The dirt road short-cut into my little rural community gets a little muddy after a rainstorm. The base of the roadbed is mostly clay, so after it gets soaked up it becomes the kind of stuff that looks like cake mix moistened with motor oil. This stuff is so slick that my pickup doesn't care which end goes first down our old rutted road, which adds lots of driving excitement to an otherwise simple commute.
I sneaked over a few times during some post-rain greasy mud-days last
week, and thought my superior dirt-road driving skill would get me
safely home one more time, but I was wrong, and before long, boy-oh-boy,
was I stuck. I slipped right off the road and got in the glop along the
I didn't want to walk the five miles home very
bad, so I dug the wheels out several times to get ready. When I was
finally ready, I walked home.
My neighbor and buddy, Hal [that would be Hal Cannon],
offered to help me, and we pulled it out the next morning while the mud
was frozen solid. Getting it on the road and going again wasn't such a
big deal, except that about three hundred yards of the road still clung
to my old pickup.
To tell you the truth, I could hardly
recognize it. The front wheels had thrown mud all over the hood and cab,
and the underside looked like something from a low budget swamp-monster
movie. I am an immaculate guy at heart, and I vowed to wash it sometime
It probably wasn't even a week later that I had my
crud-mobile in town, and took it down to the washer-place. I was getting
less compliments on my pickup than usual, plus I was sick of the little
chunks of adobe hitting me in the face, driving along with my head out
the side window like an engineer so I could see.
Down at the
car wash, I decided to use that little wand-sprayer to wet the whole
mess down first, then get the details perfect on a second pass. Well, I
was out of quarters before the mud quit absorbing the water from the
sprayer. Nothing dripped, but the tires got fatter and fatter. I decided
not to use the foaming brush.
Ten dollars in quarters later, I
gave up. Little odd-shaped things underneath kept reflecting flying mud
and spray back in my face, and I couldn't see enough to know what I was
washing. I had hydro-carved big globs out of the insides of the wheels,
off the brakes and frame, scrubbed clear down to the glass on the
windshield. It looked pretty good, I thought. My face, hat, coat and
glasses were so dirty, I couldn't see to tell.
later at twenty miles an hour, my pickup nearly wobbled itself to
pieces. The tires were still out of balance from chunks of overlooked
mud inside the brakes and wheels. I couldn't keep it in the road the way
it was, so I went straight back to the washer-place to try again.
I had to use a different stall, someone was stuck in the one I had just
left. I swear, if you want to get around in this country in the spring,
you should have a four-wheel drive.
This time, with clean
glasses and a joyful heart, I determined to get my pickup perfectly
spotless. I sprayed the heck out of the wheels, the driveline, the trim,
the headlights. I just wouldn't take "dirty" for an answer. "Mr.
Impeccable" was on a roll. It might have been the last ten minutes of a
Rambo movie. All the bad dirt just had to go down.
right about then, I noticed a couple of things about my old Dodge pickup
for the very first time. Like the bumper sticker for a candidate I had
never heard of. Or the little "F250" sign on the fender. The Montana
If, dear reader, by chance you might have
gotten stuck on the dirt road into Starr Valley, Nevada, a couple of
weeks ago, walked off and left a blue Ford with Montana plates and a
"Stuben for Clerk" bumper sticker, and got a white Dodge with a flat bed
and squeaky brakes in exchange for it, I am willing and able to trade
you back. But the Dodge had better be clean.