Where's Your Truck?

IMG_2852.jpg

Pickup trucks and SUV's. They are everywhere out here.

I grew up around trucks. Some of my fondest memories are of driving an early 1980’s era red Ford F-150 through pastures from one pile of wood to the next so we could load up the firewood my dad had cut. We called that truck Big Red (we were incredibly original) and I had to stand at the wheel in order to also be able to operate the pedals. I was probably 11 years old.

In the years since I've operated a series of pickups and full-size work vans both when working for my Dad and later full-size, multiple passenger vans to help our folks with developmental disabilities get from place to place. We've owned a couple of SUV's and pickups over the years. MLW drove a Jeep Cherokee in metallic gold that, it seemed, may have been assembled on a Friday after the drinking had already started on the assembly line. That abomination was replaced by a Nissan Pathfinder that worked much better and stayed with us for a while. I personally owned two separate 1980’s era 4x4 Toyota Pickups - a truck that is functionally (and delightfully) a Jeep Wrangler with a pickup bed. The first was a 1987 model with body parts in various colors and a tailgate with all but the middle "YO" of "Toyota" painted over (I inherited most of these modifications). The second was a truly lovely 1984 model in red that I purchased as a weekend truck for carrying my dog, my bike, my canoe - to facilitate having fun. I later sold it because it sat in the garage every weekend, repeatedly reminding me that I wasnt going out and having any fun (it's possible, in retrospect, that this was not the ideal solution).

Somewhat ironically, and perhaps somewhat typically American of us, we owned all of these vehicles when we lived in Rockford, long before we moved out to the prairie.

Trucks (and SUV's, to a lesser degree) are incredibly versatile vehicles when it comes to carrying stuff. When it comes to carrying people over distances in an efficient, comfortable, and safe manner, however, they are severely lacking. When we moved out to the homestead it was with the understanding that, thanks to a combination of LB's competitive gymnastics and my own work schedule, we'd be on the road quite a bit. When we first moved out MLW was driving a Chevy HHR (which is not a truck no matter how Chevrolet may have tried to market it) and I was piloting a Mini Cooper S.

One of the early victories we gained moving into the country - the ability to put both of our vehicles inside.  

One of the early victories we gained moving into the country - the ability to put both of our vehicles inside.  

The HHR - a versatile vehicle with what are possibly the most uncomfortable front seats ever designed[^1] met an unfortunate early demise about a year after we moved out to the Homestead. It was after that event that the first Honda Fit entered our stables.

Now, I'm kind of a Honda guy. I was an avid reader of Car and Driver Magazine from high school on until the internet reached the point that magazines became largely obsolete, and C&D loved Hondas. I learned why in 1995 when I got a new Civic Si - the car was relatively fast, extremely efficient, handled very well, and could haul a metric ton of your crap because of its hatchback design. It was also very inexpensive to operate, and it ran forever - I finally sold it to a neighbor in 2007, with over 282,000 miles on the clock, and then only because I'd purchased another car. My personal car history also includes a Camaro, a Firebird, a Triumph Spitfire, and a Mini Cooper. The only one on that list I occasionally give serious consideration to buying another example of is the Civic Si.

Given this, when it was time to get something new, the Honda Fit was high on my list. There wasn't (and still isn't, in the U.S. at least) a Civic Si Hatchback any more, but the Fit Sport is, in many ways, the spiritual successor to my old Civic Si. It's almost exactly as fast, very efficient, and much more versatile when it comes to carrying stuff. MLW liked it on the test drive and, to my delight, independently opted for the manual transmission after years of driving automatics. We liked it so much that, when it became clear it was time for the Mini to go, I did an Internet search and got a second Fit.

Anyone who has owned a hatchback knows they can, as a class, carry a lot of stuff relative to their size. This owes to the versatility of the layout - the whole back end of the car opening up, and the ability to fold seats down makes for a lot of room. The Fit goes a step further - the bottom of the rear seat folds up to allow for carrying tall things in the back, in addition to the seat backs folding down. This allows for the transport of all manner of things you'll never get into another car of this size.

That's a pair of 50 gallon garbage cans standing upright in the back of the car...

That's a pair of 50 gallon garbage cans standing upright in the back of the car...

...and this is probably my favorite part - I can carry my bike upright, inside the car, protected from the elements and activities of unscrupulous folk. More often than not I simply leave it in the car - never know when an opportunity to ride will present itself.  

...and this is probably my favorite part - I can carry my bike upright, inside the car, protected from the elements and activities of unscrupulous folk. More often than not I simply leave it in the car - never know when an opportunity to ride will present itself.  

So these are our trucks. MLW actually managed to bring trees home in her Fit last week. I'll grant that there are occasions in which we end up having to borrow a truck - bringing some of the things home from IKEA, for example, or hauling sheets of plywood. But these events are rare, and it would be hard to justify the cost of owning a truck for them alone. And for some of them we've got a roof rack and a trailer system (the latter of which is waiting for me to assemble it) that should address the need.


[^1]: The seats in this thing would cause sharp, shooting pains up the leg within a half-hour of driving the thing, and this got worse the longer one operated the vehicle. I drove this vehicle from Illinois to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and back once for a family trip. I was in excruciating pain for most of that trip. It's like General Motors decided to simply throw out all they, and the rest of the automotive industry, had ever learned about seat design in order to try something exciting and new. To this day I wonder if perhaps they dug up a seat design that Josef Mengele had consulted on.