I found the Craigslist ad for our Chinook sometime in May at 3am while I was half drunk in the back of a cab. Ilana and I had spent months scouring the internet and sending posts back and forth, almost buying them and then deciding against it until we were fed up with ourselves. For whatever reason, this one struck a cord in us; and despite the fact that it's an old truck with a manual transmission, manual choke, no power steering, power brakes, or power anything, we bought it and decided to cross that bridge when we got there.
We bought it on the West Coast and planned to have it shipped to New York, learn to drive on the flat roads of Long Island, and leave from there. But when that didn't work out and the costs were too high, we decided to drive it across the country. Ilana's dad taught us to drive it the morning before we left. We felt sixteen again, like we had never been in control of a vehicle before, practicing stopping and going and pulling into parking spaces. We left for New York still barely knowing how to drive it. We drove scared and slow in the right lane, both of us alert, both of us making decisions together about what gear to shift into. We quickly learned how slow we are over hills and mountain passes. We learned to use our flashers almost all the time. We did drills with the clutch at gas stations.
It's hard to sum up 3000 miles into a few short paragraphs, or maybe it isn't. It took us 10 days. A lot of it was largely the same. Wal-marts and KOA campsites. Endless roads lined with cornfields and soybeans. Rolling yellow grass and steep hills we struggled to get up. Big skies, blue and gray and sometimes cotton candy pink. Trump signs and billboards. Lakes and rivers we were desperate to jump into and never did. In the beginning the roads felt like a treadmill, like a sunburn peeling. Time became completely elusive. We wouldn’t eat until 6pm when we realized we were starving. We stopped for huckleberry sundaes. We wandered around gas stations with moose pajamas and trout aquariums. The "famous Montana pickled eggs" became Wyoming and South Dakota and Minnesota pickled eggs. We learned that the sky is actually bigger in Montana and the state itself otherworldly and gigantic.
With every state we got a little better at driving, a little less timid. We took it through construction in South Dakota, up a 10% grade to Mount Rushmore, through hours of traffic in the outskirts of Chicago. The truck swayed in the wind, the steering wheel sideways, the semis spitting up water on our windshield. One of us yelled “windshield” and the other pulled the plug to start the wipers. We learned that our truck is always too hot or too cold. It constantly blows the air in from the highway, hot and humid or a wet cold. We got sick of music, it all sounds the same after a while, but the car is both too quiet and too loud without it. We got used to saying "its a '73," "it's a Toyota Chinook," and "yes we drove from Washington."
At some points the drive felt long and impossible to get through. We got antsy and anxious, counting the mile markers. But our old truck didn’t let us race through it. It taught us patience, forced us to move slowly, to stare at the sun setting in the rear view mirror every night.
Barely a Taco Kale & Chickpea Breakfast Tacos
Nothing fancy, but hearty and satisfying nonetheless. We made these tacos our first night camping in the truck at a KOA in Butte, Montana. The sky was on fire that night and we finally had a chance to plug in the camper.
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch of kale, stems removed + sliced in thin ribbons.
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked or canned
4 corn tortillas
1 avocado, sliced
salt + pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden and toasted (about 10 seconds). Add the kale to the pan, moving constantly until just wilted. Season with salt to taste. Add the beans and mix until warmed through. Set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil to the cast iron over medium heat. Add the eggs, flipping once until the white are crispy and the yolk is still runny. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat tortillas over open flame until warm and blistered.
Assemble the tacos: Layer sliced avocado with the kale & bean mixture and top with an egg. Add copious amounts of hot sauce and enjoy.