Friday, April 23, 2010

1001 Reasons I love living in Rural America (Part I)

When I drive around my neck of the woods, all is right with the world. My truck looks like every other vehicle on the highway.  In winter, it's brilliant silver luster is covered with a layer of  the white salt and cinders used to melt the ice and give tires traction on the road. It's bed is filled with snow, and a layer of hay encrusted ice.  It's 4 wheel drive hubs are nearly always locked in.  In spring my truck is caked in a layer of mud from driving the dirt roads around my house. The chrome on the front bumper is a grave yard for a million bugs who's lives have ended abruptly.  With summer rains, the truck stays perpetually muddy.  In fall, it's usually got a load of firewood in the back.  What I'm really trying to say here, is that our truck is rarely clean.

Oh sure, we wash it on a weekly basis when the hose thaws out, but the truck is inevitably dirty three days later.  It's no big deal. Everyone's truck looks like this............ until you take a trip to the city. That horrible place filled with freeways of shiny cars.   Cars that live in garages.  Cars that get "detailed" at a car wash for $19.99 every Saturday morning.  Cars that have tires with "Wet Look Shine" sprayed on them. I once sprayed "Wet Look Shine" on my tires. Then I drove down a dirt road that afternoon, and the dust stuck to it and made my wheels look brown for two weeks.

Whenever my family hops in the truck to make the nearly 4 hour drive to the city (potty breaks included), we tarp down our luggage, put the dogs in the back so they can feel the wind on their tongues, and throw in an ice chest or two so we can load up on groceries at Sam's Club.  We usually listen to a "Hank the Cowdog" audio book, and enjoy the countryside.  Then we hit the edge of the city, and the congestion starts to worsen. We merge on to the freeway and we start to feel uneasy. Everyone seems to be staring at our muddy, bug encrusted truck.  Now I'm feeling like the Clampett's with our tarped down luggage.  We exit the freeway and drive the side streets.  Our dogs start to bark at a man on a ten speed wearing biker shorts and a tank top. They lunge at him from the back of the truck as my husband speeds by.  Startled, the biker almost wrecks, but makes a nice recovery. I duck instinctively, and tell my husband to "gun it".  The kids are laughing hysterically in the back seat.  Since the weather is 40 degrees warmer than at home, my kids unroll the back windows.  They squeal with delight at the warm air blowing their hair around.  At a red light, my 8 year old son puts on his dad's sun glasses and flashes a peace sign at a guy sitting on a Harley. I'm afraid we're gonna get shot.  By this time the man on the bicycle has caught up to us waiting for the light to change.   It's green.  We step on the gas to put some distance between us and the Harley man  that we shared an awkward moment with.  Our big diesel engine sends out a cloud of black smoke through the tail pipe aimed directly at the bicyclist on the right. I see him choking in the rear view mirror. This is just a small glimpse of the embarrassment we endure.  Every parking space at the mall is  made for a  "compact car" so we take up three of them for our 4 door, long bed truck.  People flip us off and circle the parking lot.  If anyone is brave enough to park next to us, the dogs bark at them, and they are afraid to get out of their car.  They back out and find another location. 

After half a day, we drop the dogs off at my parent's house, and my husband makes a bee-line for the car wash.  But you know what? Having a shiny clean truck somehow doesn't make us feel any better. If it's not our truck, than it's our other differences that stick out. My kids realize that city kids don't wear Wranglers, and suddenly my Wal-mart sunglasses aren't cool.  Everyone is staring at my rhinestone and cowhide purse, and my husband's camouflage Cabela's cap is no longer as stylish.  We're ready to go home.

As we travel back up the mountain, our truck gets loaded with splattered bugs. Once again, our tires kick up mud on the doors, and we start to feel at ease.  We get home, start a fire in the wood stove, unload the dogs and groceries, and rest our weary bones from the hectic pace of a weekend in the city.  The next day, we throw on our Carhartts, take a trip to Wal-mart, park beside the dozens of other trucks that look just like ours, say hello to at least 10 people we know, and I squeeze my husband's hand. "It's good to be home", I say. It's good to be home, indeed.

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