A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had become the proud owner of a Dodge Ram pickup truck. I'm really not very knowledgeable about vehicles, so I can't tell you exactly which flavor it is, but it's a honking great big one with a large extended cab and four doors (maybe if you look at the picture below you can tell me what sort it is).
Truth to tell, I wasn’t looking for any form of vehicle. I used to have a Nissan Xterra, which I really liked, but about four years ago the air conditioning broke down and I was told that it could cost anything up to $3,000 to fix it. Personally, I would have been happy driving around with the windows down, but it was the summer (which is jolly hot in Alabama) and my mother was coming over to visit in a few weeks’ time, so I traded my Xterra for a Kia Spectra.
Thus, for the last four years I’ve been enjoying really good gas mileage and relatively small bills at the pump… until a couple of weeks ago when I agreed to spend a Saturday with a friend who was hunting for a truck, and who had seen a good deal on a Dodge Ram.
As it turned out, my friend opted for another vehicle, but I decided that the Ram was just too good a deal to pass up. It's a 2006 model that looks like new with only 55,000 miles on the clock. Before I purchased it, a mechanic friend put it up on the rack and ran it through his diagnostic computers and pronounced it to be A-OK.
My truck parked downtown while I sorted out the tag
The amazing thing was the price tag, which was only $12,100. Comparing this to equivalent vehicles on the web, I realized that if I wanted to I could turn around and resell it for more than I paid for it … and how often have you been able to say that when you’ve just bought a vehicle? Even better, I financed it through the Redstone Federal Credit Union
, and for only $1,500 (added to the loan and spread over the life of the loan) I got a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty for four years or 48,000 miles … whichever comes first.
On the one hand, I have to admit that my eyes do water a little when I fill the truck up with gas (the Kia has spoiled me). On the other hand, driving the Kia is a bit like being a small kid standing behind adults at a parade – you end up jumping up and down desperately wanting to know what’s going on, but you can’t see anything. By comparison, when I climb up into my truck, I feel like I am the ruler of all I survey and “The world is my lobster”
(or some other crustacean of your choice).
One of my old catch-lines when I’d successfully guided us (myself and my wife – “Gina The Gorgeous”
) to our destination was “Just call me ‘Tracker Max’”
. More recently, I assumed my “Max The Magnificent”
moniker. (What can I say? If you’ve got it, flaunt it :-) So now I’m in a bit of a quandary. Which sounds better: “Tracker Trucker Max”
or “Trucker Tracker Max”
Would it be a tad pretentious to include “The Magnificent”
in there somewhere? How about I lose the “The”
and opt for the somewhat simpler “Magnificent Tracker Trucker Max”
. But then I think to myself: “Suppose I’m invited to a ball and the doorman wants to introduce me in loud, strident tones?"
You have to admit that “Tracker Trucker Max The Magnificent”
does have a certain “je ne sais quoi” to it…
But we digress…
Although gas is expensive, and although my truck certainly doesn’t get the same gas mileage as the Kia, most of the time I travel only 10 miles to my office in the morning and 10 miles back again in the evening – I wouldn't use the truck for long journeys (except in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse
, in which case all bets are off :-)
The thing is that today was the first day of spring. This is one time of the year that Gina gets the urge to plant a lot of flowers and "stuff" (we go through the same thing in the autumn). Sad to relate, we can't use Gina's car because she's a realtor and uses it to ferry people around (that's her excuse) – so a couple of times each year we go down to a nursery about 10 miles away and she orders a bunch of stuff – then I spend the rest of the weekend driving back and forth transporting it all for her (you can only move a limited amount on each run in a Kia). Now I can move the world!!!
The bottom line is that I am currently trucking around (pun intended) with a happy smile on my face. One thing I discovered when I went to get my tag and was parallel parking (see the image above) is that it’s really difficult when you are reversing to judge how close you are to the car behind you. In fact, I had to keep on getting out of the truck and walking back to see how well I was doing. As you can imagine, this makes one look like a bit of a drongo.
Fortunately, my friend Freddie Louis (freddielouis.com
) runs an Auto Accessories business where his high-tech team installs everything from sunroofs to audio and video systems, and custom wheels to backup warning systems. Thus, in addition to a spray-on bed-liner, Freddy is going to install a backup camera for me, which will allow me to reverse my truck like a professional.
The camera itself fits into the frame that holds the tag plate. I was a little worried that I would have to have a small monitor screen sitting on my dashboard, but it turns out that this display is actually located in a special rear-view mirror that replaces your existing mirror. As soon as you put your vehicle into reverse, half of the mirror turns into a screen showing what’s behind you.
If this is as good as I think it’s going to be, I may be tempted to install one in Gina’s car. This is not that I’m in any way implying that on multiple occasions she’s reversed out of our garage into the basketball post (I’m saying it outright [grin]). I’ll be writing more about this little beauty (the backup camera, not Gina) once it’s been installed…
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