The search for the Mahatruck Nov 2017
This journey was a result of having the need for a compatible truck that was in better shape than the existing experiment truck a 1986 Ford Ranger, For the experiment to proceed the quest for this holy grail or golden fleece took place on Craigs list. The winner was in Loma Colorado some 600 miles away. Requests for people to accompany me were a failure, so I decided to go by myself with a homemade tow bar and bring it back as any Ulysses would do.
November 5 A Sunday I leave with no fanfare early in the morning in Verde the amazing 1996 Ford Ranger now with over 250,000 miles and an engine with only 50,000 miles that I installed myself this summer. This vehicle runs on gasoline and propane which I fill myself.
My course is plotted to avoid hills, particularly the Continental Divide. From Hot Springs west to Casper Wyoming and then south across the great divide base which only reach’s some 7,000 feet in elevation. Thru Craig, Meeker and then head west again from Rifle to Loma. I have never been down some of these roads and the new country was enticing.
My first stop is the old town of Jireh Wyoming. All thats left of this once prosperous town is the cornerstone from Jireh University that the town was founded around. Like so many endeavors full of promise in the West this one did not survive the onslaught of economic, environment or political issues that confronted it. I think Josh should have attended that University!!!
Making phenomenal time I passed up Independence Rock, Devils Gate and Meeker Massacre with the promise that I would stop in the return leg. i had forgotten how beautiful Colorado was and how much I missed it. Amazingly I drove the entire 600 miles and got to Grand Junction at dark. This is a feat I did not think I was capable of in my old age!!
I celebrated with the all you can eat buffet Golden Corral. Mostly ribs and mashed potatoes. I of course overate. I selected a budget hotel near the restaurant. This hotel to me seemed more of a flophouse for the unfortunates from the surrounding states that come for the legal marijuana. There was lots of coughing in the parking lot LOL. What a shame these people have to go to a different state to do what they should be able to do in their own home. I felt pride for the the people of Colorado and an economy that is booming as a result of their wise legislation.
Had to wait till the Bank opened to secure cash for the upcoming transaction, then on to Loma. Don was waiting for me having visited on the phone several times and him holding the vehicle for me trusting that I would actually come. Don is of the same ilk as myself, Old hippie vets with common law wife and Libertarian beliefs. We got along instantly. The truck was everything he had told me and we made the transaction. Don and his wife have a house in Mexico where they spend the winters and Shery had already left, Selling the truck was the last thing for Don to do before he headed out. He is a dirt farmer from Illinois and he proudly showed me his new tractor —John Deere of course. Don was recovering from a growth on his petuitary gland. The VA had basically dismissed it till he went to a private Doctor who verified its existence and recommended immediate surgery. After removal it has been healing and he is slowly recovering. We had to remove the bumper to get my tow hitch on. It was a pleasant time, Don made coffee and we talked on so many subjects. We became friends. It was hard to part but the day was passing. He wanted me to call him and tell him i made it home alright, and he really meant it.
I got used to pulling the Mahatruck, sometime it would fishtail me but followed nicely with a maximum speed of 50MPH, much slower on the hills. I actually made good time even on the climb to Meeker. it was hard leaving the 60 degree sunny weather along the Colorado River. The higher i got the cooler and cloudier. i stopped at Meeker the site of the Meeker Massacre. Here in 1878? just a short time after the Battle of the Little Bighorn the Ute tribe had made treaty with the U.S. They loved their ’Shining Mountains” and Their reservation was huge in the Rockies. The place for their Reservation interaction with the U.S. was on the banks of the beautiful White River where Meeker is now. Long story short-and its a long one- The Utes killed Their agent Nathan Meeker and 10 male employees at the reservation, They took his wife, daughter and some other women and over the next 23 days raped them repeatedly. They attacked a relief force and killed 14 more soldiers and wounded many. Finally turning themselves in. For this violation of the Treaty the U.S. ended the treaty. In the succeeding treaty a vast portion of the former reservation was taken away.
On to Craig a coal mining town and heart of the Elk hunting in Colorado. There were many hunters out and the chances of getting a room remote so I headed to the next town of Braggs Wyoming. By the time I pulled into town it was getting dark and snowing hard. I got a room and bought a Hungry Man TV dinner at the store and cooked it the microwave.
I awoke to Fog and cold but the snow had not accumulated and the roads seemed dry so off I went. It got progressively worse with ice on the road, making for a white knuckle drive slow and easy to the interstate and then to Rawlins for a well needed break and senior citizen breakfast at Denny’s!!! The roads even on he interstate were not looking good and I waited to see what would happen. Predictions of sunny weather to the north made my decision and I headed into the Great Divide Basin. They were right and the sun came out and the roads made for wonderful driving.
This is a long lonely road till you get to the Sweetwater river and the route of the Oregon Trail. I stopped at Devils Gap and the site of the infamous Cove where so many Mormon travelers perished of hunger and cold due to their getting a late start for their journey and an early winter. This land is not forgiving in that aspect. Next stop was independence Rock., the half way point on the Oregon/California trail. Here the celebrated the 4th and wrote their names on the rock-today considered graffiti and against the law. Somewhere on this rock I had found what I believed is the name of my ancestor Levi Luallin 1849 on his way to the Gold Rush.
Next was Casper named for Lt Casper Collin’s killed by the Cheyenne and Sioux near the Platte Crossing. His somewhat suicidal mission which no one else would take was to lead an assistance force to aid the wagon train they knew was coming. They also knew the Natives were gathering in huge numbers nearby and in a bad mood after the Sand Creek massacre in Colorado.
Lt Casper’s mistake was when he heard one of his men calling for help as they fled the wave of warriors he went back. He looked more like a porcupine from all the arrows that his body received. Ft Collins Colorado is also named for this very honorable and selfless man.
At this point I felt sure i could make it home tho it would be close to darkness, I do not drive in the dark due to not having lights on the tow vehicle, my night vision and most importantly the crazy amount of wildlife on the road at that time. At Manville I made a poor decision to take the faster route home thru Lance Creek and not to Lusk. By the time I got to Lance Creek it was dark and deer and antelope were everywhere. this is why I always carry a tent and sleeping bag with me!!
Lance Creek is a small town, There is a closed gas station, A Post Office and what appears to be a bar/cafe. I stopped at the Post Office and the door was open to the P.O box area. It was lit and Heated!!!!!!! I walked over to the Bar and the door was open but no one inside. As I was looking at pictures a woman with her granddaughter came in. We visited for awhile and I told her my situation, I asked if maybe I could just sleep on the floor in the bar for the night. She wanted her husband to make the decision so we continued to pleasantly visit about the town. When her husband came in I introduced myself and told him my story and request. His non reply and the awkward silence told me he was very uncomfortable. I relieved it by simply telling him I would sack out in the Post Office. It was going to be bitter cold and I was glad for a warm place to crash, and very tired. One Rancher came in to get his mail and I told him what I was doing. There is absolutely no cell phone or internet in this town and I knew that Rajni would freeek out when she did not hear from me. If another vehicle pulled up I determined to ask them to take my information and call Rajni on a land line to tell her I was alright.
A vehicle did pull up, it was the Sheriff, or a deputy. We visited and I told him what I was doing. He responded that the Post Master had called and did not want anyone sleeping in the lobby. I asked if I could talk to the Post Master and explain my situation but he said no. I asked if he could somehow make contact with my wife and tell her I was alright. He graciously said he could and radioed his dispatch with the information. Randy (his name) reflected on my situation and said if I wanted he would follow me the 27 miles back to Lusk where i could get a hotel. The caviat is he had other obligations of picking up the ballot boxes around the area since it was election night and would not be able to do it for awhile. I said Okay. After he left I waited and waited and then finally made the decision to sleep in my truck. Later on in the night he did show up but still had other places to go. I told him thanks, just go about your duties and I would just spend the night in the truck. It was indeed a cold one.
I got up in the morning and worked on getting my 60 year old bones in motion. 70 more miles and I would be home!! As i was getting ready to leave the Proprietor next door drove up in a truck and cattle trailer. He opened the window and gave me a cup of hot coffee and an old hot dog. He remarked, that i slept in my truck. I told him someone reported me, the the Sheriff demanded that I leave the Post Office. To which he replied it was not him.
I remarked that it was unfortunate that the atmosphere of fear has changed the way we deal with each other. He agreed and then went into a long intense diatribe about the former administration and how he had not liked it. That in Obama he saw it as the reason a lot of it. I asked him if he was a bible reader and he said yes. I referred him to the passage “perfect love drives out fear” He responded positively and asked how can we do that? I told him i don’t know but that he is a good man and thanked him for the coffee and hot dog.
Home to the waiting Mahatma. Always good to be home.