Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Journalists

Writing is important to Marketeers, even retired ones like me. So whether it's a script, truck review or letter of recommendation, writing ist Alles. Thus, when I realized I was in the company of professionals, I was a tad awestruck.

It'd been drizzling on and off all day on our way to The Expo (see prev post) so when Eggbert veered off the Forest Rd and started cross-country toward the big pine, I knowed whut he whar thinkin'...overhanging limbs'd provide some cover.

The road was fine as we came in, but I tho't we might need some additional shelter for making breakfast, so I added the tarp. And then, as the light began to dim, I watched (incredulated!!) as the drizzle turned to large, white flakes.

Now, I know for you folks from Cleveland Heights this is nothing. But here in the land of viscous, lube-like clay, it can be, as they say, problematic.

But if you have the time, enough water and food, and it lets up, it'll usually dry out by the end of the day, definitely by the next. But when it's wet, it's often impassable, even with four wheel drive.

It rained/snowed all night. Eager to get to The Expo, I skipped breakfast, chugged some coffee, packed and, without checking the road, roared off. Twenty feet later I was stuck.

It was early and so far no one had gone by. I decided to walk. I mean, what the hell, it was maybe three miles. And I needed the exercise.

As I headed toward the road, a truck hove into view. I raised a thumb but was still surprised when they turned onto the side road to my camp. They wallowed through the six-inch-deep puddle by the cattle guard, slewing a bit as they came out the near side. I watched as the tires cut inch-deep gouges into the formerly smooth surface of my "driveway." To forestall further damage, I ran to meet them. (At 5:28 in this video is what the puddle was like.)

It was a family out sightseeing in their spanking new, not-even-two-hundred-miles-on-the-odometer, ride. I described The Expo and as I clambered aboard, Grandpa cautioned me to "Be careful and don't scratch the paint!" But when they stopped at the bottom of the hill to let me out, they seemed kinda concerned. I, having hitch-hiked around the country in my youth, knew it'd be alright. But I'd barely gone 50 feet when they pulled up alongside and said they'd decided to go too. I climbed back into the bed.

We soon arrived and after thanks and farewells, parted ways. I was mightily grateful....the ride got me there far ahead of the 8,000 expected. And though there were already quite a few, I surmised the majority, still to come, were probly still leisurely hunkered over their coffee.

After a couple of hours I'd had enough and started homeward. As I strolled past the long line of recent arrivals waiting to park, I began to think about how I hadn't brought any water and how, now, at age 63, after several months of only brief escapes from city life  -- my partner's mother is dying and I'm supervising her care including three caregivers, several hospice nurses, and various other duties associated with her recent enrollment in the medical cannabis program -- I'm in pretty bad shape. After less than half a mile, I noticed the beginnings of a blister. Still, the sun was shining and my thumb was waggling like it was still the '60s and hitch-hiking was second nature. I figured somebody'd stop eventually.

Then it happened...a shiny red truck with three guys. As one leaped out and began making room inside, the driver started grilling me about my destination. Allllriiiigghtttt!!!

Exchanging pleasantries, they alleged they were journalists. And not just ANY, but with the most prestigious periodicals on the rack!! I figured they were bullshitting. I mean, everyone KNOWS those kinda people have deadlines; they don't have TIME to pick up hitch-hikers. Hearing my skepticism, they pulled out business cards. I had to pause for a moment of awe (see first paragraph).

Now, if'n you ain't poured yerse'f a beer or martini, nowz the time. This he'ar yarn's jus' gittin' started so iffin yer gettin' bored, ya'll mite wanna call hit quits wha'l yer ahed.

So here we are back at the first paragraph. I'm blown away at my luck and trying to pick which question to start with (demographics, psychographics!!). But before I can fire my first salvo they start asking ME questions. So we're going along and I'm telling 'em about the mud and, figuring they had planes to catch, as we approached the Forest Rd turnoff I tried to help by encouraging them to let me off at the bottom of the hill. It'd been sunny all day and had dried out some, but I suspected it might still be slick. And it ain't easy to get off neither.

They insisted on driving me to my doorstep where, after fording the aforementioned puddle, the tread quickly loaded up and, with wheels still turning, we came to a standstill. Andrew, (ONLY because they're much younger can I use first names) deftly pressed the button to shift into 4 whl and we once again began forward motion. We're talking less than 100 feet here and mud gouges, which we were adding to, can last for millennia. After another 50 feet I asked them to stop.

Still thinking they were time-bound, I clambered out expressing gratitude and doing all I could to let 'em know they'd done more than was imagined. But they got out, hung around, tasted the great beer I'd discovered a few days earlier in Payson and generally behaved like normal people!

I knew no one'd believe me and was, again, surprised when they readily agreed to stand for a photo. From left to right....Andrew Collins of Jalopnik and Truck, Yeah, Scott Evans of  Motor Trend and Zach Bowman of  Road & Track.

A couple of days later I was checking the "stats" on the blog and noticed there'd been over 5,500 hits. Usual  traffic is 40-90 (per day). After several double-takes, I figured I'd been hacked. Further investigation revealed the hits were coming from a site called Jalopnik\TruckYeah. I sortuh remembered Andrew saying something about writing for an online publication and after clicking on the URL found myself looking at an article!!! Holy friggin' catheads!!

It's both proof of his readers' discernment and a tribute to Andrew that in the space of less than four hours I had more hits than in the five years since I began blogging. And as I read the article I could see why. Even biased as I am, his ability to convey the nuances of our meeting was impressive.

As they turned to leave one of 'em commented, "Well, we gotta take care of each other." And as I raise a glass to all three, my rejoinder is, "Truck, Yeah!" ...and once again, Thank You!


Anonymous said...

Cleveland Heights, eh? Fellow Clevelander here - you missed a heck of a winter! I just found your blog based on that post by Andrew, and love it. Would love to do the same thing when I retire. Godspeed!

MFH said...

Dear Anonymous,

I can't claim to be a true-blue Clevelander, but I'm experienced. I spent a couple of winters there in my late teens and learned that I am, in fact, a warm-weather kinda guy. I've been traveling in the Metro for five years and am enjoying it tremendously. I had a van I used the first two winters, but it didn't get the mileage so we (partner Michelle Cook & I) gave it to a homeless friend. (see post for: 11/22/14) Suzan has been happier than a bug inna rug and travels throughout the SW. Thanks for stopping by!

Jerry Nichols said...

Man that's pretty cool, doing what you want to do with life. I'll send a few prayers your way. Keep doing what your doin

Jerry Nichols said...

Man that's pretty cool, doing what you want to do with life. I'll send a few prayers your way. Keep doing what your doin

MFH said...

Thanks Jerry. Even as a devout agnostic I appreciate other's efforts. And yeah, it took a while to realize the dream. I started working as a landscaping laborer at age fifteen. Started college at 33. But we never had children, except our cats, have always driven small cars (I bought the metro in 2004 for $1,700.00) and never developed any expensive habits.

Anonymous said...

94 and 92 geo Metro . As long as the mud or snow don't lift the front end, it keeps going! Most Reliable small car on OR OFF ROAD since the Datsun B210! Ya I off-roaded in one of those too!
Dave in Canada.

MFH said...

Dave, I drove Datsun B210s until I got the Geo. Mine is/was a '99. 219,000 miles and nothing more than routine maintenance. Not burning a drop of oil, but 2nd gear was getting hard to downshift into. New clutch last month didn't help. Was getting a consistent 40 mpg off-road, as much as 47 highway with Cooper ST/2 snowtires...additional traction off-roading. Where are you in Canada? I have a girlfriend near Whitehorse.