I arrived in California riding in a dented '82 Toyota Celica that later became affectionately known as The Black Eye, because of the permanent damage by an accident a few months earlier that could only be somewhat straightened by tying the car's bumper to a tree, dropping the transmission into reverse, and ... well, let's just say that it was a simple solution for a simpler time. I drove across the country in that car, along with two friends in the back, and a yellow lab that lied on the floor where the front passenger soeat used to be.
That dog didn't take to the summer heat in the Arizona desert very well and neither did the A/C, which forced us to roll down the windows to get some air. The poor pooch drooled so much in the heat that the hot wind blowing into the car flung the dog's phlegm upon the unfortunate soul sitting directly behind him. We each took turns sitting behind the dog, wearing a mucous-soaked towel over our heads.
Fifteen years later, I have decided to head in the opposite direction. I'm moving to Texas. After living most of my adult life on the Left Coast, I'll be a blue pixel on Texas' red-state landscape, an organic-eating oasis of laid-back serenity in a land of swagger, an ambassador of the Bear Republic to the Republic of Texas-that is, until I go native and prop my cowboy boots up onto the coffee table and wash down hot Tex-Mex chili with a cold Lone Star while watching a football game (Go Cowboys!). And I do love that pecan pie (that's "puh-CON" for you non-Texans).
My journey East will be in an orange and white '93 Ford Ranger that used to resemble the black eye, but is now, finally, attaining the beginnings of a custom look. Riding along will be the smiling woman of my dreams, a hula girl gyrating upon my dash, and a motorcycle tied into the bed. We'll see if we're still smiling after 1,500 miles of road food, counting cows, and playing car bingo-or if the truck is still running, or the hula girl's rapidly shedding grass skirt keeps her spring-loaded modesty intact. Regardless of what happens, this should be a fun trip. At least the journey won't be as, uh, moist as the West-bound trip years ago.
I won't be working for Truckin' anymore, but you might see my byline pop up in the magazine, or you might not. If you happen to bump into a guy in Texas wearing a Truckin' shirt during the off-season when there are no shows and customizers haven't finished sleeping off the excesses of the SEMA show, then, no, a Truckin' staffer didn't get lost on his way home for the holidays. It might just be me-wearing the pinstripes and logos of the best truck magazine in the world that is put together by the best staff in the business-during a casual Friday at the new job or to fly the old colors while I explore my new home of Texas.
Editor's Note: No one is happier for Mark than the four guys at Truckin', who have been fortunate enough to call him a friend, co-worker, and partner in crime. Havasu, we wish you the best, sir. - Dan Ward