Left: About to put chains on my B2200, just north of Mt. Shasta. Right: Mazda & Reanna, Indian Cove, CA.

My Mazda B2200 pickup was first sold the year I started driving, 1988. I bought the truck from my girlfriend’s dad in 1992 for $3,800, with about 80,000 miles on it. It was my second vehicle, after a 1979 Honda Civic that went through two engines in three years. It wasn’t a great deal but I thought it was a good vehicle after driving it off and on for six months. Nineteen years later I can say that it was a good buy.

Now it has 254,566 miles on it, total, and is 83,857 miles into its second engine. It just pulled a load that weighed over 4,235 pounds for 1,112 miles – from Eugene to Joshua Tree – including the highest pass on the I-5 and several other passes. I never even had to go into first gear to get up those grades. In fact, it made the entire trip with no problem at all. (I don’t recommend pulling 4,000 pounds with your B2200, by the way. It’s only rated for 1,000 pounds of cargo, passengers included. It’s basically a station wagon in the shape of a pickup. But we did make it!) It was a slow trip, though. We were surprised to pass a tractor-trailer on a hill just south of Eugene, so we started a tally of vehicles passed:

Tally of Moving Vehicles Passed Between October 30 and December 4, 2011. (That driver passed us back as soon as we started downhill.)

My B2200 gets between 15 (around town) and 27 (on the highway, no stops, downhill, with a tail wind) miles per gallon. That’s 350 miles to the tank. I average about 22 mpg over a year of driving – pretty bad, I know. Gas mileage is my main complaint about the truck. It may run pretty clean, though. At its last smog check – in 2001 because Oregon does not require them – it blew 17 parts per million hydrocarbons (of 120 allowable and 30 average), and something less than .01% carbon monoxide (of 1% allowable and .1% average) at an idle, 792 RPM. At 2,453 RMP it blew 35 ppm HCs and still less than .01% CO. We’ll see how it does ten years later, now that I’m back in California.

The truck costs me about $1,500 to own and operate each year. I spent exactly $9,253.21 from the beginning of 2004 to the end of 2010 on everything truck-related, including fuel, registration, parts, labor, insurance etc etc. That was while I was living in Eugene, though, where I didn’t have to drive much. We’ll see how much it costs now that I’m living in driving country again. I should also say that I do most of my own auto repair – anything easy. I’ve done pretty much all of the routine maintenance, things like spark plugs, caps, rotors, fuel, air & oil filters, and tire rotations, plus other parts as they broke or wore out: the power steering pump, alternator, generator, shocks, various hoses and belts. I took it to real mechanics for the harder stuff, like the new engine, a couple mufflers, a vacuum leak, a new bumper and fender.

Whenever I hit a major repair, I have to decide if it’s worth it to keep going with this truck. Each one costs more than I could sell the truck for. So far I’ve always gone with my truck. It always seems like the it’s worth it. The transmission will probably be my next big expense – I’m still on the original transmission. That will cost $1,500 or so.

It definitely looks like a beater. Plenty of primer. I bumped into a few things over the years and always had more pressing things to spend my money on. During the big move, Reanna and I talked about a new paint job to reward the truck for hauling all my worldly possessions over those passes so admirably. We’re thinking yellow, or maybe red. My dad used to be a car painter, so he can show us how.

Moments With My Truck: A reunion, a roadtrip, the recent move. (Collages by Reanna)

Here are some photos from my move with Reanna to California:

Joe, Nathen, and Layer 1 in U-Haul

Layer 2 in U-Haul

Layer 3 in U-Haul

Layer 5 in U-Haul

Reanna on U-Haul at Rest Stop

Just Another Trailer

Lauri & Ev's Apple Cider

Reanna Makes Lunch

Reanna (Tiny), Sign (Huge)

Caswell State Recreation Area

Nathen, Stanislaus River

Nathen, Bedhead, $6 Sunglasses

U-Haul Trailer Tire, Blown Out (Rim Behind Tire is Cracked)

Reanna, Tumbleweed Pom-Poms

Welcome Display by Mom

Reanna Meets Oliver

Reanna Plays With Oliver

Reanna and I just moved from Eugene, OR, to Joshua Tree, CA for $693.79. Our boxes were free, mostly from the Oakway Nike outlet dumpster. Our labor was free, mostly our own, plus a couple friends at key moments. We paid $218 for our 5×8 U-Haul trailer ($170 for seven days, plus $48 for trailer-plus-$5k insurance). Our U-Haul guy threw in an extra day (which we used) and a bag of packing blankets (which we used a few of).

We paid $70.71 for food. We ate at Casa Ramos in Corning for $22.76 and bought a date milkshake for $4.95 at Charlie Brown Farms in Littlerock, CA. The rest was for groceries.

We paid $126.99 for lodging. We stayed for free with my cousins Tom & Megan in Ashland the first night. We planned to stay at campgrounds the other three nights but that didn’t work out very well. We could’t find the first one before it got dark, so we stayed at the Economy Inn in Corning for $44. (We liked that room. Reanna liked the cinderblock construction and bathroom layout enough to take photos. The advertised pool, however, had clearly been out of commission for a long time.) We did camp on the third night, at Caswell State Recreation Area, for $30. It was very pretty there. A tiny remnant of central CA old growth forest. If you go, spend some time choosing your campsite. Some are adequate and some are really nice, right on the river.) Our fourth night of camping was undone by a blowout on our trailer. We spent three hours huddled in the dust between the I-5 and an almond orchard just south of Coalinga, while U-Haul and Billingsley tires figured out where we were, that the rim was cracked, and just what size of wheel we needed. We sprung for a motel that night, as we were pretty sure some of that dust was pesticide. We’d seen a crop duster flying over the almond orchards a few minutes north. It was worth the $52.99 just for the shower at the Econo Lodge Inn in Buttonwillow. (Though the wifi was terrible and the advertised pool was covered in some kind of scum.)

The biggest expense was gasoline: $278.09 for 72 gallons for the 1,112 mile trip. That’s only 15.44 miles per gallon, but not bad to move that much weight–6,900 pounds, including me and Reanna.

I also bought new tires before the trip ($310 on sale at Wal-Mart) but I am not counting that as a moving expense since I needed them anyway–my old tires were in OK shape for occasional town driving but ten years old with well over 100,000 miles on them.

So our total was $693.79, which is my most expensive move by far, but pretty good, I guess, for moving 40 years worth of possessions over a thousand miles.

I was reading in the library on campus a few nights ago and thought, “It’s getting late–about time to go home.” Then I realized that I was picturing the bus ride back to my old home, Suntop. I used to live in Springfield with a bunch of close friends. Now I live on my own in a studio in Eugene. I like a lot of things about my new space–how I’ve arranged it, my kitchen, the back yard–but I’m homesick for Suntop and my friends. I feel like a monk or one of those guys in the fire-lookouts in the mountains. Isolated. I’m busy, so I don’t think about it a lot, but being busy is part of the problem. I’m too busy to just hang out so I don’t call anyone.

If you know me, give me a call. I probably need a break from reading and would love to hear how you’re doing.

I’ve lived at the house we call Suntop for six years now, and I’m still living with the remnants of the community I helped start at our first house, Big Bertha, in Eugene, in early 2001. It’s been an amazing eight years and four months. I’ve grown a lot through it. I feel sad about leaving. I love it here, being so close to my dear friends, Tilke, Nick, and Joe, the Willamette River so close, the running trails, the woods, my bike-trail commute to school, the green property, the beautiful house, room for my office, my demo studio, my dance floor. This place and these people were a big part of the reason I applied only to the UO for graduate school. I never expected to live anywhere else in Oregon.

Perhaps I should have. When we moved here, I insisted on an upstairs room. I’m such a light sleeper, I couldn’t imagine being able to get to sleep with people walking on top of me. At that time, there were only two upstairs bedrooms–the sunny front room, that Tilke wanted (and it was she who was buying the house), and the master suite, with it’s own bathroom and everything. It seemed outrageous that I would get that room, and I said so, but there was a strong consensus that we liked the house and that it was acceptable that I lived in the fancy room. We were even splitting the rent evenly at that time. It probably helped that I was going to share the space with my girlfriend-at-the-time, and would for the next three years.

Six years later, the community is mostly dispersed. (Marriages and breakups, mostly, plus a dash of failure of leadership–probably the undoing of most communities.) Tilke is married, and I’m still living in the master suite of her and Nick’s house. What had seemed like extravagent space and privacy when we moved out of Big Bertha is now uncomfortably close quarters for them. Tilke asked me to leave about a month ago. It was super hard at first. I still felt ownership of the house and what is left of the community. I’ve gotten used to the idea now. Some friends have been encouraging me to leave for years, now, some mildly (“Nathen, you are always the one to hang on. You should consider letting go.” -Maya) and some not-so-mildly (“Nathen, get the hell out of there. Get out of Oregon, too. That place is doing nothing but reminding you of hard times.” -Evan).

I’ve found a good place to live. It’s in Eugene, close to downtown, the best health food stores, music venues, and campus. I’ll be closer to a lot of my friends and family–Gabriel, Maggie, Grace, Mo’, Vangie, Miriel, Akira, Jessica. I haven’t seen nearly enough of them, living out here in Springfield. I hope to deepen my connections with all of them in the next couple years. I’ll be living in a studio attached to the house of one of my main dance partners, Emily Aune. I don’t know her well, yet, but I have long suspected that she is great and that we could be close friends. She is easily in my top five of fun people to dance with. She’s thoughtful, smart, creative, and hip. She’s a botanist, native-plant enthusiast, gardener and a co-counseler. I’m looking forward to getting to know her.

I recently attended a lecture by Adam Galinsky where he presented evidence that assimilating into new cultures makes people more creative. Maybe it comes from a widening of the self-image. I left that lecture thinking maybe it was time I live somewhere else. I like moving. I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve moved as an adult: Redding, San Francisco Bay Area, Joshua Tree, Maui, Eugene, Springfield. I love coming back into contact with each possession and reconsidering it. I love how being in a new space brings back into focus each thing I do and each way that I am, so I can reconsider. This is going to be great.