It was a hot, dusty summer afternoon; my brother and I were having the time of our life as we sailed through the air in my little 1989 Ford Ranger.
The windows were down, the wind was whipping all around us, the engine was roaring (it was actually a little louder than usual, thanks to a hole in the muffler), and for a split second we were actually floating — totally weightless in the cab.
Yep, at that moment, life was good.
When we landed on the other side of the railroad tracks, life was NOT good.
The suspension buckled and we slammed down hard! I’m pretty sure my hands were knocked off the steering wheel, but honestly, I don’t remember all the specific details. The whole thing was all kind of a blur.
The only thing I know for certain is that we almost flew off the dirt road and into a ditch.
(And I also know for certain that jumping a truck is a bad idea!)
I learned a lot of lessons from that little pickup truck…
But let’s take a step back, shall we?
First of all, this wasn’t just some random old Ford Ranger. It was my first vehicle, purchased from my uncle for one dollar, nearly 13 years ago — and it was practically a member of the family.
He even had a name, which, in case you were wondering, was “Mushu.”
We named him after the dragon in Disney’s Mulan (because he’s travel-size for your convenience).
Another valuable lesson I learned from Mushu was that no matter how bad things may seem, you really ought to just take a deep breathe and look for the good in a situation.
I heard a quote today in church that the only difference between a “tragedy” and a “comedy” is just a little time.
Kinda like that fateful January night about 7 or 8 years ago…
My brother, my sister, and I decided to take Mushu out “mudding” by the old frog pond, and somehow, in a matter of mere seconds, I had that thing stuck clear up to the axles!
Totally mired before we even really got into it!
After maybe 15 or 20 minutes of fighting a losing battle in the mud — during which time my brother “ruined” his new shoes (I’m still not sure if he’s forgiven me for that), and my sister nearly burned up the clutch (which had just been replaced 3 or 4 months earlier) — we decided to call in the big guns, a.k.a. Dad with his 3/4-ton Chevy.
At the time, I was embarrassed, tired, wet, cold, frustrated.
You get the picture. Zero fun.
But now, after a little time has passed, it’s one of my fondest memories with Mushu. In fact, we still chuckle about it when the story comes up around the campfire.
We laugh about how we buried 2 or 3 slabs of concrete in the mud as we tried to jack it up. We laugh about the squelching sound it made coming out of the quagmire, kinda like a boot being pulled out of the mud.
The point is, sooner or later you’ll probably look back at things and laugh, so why not laugh about it now? Why not look for the good and enjoy the adventure?
Wisdom from Mushu. 😉
I wish I could tell you all the stories that are wrapped up in that little Ranger — all the memories.
I wish you could see how beautiful the stars are, as you’re sleeping in the bed of that truck on a crisp October night. I’d love for you to experience just how cramped and uncomfortable it can be, trying to sleep in the cab during a rainy archery hunt. And speaking of cramped, try fitting three people in the front seat, all the way to the China Meadows Trailhead!
Over the years, four of the funniest, bravest, and most loyal dogs you’ll ever know have hung their heads and floppy tongues out of Mushu’s windows. And I bet you wouldn’t have to look very hard to find some of their short white and brown hairs still embedded in the carpet and upholstery (no matter how much I vacuum it out).
Along with those hairs, you’ll probably also find at least a dozen pennies, possibly a nickel, and if you’re really lucky, you might find a dime and/or a screwdriver. Because, y’know, those things just sort of accumulate in a truck like Mushu…
Which reminds me, have you ever tried penny-surfing? You’ll have to ask my brother or my wife about it sometime. It’s a great way to pass time on a road trip, especially if you don’t have A/C in your vehicle.
Looking back on my years with Mushu, I’m kinda surprised at all the family-bonding time I had with him… All the screamo rock concerts with my little sister, driving through the canyon; all the hours spent “wrenching” with my dad; all the mildly-bad-ideas and harebrained schemes that came about with my younger brother (i.e. jumping railroad tracks, spinning donuts in the church parking lot, egging street signs, and general horseplay).
And I’ll always remember that autumn when Lindsey learned to drive with a manual transmission.
Nearly every day after work, I would grab my bow and arrows (because it was right in the middle of the deer hunt), and the two of us would load up in Mushu and head over to Right Hand Fork.
As soon as we were off the main highway, we’d stop, switch seats, and then Lindsey would drive us around on whichever mountain road caught our fancy.
We’d usually drive until dark.
I spent most of the time relaxing and looking for deer — Lindsey spent most of the time stressing out about the clutch. 😉
On a totally unrelated note, Mushu also had a way of amplifying music.
I’m not talking so much about the volume or the bass; the sound system definitely wasn’t anything special.
Mushu just had a way of amplifying the experience of the music itself.
Sometimes it was the aforementioned screamo music with my sister, sometimes it was classical compositions by Bach, Mozart, or Vivaldi that I’d listen to during my “lunch-time naps” (while working swing shift at Autoliv). C.W. McCall’s trucker music during the elk hunt was always a favorite — and Garth Brooks, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Linkin Park were always a welcomed treat.
There was also a memorable Saturday morning spent driving slowly around the streets of Brigham, blaring “Eye of the Tiger” with the windows rolled down as my brother and I collected donations for the local “Scouting-for-Food” drive…
What’s that, you say?
Why am I getting all reminiscent on you?
Well, we ended up selling Mushu a couple of days ago. I said my goodbyes and handed over the title — and with it, a little piece of my heart. It was definitely a sad day in the Lott household.
It’s always hard to give up a friend like Mushu. But in doing so, I learned something; one last nugget of Wisdom from Mushu, if you will:
Mushu taught me that sometimes goodbyes are actually a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong though, it’s definitely hard to say goodbye. In the wise words of Gandalf, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” But in all honesty, I’ve really enjoyed reminiscing about the good times with Mushu. Goodbyes have a way of increasing your appreciation.
I’ll end this behemoth of a blog post with a quote from C.W. McCall:
Life is just a collection of memories. And memories are like starlight, they go on forever…