I think I was being gently taunted in a comment last week about a secret I’ve been keeping from the excellent readers of this humble blog. I traded in my old green pickup back in May for the new red pickup you see above. (If I was being gently taunted, perhaps the taunter picked up some slight evidence from the image in this post. Or this one. Or perhaps he has some other source of information.)

In any case, here’s the lowdown. The big green CHEVY had 198,00 miles on it. I was eager to top 200,000, and then we would just drive it until it died (preferably not while we were down at Roundrock though). The truck decided to die before then. A compressor had been making warning sounds for a few weeks (even a couple of trips to Roundrock, I think), and when I finally took it in for service, the mechanic told me that for $1,100 I could have the compressor replaced. If I chose not to, I could face the inevitable failure of two other essential components in the engine as well when the compressor finally died since they were all on the same devilish belt.

The truck would continue to limp along until its fore ordained catastrophic failure, but it was certainly no vehicle for making hundred mile trips deep into the Ozark wilderness. So we began shopping for a replacement.

The big green CHEVY had always been much more truck than we needed. The engine was more powerful than any of my uses had ever called for (except maybe that year that we moved our daughter, Rachel, from her Iowa dorm back home — that required the entire bed of my truck, an entire rental trailer I pulled behind it, Libby’s entire minivan, and much of the boyfriend’s parents’ SUV). With gas prices now doing what they’re doing, that big engine made even less sense. The bed of the truck was also much larger than I ever needed (except for the time I lent the truck to a friend who filled it to the rim with apples for his cider festival). Ironically, it was the cab in that oversized truck that proved to be too small. It had a bench seat in the back that was adequate, but getting in and out was always a clumsy, humiliating affair, and unless you were an eleven-year-old, it was no place to sit for long rides. #1 Son Seth did join us for many Roundrock trips, sitting on that bench seat uncomplaining, but even Max (the dog who doesn’t know he’s a dog and who’s still around though not making trips to Roundrock much anymore) didn’t like it. Plus the whole truck was so big that although we could fit it in the garage and get the door down, there were only inches to spare all around.

We looked at a couple of makes of smaller trucks with four doors, but I pretty much knew all along that I was going to settle on the TOYOTA Tacoma that you see above. Well, not that one exactly. I was thinking of a more muted color that might blend into the forest better for those times when we are at our campsite in the trees, hiding from interlopers.

It happened that at the same time the old truck was failing, #1 Son Seth learned for certain that he was not going back to Africa with the Peace Corps and so should start his life back in the States again. This meant looking for a real job and/or a graduate school, and either would require that he have reliable transportation. He and I went to the TOYOTA dealer because he was interested in the Prius hybrid, which he subsequently bought. While we were there I casually asked about four-door Tacomas with the smaller engine and four-wheel drive. The salesman who had helped Seth was, of course, happy to indulge me as well and began parading a half dozen of these smaller trucks past me. Each was not quite right — a sound system far too elaborate for my ears, leather seats, a sun roof, custom paint jobs, and all sorts of other expensive doodads that I didn’t feel the need to pay the extra money for.

Finally he drove the truck above from the back lot for my consideration. It met our minimum and maximum requirements, and it was within our budget, so it was a sale.

When I brought the red truck home I welcomed suggestions for naming it. (Libby calls her red HONDA Blanche. Adam’s TOYOTA goes by the name of Kodiak. Aaron’s CHEVY is called Bluebird because of its color. We have friends who have named their FORD Cheeseburger and their VOLVO French Fries. Really!) The winner would get powdered sugar donuts.

Among the suggestions were Roosevelt, Rodney, Butch (from Linda ), Quadriga de Sol (Chariot of the sun), Phoebus (Apollo), Bender, Red Baron, Omega Red, Clifford, Buckbeak, Thoreau, Crimson Dynamo, Stanley, Ensign Wesley Crusher, First Ensign Wesley Crusher, Red Shirt (the doomed crew members from Star Trek), Moulin Rouge , Big Red, Code Red, Awesome, Boba Fett, Camionneur Rouge De Roche (I don’t even know how to pronounce that), Red State Rambler, Come-here Rouge, Nipponatron, Bob Ziomek, Todd, Monty (as in Python), and the one I chose, Prolechariot (because it’s red and it’s a working truck). Prolechariot was suggested by #3 Son Aaron, though he has yet to collect the powdered sugar donuts, being way out in western Kansas as he is.

I’ve had it down to Roundrock three or four times already, and I’ve confirmed that it is perfectly suited for the job of hauling us comfortably and our gear capaciously. It even dances across the muddy places on our road where the old truck would bog down and dig furrows.

I’ve had the new truck for two months, but I haven’t yet put two thousand miles on it. We got ten good years out of the old truck, and I hope to do at least as well with this truck. It’s a long way to 200,000 miles.


Missouri calendar:

  • Squirrels bear summer litters.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Joseph Corby was born on this date in 1847. As a civic leader in St. Joseph, Missouri he gave the growing town its first telephone system, its first street railway, its first power plant, and its first fireproof building.

10 Responses to “Prolechariot”

  1. Ed Abbey Says:

    Although it wasn’t me hinting to reveal the truck, I’ve been waiting patiently for you to do so. I think you chose the right name.

  2. kerrdelune Says:

    As a name for the truck, how about “Lola”, “Lola Montez” or perhaps “Hester”?

  3. bill / prairie point Says:

    glad you’re helping out the economy. very pretty and more practical than a big truck. i have a small truck too and about the only negative about mine is that 4×8 sheets don’t fit in the back.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    Hey, we have a red Toyota Tacoma too! Not a 4-door though. Yours is very pretty and shiny. A very fine ride to Roundrock.

  5. Carolyn Hoffman Says:

    I’m up to 125,000 miles on my vehicle. Still mulling over what I might do when this one collapses, which hopefull won’t be for a few years yet.

    Carolyn H.

  6. LauraP Says:

    An appropriate name for a pretty, practical truck. We name our vehicles here, too. My truck is Flo. She’s plain and practical, but she has attitude and gets the job done.

  7. roger Says:

    perhaps we’re a bit short on auto-imagination (vehicle naming, not something kinky) so we have….the car and the truk.

  8. karl Says:

    for a little while there i thought there might be a truck naming contest. my submission is Quetzalcoatl. i know that you’ll reconsider and send those dough nuts my way anyway.


  9. Beau Says:

    Ah, there’s nothing like a truck. Once you’ve had one it’s hard to drive anything else. Except when gas prices are near $4 a gallon… I still have the ’93 Ford diesel 250 that purrs with only 122,000 on it, and a few year old short bed F-150. Love them both dearly, but then again we drive the 45 mpg Metro more often. Kind of like buying carbon credits so we can drive the trucks again…:)

  10. Jenn Says:

    Awwww. Nobody mentioned ‘Mater?
    As in ‘Tow Mater’? (Did you see Cars? Cute movie, all ages. )

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