Got My Chips Cashed In

So, let’s talk about our truck. She is a 2013 Tacoma with about 100K miles. She appears brand new without scratch nor blemish. She is the rock bottom of the Tacoma range with a 2.7 liter 4 cylinder motor that only churns out 180 bhp, incidentally this is more than the V8 Range Rover with which I used to spend my time. She has 5 speed manual transmission and hi and low 4 wheel drive. She has no extras, meaning you wind down windows by hand. There is no GPS, no backing up screen, no TV, no massage parlor, nor spa. All of this I love, I mean she is a truck, not a lowdown, yankee, tenderfoot limousine. What really made it impossible for me not to buy her is her bench seat. Bench seats are the best. You wind down the window, push your elbow out into the wind and roll on down the highway, as your best girl snuggles up against you singing Joni Mitchell songs.

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Inside the truck. You cannot really see the bench seat because it is covered in stuff, which is what it is for.

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By the Snake River in Oregon

She drives like a truck. The gear stick is long and thick, the clutch is heavy, she exudes tractor like solidity. 1st gear is very low indeed, which is perfect for towing and difficult off road terrain. 2nd  is  also a working gear, low and grunting. However 3rd, 4th and 5th are traveling gears, 5th in particular is an overdrive for those high plain dead straight highways with a storm rolling in from behind.

She does not accelerate but rather just gets faster. Forget flooring the pedal and roaring past big trailer trucks carrying feed from Wyoming. You can buy trucks that do that, trucks with 300 bhp motors but these do not interest me. Trucks should not go fast. They are strong, honest, reliable and love a load of goats in the flatbed. That said our truck will go 75 mph all day at 2,300rpm. James and I have just done 2.400 miles in 5 days without ever taking the motor above 3,000 rpm.

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Truck in Gran Teton National Park

So why do Americans love pick up trucks? As we drove around the wide open lands of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada we took truck data. We counted the number of trucks that came the other way down the long and lonesome highway towards us compared to the number of like saloon cars. It came out that 55% of vehicles were trucks. Clearly a lot of these folks do not use their trucks for farming, ranching, hunting and that kind of stuff. However there is clearly a strong identification with the land. An identification with a way of life that has been recent in their family and above all it is a statement of outdoorishness. The problem is that trucks, especially ours, are brutish yet people like comfort. This has led to double cab trucks that are luxury saloons with a flatbed.

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Double cab truck but this one is a true work truck. Winnamuca Nevada.

Why are there very few trucks in Europe? I suppose it has something to do with history. People on the land were serfs and peasants you know, that sort of thing, on small plots with thousand of years of same, same, engendering a different relationship with the land than your average cowpoke on wide open range.

However the killer app is the big motor. A truck needs a big motor, a grumble, rumble V8 if possible. Mine has a tiny 2.7 liter motor and I can only drive her because I am old and have come to terms with my masculinity. Nevertheless, this size of motor is very large in Europe. A truck with a 1.2 liter high revving motor does not work.

Most of the the trip is devoted to birdwatching and here is another truck virtue. You are seated high and our Tacoma has a very large window that allows the photographer to lean out and capture.

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Antelope on the western plains.

Our truck also has a camper shell, which I am ambivalent about. It takes away from truckishness as you cannot see the flat bed but it is very practical. This trip saw a lot of rain, hail and snow and without the shell all our stuff would have been drenched. It also allows snuggy camping.

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Supplies

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View from flatbed into driving hail

Anyway I love my truck. Soon I will retire and take her to Alaska!

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Well deserved pamper back in San Francisco

 

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