I retired my 2004 Ford Ranger in November of 2015. I now traverse Colorado in my Tacoma, but I’ll always have fond memories of my first truck. This is an ode – albeit far too brief – to the decade-long partnership we shared together.
There were our times bouncing through the red rock canyons of southern Utah, the mishap where I almost flooded the engine trying to make it up to the Never Summers (I promise to tell that story at a later date), and the 4×4 folly where I smashed in the Ranger’s tailpipe gunning it over boulders a tricked-out Wrangler probably couldn’t handle. But it is my old homemade truck camper that I’ll remember the most.
Let’s begin with the topper. The year was 2006. I was broke and eking my way through law school. I really wanted a topper for my truck, but the bank account was nearly depleted. I scoured Craigslist day and night for well over a month when I saw the “Futura.” There she was in all of her glory waiting for me in Severence, Colorado. And she was just $50. Sure the Futura was probably older than me – but the price was right, Bob!
Liz and I tore out from Louisville where we were living at the time, eager to find our future with the Futura. Severance was no stranger to me. I had a lot of family in nearby Greeley, Eaton, and Ault. But I didn’t realize just how strange Severence can be. People of Severence, please take no offense to this comment. It’s good to be unique.
I followed my printed out Mapquest instructions to the driveway of a small farm. (I definitely couldn’t afford a smartphone at the time.) I slowly made my way to the stretched out ranch style home. There she was sitting right before my eyes. But wait, what was that moving beneath her? Were they…why yes they were…small goats sheltering under Futura’s wings. The topper was resting up on small logs. It was lifted up just enough for my seller’s goats to find refuge underneath.
This goat-home surprise still didn’t deter me from my mission. I paid the old man who slinked out of the house every last cent of that $50 and was happy as a clam to marry it to the bed of my Ranger. Four c-clamps formed the bond, and back to Louisville Liz and I went.
As soon as we got home, I sterilized the hell out of the inside to remove the goat scum. Thank god for pressure sprayers, windex, and 409! But there was always a faint smell of the farm within the confines of the Futura.
What do you do when you don’t want to study for law school finals? You spend all of your time designing and constructing the perfect nomad vehicle for Colorado. I meticulously and laboriously spent the latter half of November and first portion of December sawing, chiseling, and hammering away at my newest creation. Built entirely of wood, my old homemade truck camper withstood a beating and the full test of time.
Liz and I spent countless nights sleeping in the back of the truck. We bounced around Colorado’s mountains and plains during the day and slept inside the camper at night. We stashed our food and other supplies under the raised bed in long, narrow Tupperware containers that could easily be pulled out. But it was our two best friends, our pups Arrow and Emma, who loved the back of the truck the most. The slightly deteriorated futon mattress in the back saw countless hours of human and canine sleep alike.
R.I.P. Ford Ranger and R.I.P Arrow (aka “Mr. Man”). Emma, Liz, and I think about you fondly and often.