I joke that my Toyota pickup truck is my best friend. In some ways,
though, it's not a joke because I've spent more time with my truck, a 1985
long-bed, than with just
about anyone I know, it treats me well, and it's my faithful companion.
And, unlike a lot of women I know, it's never stood me up! During my trips around North America, my truck becomes my home since I much prefer to sleep in the back of my truck than
in a tent or even a motel
room. In fact, I've slept in my
truck over 600 nights (almost two years) and, since I don't have a house, it's more of a
home than anything else I have.
5-minute movie about my well-traveled truck.
I bought my truck in 1984 in Portland brand-new and have driven it over
250,000 miles through 48 states (see
My Previous Roadtrips). I've never given it a name; it's just "the truck."
Even though it's 24 years old, it still has the original engine and brakes and I've
rarely had any trouble with it, probably because I treat it gently and do just about all the
maintenance on it myself. And my truck still gets 30 mpg on the highway, just like
when it was new.
Shortly after I bought it, I got a canopy
and installed carpet in the
bed because, as I've learned,
it's not fun to sleep on a metal bed during a cold night. I also built a strongbox where I store my laptop and camera
equipment and removed the cab
window so I can reach into the back from the driver's seat.
I really enjoy listening to music, I've spent a lot of time over the years
installing various stereo systems. My current
stereo system includes a:
8017 receiver/MP3 player
150-watt, 4-channel amplifier
speakers (6 in front, 4 in back, plus a removable 12" subwoofer)
pretty protective of my truck and have let only two other people drive it, my nieces
Heather and Sarah, when I taught them how to drive a stick-shift.
By the way, I think every person should learn how to use a stick-shift because they might
have to drive one some day, especially if they go overseas. About 90% of all cars in the U.S. have
automatic transmission and 10% have manual transmission, but those numbers
are reversed in many other parts of the world.
my truck has never been broken into. In fact, the only time that anyone has vandalized my truck was in Austin, Texas, during my
2001 trip around the U.S.
when someone keyed my door (see News:
June 29, 2001). I'm still ticked off about it because, yes, my truck
is my friend -- and it's a great traveling companion.
left: The cab during my current trip around America, as I got ready to
leave Mark and Jayne's house in Minneapolis. That's my 12" subwoofer
on the floor, a DC-AC inverter in my cigarette lighter that I use to charge my
laptop and camera batteries, and my MP3 receiver. I mounted a 150-watt amplifier behind the
seat and recently installed custom-fitted seat covers.
center: My pickup's 7-foot-long bed... which is also my bed. I've
slept in this truck in almost every state, spending over 600 nights
here. I sleep on a custom-cut, furniture-quality 4-inch-thick foam
pad. It's really comfortable and, in fact, I sleep much better here than in a tent or motel room.
right: My truck's padlocked strongbox, which I made out of heavy 3/4" plywood. This is where I keep my laptop, camera and other valuables locked
up when I'm not carrying them. I bolted the box to the bed so it can't be
lifted out. I've also got drapes for all the windows
and there's a light on the canopy so I can read at night. Yeah, it's a pretty
most people go traveling, they take pictures of their friends or family. When I
go traveling, I take pictures of my truck -- or of people standing next to my
truck. Here are just a few of the pictures that I've taken of my truck from all around
North America during the past 22 years, shown in
left: The odometer at 273
miles, a few days after I bought my truck (December
center: My 3-week old truck at my brother Dave's house in Sacramento, before I
bought my canopy
right: My bumperless truck's first cross-country trip, at Monarch Pass in Colorado
left: Driving across eastern Colorado (January
center: The passenger seat during a cross-country drive, in Kansas
right: Brad, a friend from the University of Wisconsin (see News:
at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball
game (April 1985).
left: Camping in Ontario, Canada, trying to figure out where the heck
I am (October 1985).
center: If there's no campground nearby, like here in Manassas,
Virginia, sometimes I'll just sleep in a motel parking lot. I've learned,
however, not to ask the manager for a wake-up call
right: Visiting my friend, Carole, (see News:
June 14, 2001) near Atlanta, Georgia
left: In Madison after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1986,
all packed up
and ready to head west. That's a sleeping platform I built (May
center: Camping on the shores of Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, on the way
to my summer ranger job in Colorado (June
right: In Moab, Utah during a camping trip with my friend, Julie (see News:July
22, 2001), who's filling the cooler with ice on a very hot day
left: Camping in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova
Scotia, during a trip around North America
center: My sister Doti at her house in Lincoln City, Oregon, before my
drive to Florida (January
right: After living in Bradenton, Florida for four months, I packed up
and headed west (May
left: Visiting my old friend, Troy (see News:
June 14, 2001) in San Diego. Note the wooden bumper, which I built out of
2-by-4's because I couldn't afford a steel bumper (June
center: Camping at Looking Glass Rock in southern Utah with my friend,
Laurie, after a waterfight
right: The odometer turning over 100,000 miles in Leucadia (no pun),
left: Visiting Laurie in Whittier, California. Note the new
steel bumper. (April
center: My Aunt Betty in Capistrano Beach, California (April
right: My Dad and Mom in Bellingham, Washington, before another
solo cross-country trip (May
left: At Looking Glass Rock, Utah, my favorite campsite in
America (June 1993).
center: Near Lee's Ferry, Arizona during a four-month drive around
right: Weldon, a friend from U.C. Riverside, looking spiffy in Sun City, California
left: Lonely U.S. 180 near Petrified Forest National Monument, Arizona
center: Zion National Park, Utah (February
right: My Dad and I in Bellingham, the day after I broke my arm while
hiking with him (see News: August
left: At Grand Teton National Park (May
center: In Madison visiting Cynde, an old friend from my University
of Wisconsin days (see News: August
14, 2001) (June
right: Trying to cross the muddy Lemhi Pass in Montana
while following the Lewis and Clark Trail to Oregon. I didn't make it. (June
left: Hitting 200,000 miles in Portland (July
center: At Cape Sebastian on the Oregon coast. Note the new shiny
steel bumper (June
right: At the Burr Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, my
favorite road in the U.S. (June