Whenever I see a late-nineties Ford Ranger, I can’t help but gaze wistfully in its direction and think of my own, Little Green. If the driver fits the description of the most common owner of this vehicle (don’t know why, when or how, but I did come across this fact a while back), he is a middle-aged man … who now thinks I am checking him out.
Yesterday while driving home to Golden from Denver I saw one and shed a tear. Sometimes that happens. While I loved Little Green, she just wasn’t practical in Colorado with her rear-wheel drive. But I sure enjoyed the 6+ years she took me from point A to point B and beyond.
Little Green represents a forgone time in my life. A time when all I owned fit in her bed. When I would toss a backpack and large Tupperware tub in the back and be off to whatever whim of an adventure fit my fancy.
Everything about her spelled out independence.
The used-car dealer didn’t view me as a serious customer when I walked on the lot to check out vehicles. A 20-year-old college coed with no cosigner or assets, just a favor from a roommate to give me a ride to used car lots. After the first test drive I fell in love and not so savvily said, “And I could name her Little Green!” The only negotiation tick in my favor was the unbelievability I’d find a way to pay.
After a go-ahead from a mechanic and a successful trip to the local credit union, I walked back in the sales office ready to wheel and deal. To this day I’ve never seen a more pronounced jaw-drop. “You got financed?” the salesman asked, and by the time he agreed to new tires he grumbled, “I still need to make some money on the deal.”
From then on out it was Little Green and me. She moved me from the college I attended at the time in Illinois to Buena Vista, Colo, where I taught outdoor school. Then east for a newspaper internship in Boston (where I used only one tank of gas during the entire summer because I was used to roads with signs & drivers who stopped at yellow lights, from growing up driving in Oregon and California).
From Boston I packed Little Green up with my worldly belongings to move back west to Boulder, Colo., then to Portland to finish up my undergraduate degree. Though she stayed home during my postgraduate internship at the newspaper in Skagway, Alaska, I knew she waited faithfully for me in my folks’ garage in Oregon.
Sure enough Little Green heeded the call after I scored a reporter job in the Tetons. A year or so later, from Teton Valley, Idaho, she took me back to Portland, and then east to Aspen and then she finally landed in Golden, Colo.
Eventually with regular wintertime trips up to the mountains from Colorado’s Front Range, and lack of passenger ability, I realized it was time to find a new home for Little Green. I sold her to a former mechanic. Music to my ears and tantamount to giving your dog to a ranch where he can run and play all day. (Though the latter to me is tantamount to giving away your child.)
Little Green represents an innocent time. Filled with road trips to Southern California to visit family. A solo overnight backpack in Joshua Tree. From Newport Beach to the Collegiate Peaks, she was my adventure mobile. She was that time in between childhood and adulthood.
The author waving goodbye before heading off in the wee hours of the morning for another of many roadtrips.