Monday, January 2, 2012

Trucked Again

In the early 90's Keith needed to replace the Toyota Tercel he'd driven from Massachusetts to Arizona. Knowing how useful it would be to have a truck, I urged him to get one. He wasn't keen on the idea. "Why don't you get a truck?" he responded. I couldn't think of a good reason not to, so I did. I found a 1987 Nissan pick up, beige, with a campershell. It had super low mileage because its first owners used it only for weekend camping. Anticipating adventure, I named it Yachimata Hiko for the Japanese god of innumerable roads.

Yachi doing what Yachi did best: roadtrip!!!

Yachi earned its name. I drove it for daily commutes to work; memorable roadtrips: San Francisco, Sedona, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Montezuma's Castle, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, and the more obscure corners of Arizona like the Bouse Intaglio and the Congress Frog; and to get to a new home in Maine. Much less pleasantly I also experienced a freeway-speed blow-out, sliding into a guardrail on the ice, mechanics who didn't know their asses from their elbows, and the trip to Maine was made with a dog and four truculent cats!
Almost 20 years and over 300,000 miles passed, taking their toll. A recurring oil problem became multiple leaks requiring either an engine replacement or a whole truck replacement. Sadly, I faced facts and began looking around both locally and on Craigslist. Yachi must have wanted to make the split easier for me: leaving a friends' house one night the battery light went on and we lost our brakes! We were able to pull over to the shoulder and coast to a stop without difficulty, but had to be towed home as there was no trusting Yachi's drivability after that. Rotaries and hilly roads at night?! No. Just no.
The next day Keith drove me to Portland for a second look at a truck I was considering. It's a 2001 Chevy S-10, white, with a campershell plus a remote starter and a full additional set of wheels and tires. It had high mileage, but seemed in good shape. I wanted to be sure so I made an appointment to take it to the one garage that was open on a Sunday: Sears. They looked it over and pronounced it a good deal with only rusty brake lines to whittle down the asked for price. Legal tender crossed palms, and I was again mobile!
With winter fast approaching I wanted everything to be tight and ready for bad road conditions, so I took the new truck in to my local mechanic, Leo. Keith & I like him because he's proven himself to be assute, skillful, accomodating, affordable, and personable. He was also very thorough in busting Sears inspection: the rear brakes were shot with the emergency brake fused in place. He fixed it, but that was money I could have saved by negociating down the price. DON'T TAKE YOUR VEHICLE TO SEARS!!!

Keith suggested the name Blitzen because of its rack and the fact that I bought it close to Xmas. I took it hoping that after the brake fiasco lightning wouldn't strike twice!

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