I like sports cars, not trucks.
Give me a Mustang or Camaro over an F-150 or Silverado. But last week, I traded in my first-ever pickup for a bigger one.
What’s going on here? Blame my 11-year-old son, Connor. If he weren’t in the picture, I’d drive a snarling sports car that could do 0-60 under 5 seconds.
Instead, I drive a tank-sized Toyota Tundra with the biggest V-8 the company makes. I recently traded up from my mid-sized Toyota Tacoma with a V-6.
I needed the extra horsepower to pull the 18-foot travel trailer I bought almost two years ago. It was a leap-of-faith purchase. I really had no idea if Connor (or I) would enjoy hauling the trailer to state parks and RV sites for a few nights away from the city.
We both love it. In fact, we spent six days over the recent Christmas break on South Padre Island in South Texas – our longest trip yet.
I used to think travel trailers were kind of geeky – and hardly qualified as camping. But at 53, I’m done with tent camping – sleeping on the hard ground with mosquitoes and chiggers. Our trailer has air conditioning, a kitchen with oven and microwave, and a bathroom with hot water and shower. It ain’t exactly roughing it.
Anyway, on the 1,100-mile round trip from Dallas to Padre Island, I realized that the V-6 Tacoma wasn’t cut out for long road trips with the trailer. Fortunately, most of the terrain between Dallas and the Gulf of Mexico is flat. But even on moderate hills, the pickup strained under the weight of the camper and topped out at 55 mph.
I realized the Tacoma was suited for short weekend trips, not cross-country treks that included mountain driving.
Time to get a bigger truck
So, a few days after Connor and I returned from Padre, I headed to the Toyota dealership where I bought my 2008 pickup. I explained my predicament with the underpowered Tacoma.
“You need a Tundra,” the sales guy said, referring to the brand’s largest pickup. “And I’d get the biggest V-8 if you’re going to pull a trailer.”
We walked the used-vehicle lot and inspected a couple of Tundras – first a white one, then a red one. Neither excited me. Then we spotted a sparkling silver pickup (also a 2008) that met all my criteria – big V-8, four doors, towing package.
About an hour later, I was finishing the dealership paperwork and heading home in my enormous pickup that could pull even the biggest trailer. Hell, I could fit some of my old sports cars in the truck bed.
Sitting up high in the cab like an over-the-road trucker, I wondered how I wound up here. It’s an easy answer: My son discovered that he loved camping, and you can’t pull a mini-house with a Mustang.
So I’m now getting about 14 mph in my behemoth. It won’t fit into many parking places. I’m stuck with a larger, longer payment. And the truck doesn’t fit my self-image of the sports-car-driving cool guy (which was more fantasy than reality, anyway).
But Connor loves the growling giant of a truck, and I can’t wait to pull our trailer with it. I’m already envisioning a trip to the tallest peaks in Colorado. I doubt the Tundra will break a sweat.
The sports car isn’t forgotten
Someday, when Connor is grown, I’ll probably revert to my vehicle of choice – a sleek, low-to-the-ground muscle car with dual chrome exhausts and wide tires.
Until then, I’ll lumber along in my oversized pickup. But I’ll have a smile on my face because it allows Connor and me to create lifelong memories in the travel trailer. As long as the AC and shower keep working, we’ll both be happy campers.
When you’re a dad, your wishes become secondary to your child’s. You alter your self-image and do things you would have never imagined. And, most likely, you’ll be happier than ever.