbed air. “Me too. I don’t think I could do without one.”
“You know what I like best about your truck?”
Uh oh. Here it comes. Woodrow has concrete black and white thoughts about what makes a “True Truck,” instead of a “City Truck.”
He pointed toward the hump in the floorboard between us. “You have two pairs of gloves lying there.”
I glanced down at the worn work gloves. There’s always at least one pair in the truck. I used a pair yesterday to unload splintery boards in a landfill. Other times they’re ready for a flat tire, or maybe to open a wire gate on a hunting lease.
He sipped again, and sighed as cool air rushed through the open window. “We live in the city, where most people keep their pickups washed, vacuumed, and waxed. I know guys who wouldn’t put a pair of dirty gloves in the floorboard. But you have two. I like that.”
We continued through the mountains, talking trucks. I recalled Grandpa’s old 1948 Chevrolet, Dad’s 1956 Ford, and my first new truck, a 1986 Ford. He’d only recently purchased a new Chevrolet after the rear axle on his old pickup froze up and flipped him and his wife, Flower Child, on Interstate 45.
Their seatbelts held, and they emerged scratched, but still healthy.
My new Dodge dually is mainly to pull our RV. I’m pretty particular about it, because it still looks new, though a few rude folks have opened doors against it in parking lots. There’s scuff on one side, from a mesquite on the deer lease.
It’s used mostly on the highway when I’m not pulling the trailer. But it has also evolved in the past few weeks. Now there boxes of shotgun shells, cleaning kits, tools, camping gear, coolers, and new baby seat.
The new acquisition is for my grandbaby Miss Riley Harper, who belongs to the Redhead, and Taz’s new girl, Miss Logan Joy, not to mention Parker who’s still trying to cut his first tooth.
So I have a baby seat behind me, with a mirror attached to the headrest so I can see who is with me. You’d think I’d be out of that business, but that’s not the way of it.
What Woodrow didn’t know that day in New Mexico was that I’d put the second pair in the truck before he and I left, just in case we had a flat tire. He’d need a pair of his own to help me change it.
What he didn’t know, didn’t hurt him.
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]