Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snort'n Nort'n

Three Dodge work trucks at our first Wyoming home. Snort'n Nort'n is on the left in his original appearance.  The red Dodge for a number of years served as "my" truck and the "Go to Meeting" vehicle. The green one in front of the garage was with us for about 2 years--purchased when a beloved Chevy blew its engine laboring over South Pass. I enjoyed the green Dodge--a five speed standard which would really move. The transmission was if-y when we bought it and before we had it replaced the truck was down to three forward gears plus reverse--a mite challenging.

Nort'n waits in the snow.

In the spring of '08 J. decided that Snort'n Nort'n was due for a makeover. The pickup bed had been thumped and dented, the original grill had encountered a deer in the road, and the old truck was starting to look its age of 16 years. Here Nort'n shows off a diamond-plate flat-bed, headache rack, rear cargo lights, stainless steel storage boxes. He also acquired a "gooseneck pin" for hauling trailers and a "jake brake." Tasteful finery includes the Dodge Ram hood ornament, a visor and dressy wheels.

Nort'n's new "buck proof" grill with driving lights. Nort'n, according to J, can out-pull a newer V-8. He has been used to "drag" trailers loaded with the Sky Trak or a bulldozer or concrete forms or logs and lumber.

J. and Nort'n headed out.
J. has always loved trucks.  In our 46 years of marriage he has owned a succession of farm trucks, log trucks, semi's, and pick up trucks. Only one, a Kenworth road "tractor" was bought new. Each of these vehicles, he would tell you, has had a distinct personality and memorable characteristics, desirable or
When Dodge produced their first Cummins diesel pickups in the early 90's J. looked at them with longing. He test drove several, considered the options, but always we concluded that the cost was more than we wanted to take on in debt.  So, we continued to drive Chevy trucks--"his and hers."
In the frigid January of '01 our son, H. phoned one day to tell J. that an old fellow over the mountain was trading in his 92 Dodge diesel for a new model. J. had stoutly maintained that the earlier trucks had many advantages over the new ones and the 92 remained his Dodge of choice. He made a call to the dealership in Big Piney and we headed over South Pass early the next morning.  The deal was made and J. drove his diesel home while I followed carefully in the red Chevy. For those who like to know such things, the blue truck has a 6 cylinder Cummins engine rated for 162 horse power, although that has since been tweaked.

It was clear from the first that this was a truck with personality and charm.  Our cat, Raisin, quickly learned to detect the sound of J.'s approach toward home each evening, although we lived on a road that crawled with diesel pickups. She listened nightly for that truck, stationing herself on the hallway stairs. By the time I heard the truck, J. was down-shifting for the driveway and Raisin had her nose pressed to the glass of the front door in welcome.

I forget just when the "blue Dodge" became "Snort'n Nort'n". Grandson D. may have been involved in the naming when he paid a visit to Wyoming.  When a vehicle is kept for many years, it becomes almost as much part of the family as a horse and like the horse, is called affectionately by name. 

I pride myself on being able to clamber into most any truck which my husband or son have owned and take it down the road or over the mountain.  Something about the blat and snarl of those engines, the length of the shining hood, the reassurance of 4 wheel drive, brings out the latent road runner.

Old Nort'n, however, is not particularly woman-friendly.  The original bench seat was stuck in the position which best accomodated drivers six feet tall. When required to drive, I rummaged out J.'s spare jackets from behind the seat, rolled them and stuffed them behind me to get me enough forward to reach the clutch and brake. The 5 speed stick shift takes some persuasion, and in those early years I wrapped my left arm around the steering wheel, braced a knee against the steering column, double-clutched and threw my right shoulder into the shifting process. Nort'n has since acquired an electric seat which can at least be powered forward for those of lesser height.

Its been months since I drove Nort'n, but J. poked his head in this morning to announce that he was taking one of the "for sale"motor homes into town to have a frost-shattered window replaced and I would need to follow him.  He planned to pick up doors at the lumber yard, the red Dodge is encumbered with the water tank, so I hauled myself into Nort'n's dusty cab, shuffled the seat as far forward as it would go, put him in gear and headed to town, enjoying the familiar roar of the steady old engine.

J. comes from a long line of "wheeler dealers." Trucks and tractors, back hoes, bulldozers, campers, 4-wheelers, snowmobiles come and go in bewildering trades.  Old Snort'n Nort'n, like our elderly Pebbles horse, will go where we go, til he can go no more.


  1. I know what you mean about vehicles being with you so long they develop a personality and you get fond of them. We were really quite sad when the old red bus bit the dust last year, courtesy of the MoT garage who blew the big end for us when revving it up cold . . . We haven't quite brought ourselves to call in the scrap man to tow her away but that will have to happen soon - we need to sell the wheelchair hoist first though - so that's something else I REALLY must get around to sorting out . . .

    As for 46 years wed - you must have been a child bride my dear!

  2. Remember the Zephyrs? I have never written about them - only about the 9N tractor.I will have to give this thought as these things on four wheels seem to have been a big part of life.

  3. Zephyr: As former Vermonters our paths may have crossed--I can't access your blog or profile, so unless you tell me who you are, I'll have to wonder how you landed here! I associate "Zephyr" with Lincoln automobiles.

  4. BB; Not quite in the category of Child Bride, although a young one--married at 19 and a few months and a mother just before my 21st birthday a year and a half later. We've weathered many storms and now toddling toward retirement "togetherness."

  5. Wow! You drive a five speed stick shift truck?? You must be a tough lady!
    Having been married for 50 years, I qualify to give you advice, don't I? I think it gets easier as you get older. You have hopefully learned how to tip-toe around certain topics, as has he and now you know where you mesh better. But retirement brings its own challenges. My husband thinks he knows better than I do what to put out first on the register counter at the grocery store. I say fruit first, he says the opposite. (We both have our reasons). I say just let ME do the shopping.

  6. P.S. I still think your cats' photos are the most enchanting part of your blogs -- well, no, your writing may not be far behind...