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"How to Avoid Pleurisy: Never make love to a girl named Candy on the tailgate of a half-ton Ford pickup during a chill rain in April out on Grandview Point in San Juan County, Utah." -- Ed Abbey

I Drove Ed Abbey's Truck

In September of 1998, I flew out to Utah for a bicycle-touring vacation.  Like many (most?) bicycle-tourists, my main criteria when booking my flight to Utah was price.   Invariably, the cheapest ticket involves taking a bit of a tour on the way.   In my case, I flew from Hartford to Atlanta; Atlanta to Salt Lake City; and Salt Lake City to St. George.  I had a 2 1/2 hour layover in SLC, so some friends of mine who live in Salt Lake came out to the airport to have lunch, hang out, and show me Ed Abbey's Truck!

Now, if you don't know who Ed Abbey was, and the kind of people who are attracted to his books and ideas, you probably won't appreciate the following little mini-report.    If you'd like to learn a little bit about who Ed was, you can see Abbey's Web.  Even better, go read one of his books!

How I drove Ed Abbey's Truck:

Fly from Hartford to Atlanta. Cool heels in Atlanta airport. Ride inter-concourse train back and forth just for ha-ha's. Fly from Atlanta to Salt Lake City. See SLC from the air. What a stupid place to put a city. Jammed tight between the mountains and the big lake. The big lake that rises regularly. The mountains that must dump lots of water off their faces regularly. Wonder how the brains of people actually work. Think it would be good to sell sump pumps in SLC. Exit airplane expecting to be greeted by middle-aged housewife descended from Mormon pioneers. Beehive hair-do, modest knee-length dress covered by apron. Disappointment descends. I stand lonely and forlorn in the middle of the concourse, watching others being greeted by friends and family, walking off happily arm-in-arm. Just then, three crazed people who somehow evaded the tight security measures in the airport accost me with some kind of sign proclaiming homage to the Montana Freemen. Simultaneously, one of them tries to force me to ingest some kind of vile substance which he claims to be a Utah delicacy. Fry sauce. (Fry this, pal!) Ever polite, I don't barf on his shoes. It turned out that these folks at least claimed to be Gail, Amy, and Brian. Gail had agreed to come out to the airport and have lunch with me during my 2 1/2 hour layover. Since that piece-of-shit truck she drives only gets six mpg, and since even Gail has enough of an environmental conscience to feel guilty about burning up precious and irreplaceable carbon-based fuels so flagrantly, she brought Brian and Amy along to push the truck. In true tourist fashion, Amy posed us in front of a PICTURE of some red rock and took some snapshots. Then it was off to the parking lot, where I had the opportunity to pose with the aforementioned piece-of-shit truck, and actually drive it around the parking lot.

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 This truck may look like a piece of junk, but the beauty of it is where it's been.    If you've read Abbey, you've read many references to places and events in which this same truck was involved.  The truck was donated to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance by Ed's widow, Clarke Abbey.  SUWA auctioned off the truck as part of a fund-raiser to help support their efforts to protect Utah wilderness.  My good friend Gail, slightly drunk, cast the winning bid at $26,500. About this purchase Gail wrote:

"Ed spoke with a clear strong voice for the preservation of the incredible Southwestern landscape. SUWA speaks in the same clear strong voice for protection of those lands within Utah. It was my pleasure to donate $26,500 to SUWA Sunday night for a truck Ed paid $2,925 for 25 years ago. Ed still speaks of the grandeur of wilderness in his writings. SUWA addresses the threats to that wilderness each and every day."

Finally, I was off to St. George on someone's idea of an airborne torture chamber. One of those little turbo-prop airplanes with such a small cabin that I had to enter and exit on my hands and knees. Boy, I just love flying! I arrived in St. George and got off the plane just in time to watch the baggage handler drop the box containing my bike out of the cargo hold onto the runway. Ouch! After un-boxing my bike and finding only minor damage, I loaded up my panniers and set off in search of my motel. Damn! Why didn't anyone warn me that there are small canyons running down both sides of the streets in Utah? I wonder how often small children are swept to their death in these drainage trenches.

Well, after that, the actual bike trip was pretty anti-climactic.

Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011