In a manner of confession, I acknowledge my seriously maudlin tendencies. Tossing a trashed pair of athletic shoes or an old sweatshirt that is barely identifiable as an item of clothing conjures up memories of the miles and smiles we have enjoyed together. It should not be surprising then, that watching a truck leave that has conveyed Tazzy, Sharon and I around the country evokes a similar response. I am also a retired trooper, and troopers develop a relationship with vehicles that follows them to their graves. It is in our DNA.
About 5 years ago, we began to RV around the country. I was skeptical at first, as situating yourself a few feet away from a stranger, in a strange place, is a bit out of my comfort zone. My concern was all for naught, as it turned out to be a hoot and results in meeting people who make you proud of America. We started with a nominal sized trailer, blissful ignorance as to what we were doing and our existing, very capable, Toyota Tundra pickup. I am not writing to evoke an argument over the merits of tow vehicles, but we determined the Tundra, in the howling crosswind we were negotiating on the way home, did not suit our interests. I personally delivered the Tundra to a brother-in-law in sunny South Carolina where it continues to suit his purposes to a “T”. Enter the red BAT, short for “Big Assed Truck”, a RAM turbo diesel with features that to this day I didn’t know it had.
When vehicles enter our stable, I endeavor to see to it they leave in as close to the same condition they were received. The BAT was no exception. Along the way, the BAT reintroduced me to the craftsmanship of the Chrysler Corporation, that I felt had gone the way of the dodo back when I was assigned a Grand Fury that was more noise than go, and equipped with a seat out of a New York taxi cab. When you work an interstate, you quickly ascertain the limitations of your brakes…..and the Grand Fury barely had enough to get you safely halted at a coffee stop. After a thorough investigation and conversations with mechanics, I turned to the BAT. It turned out to be the finest all around truck that I have ever owned, and folks, I have owned an embarrassing number of them.
Recently, I made the acquaintance of a hard working, very real gentleman from Herman, MO., courtesy of Facebook and a mutual friend who happens to house sit for us when we are on the road. Yesterday we met for lunch and talked about our experiences as first responders. It was the perfect opportunity to get the measure of Matt, and I came away feeling certain the BAT, which he was here to take delivery of, was going to a home where it would remain a favorite family member. I suppose as a result of the many miles that Sharon, Tazzy and I have spent seeing America, wrapped in the comfort and power of the BAT, our travels have endeared her to us. Thus the maudlin approach to her leaving for Herman and the custody of Mathew, who happens to also be a skilled mechanic and exacting craftsman.
We have ordered a new RAM that will soon be built by the good folks in Saltillo, Mexico. They say it will take 8 weeks to build. ( Folks who know me know I have infinite patience. I will wait until Monday to find out what the hell they are doing in Saltillo and where my new truck is.) It, like the BAT, has a few options that I can barely spell, but are cleverly hidden in the packages that manufacturers make you take in order to have the stuff you gotta have. We have gone all in on this one, as I am getting to the age where you may have no necessity for another one in the years to come. To that end, I have already named the unborn, soft white turbo RAM “Cirrus” after the soft white colors reminiscent of the cirrus clouds that float over Missouri on a breezy afternoon. When she arrives, I’ll drive over to Herman for another lunch with Matthew and introduce her to her older sibling.
The automobile, in it’s many forms is the heart of America, beginning with those first few solo miles driven by a newly licensed driver. It becomes a reflection of you, your values and a part of your image. With this in mind, I drive RAMs and likely always will….an unashamed fan of the big, thumping Cummins diesel that seldom sees hardship. Many thanks to my mechanic friends who pointed me in the right direction. I will never forget the BAT.
Have a wonderful weekend!