On the last day before the Critter and I headed to Tennessee, I stole a few minutes away at lunchtime and gave a call to the guy with the truck to make sure we could come by and see it when we got there.
'The '60? I sold it.'
Oh. Shit. Less than 24 hours until we hit Tennessee, and I had no truck lined up to look at. And I was still at work, and in meetings for the rest of the day. A furtive few minutes of Craig's List searching later and I had come up with a couple of what I hoped would be decent alternatives. But essentially, I was left with not much more than a couple of maybe-idea candidates, a pair of one-way tickets for me and my 6 year old daughter, and a pocket with some cash in it, waiting for a truck to spend it on.
This was quickly turning out to be one of the least-well planned ventures I have undertaken in the past 10 years. My Bride had some choice words for me when I told her about the sold truck, but I re-assured her that everything should be fine. After all, I was headed to Nashville. Where there are more trucks than people. The state government issues them when you move there, or after the birth of your first child. If Fred Thompson had ever been elected President, Air Force One would have gotten mud flaps and a rifle rack.
Tennessee - you know, where the only thing better than discount tobacco stores:
... were discount tobacco and firearms stores:
I mean, I'd be able to find something.
Saturday, my step-father, his mechanically inclined buddy Mike and I drove two hours to see what I thought was the most likely candidate: a 1967 Ford F-100.
It was beautiful. And in near-stock shape. An hour later, it was mine.
. It doesn't have power steering. Or power brakes. Or a radio. Or air conditioning. It's awesome. It's a three-on-a-tree, manual transmission, 6 cylinder beauty. Simple, understandable, I think even I can manage it.
Within 24 hours of landing, I had found the perfect truck, that was pretty much ready to make the drive back to Massachusetts as is.
Mike, mechanic-buddy, took it for a few hours before we headed out and made sure it was tuned for a long drive. And early this morning, we climbed in, set the TomTom, and headed out.
From Nashville, we headed east. Look! Virginia!
See the rain? It was like that almost all day. This was our view for most of the journey. Rain. Trucks. Wind. Sigh...
Hey! West Virginia! I've never been before. I suppose I should make hick jokes or snarky comments about rednecks. But let me point you back to the Discount Tobacco and Firearms store** from earlier.
And Maryland! I've been here, but I can't for the life of me remember why.
You'll have to pretend I snapped a shot of the Pennsylvania state line when we passed it, as I wasn't quick enough to get one after driving about 11 hours straight. Instead, let me show you another picture of my beautiful truck.
I've no idea why we were so fascinated with state lines, except as a way to communicate to my fresh-from-England daughter how very big a place the U.S.A. is. She was totally cool with the whole roadtrip idea - I don't know how I managed to get blessed with such a laid back kid, but she didn't say "I'm bored" or "I've got to go to the bathroom" or "are we there yet?" even once on the drive. She just enjoyed the ride, listening to her iPod or telling jokes together and absorbing the passing sites: the signs for Endless Caverns or Shenandoah Caverns or Ruby Caverns or Uncle Bubba's Super Special Rainbow Gnome Caverns And Gift Shop.
Tonight, we're stopped a ways past Hershey, Pennsylvania, where every hotel room within 30 miles was full, in a sort of sad old Days Inn that has that slightly damp film on every flat surface in the room and smells of menthols and despair. A road trip rite of passage.
Tomorrow, I'll introduce her to the perfect, spiced beef snack that is a Slim Jim.
**Note: I pulled in to the Discount Tobacco and Firearms store at about 7:30am to take that picture. It was already open, according to the neon sign in the window. One guy pulled up in another truck and got out while I was there in the parking lot. Another guy walked out of the store to meet him. They both looked at me as if I needed to give the secret sign or wave or whatever, or get out of there. I think the fact that my truck came equipped with both a rifle rack and an NRA sticker in the back window bought me a little credit while I pretended to re-arrange the suitcases in the back of the pickup. And then I drove to the gas station next door to take the photo from a safe distance. Who the hell needs discount tobacco and firearms at 7:30 in the morning? Why do I find this suspicious?