04 January 2017

How to - blend in - v-ii

If you clued in,
it may be apparent I've taken a little adventure.
A new gig in the Portland area opened,
and it seemed too good to pass up.
Let's say I'm living three TV shows,
parks and recreation, portlandia and monster garage...
There's a probation period,
so it's a solo mission for the first few months,
the perfect time to get to know the area
make sure it's right for the family.
The first few weeks were interesting,
long stretches of van camping,
punctuated by weekend hotel stays.
I've never been so rested!
Once it's dark it's bed time.
It reminded me of the VW bus days.
If it wasn't for the CA plates,
the van would blend in perfectly.
They say PDX is a bike city,
but there are plenty of beat up cars and trucks.
About 3 weeks in I found a safe place to room.
That nomadic excitement was over for now,
in many ways I would miss that spur of the moment life.
There are two main things that changed
with the housing situation,
being able to cook at any time,
and being able to pinch a loaf at any time.
It is surprising how life revolves around that
when it doesn't come easily!
With a fridge shopping has a new meaning,
especially since my wife's taken over this part.
I went to the store only needing clothes hangers!
With the room came another ability - 
Wi-Fi meant searching craigslist!!
(and writing blog posts!)
I had brought up the bottom speakers and receiver,
and found the others in a CL hunt.
Uh oh...
It didn't stop there!
Portland craigslist is not San Diego.
Stuff doesn't disappear in 15 minutes,
there's a lax sense of urgency.
There are a lot of great deals that linger
and the prices are steals.
Thankfully I came here with a job lined up,
as its like shark feeding time having a steady income!
Which brings me to the original idea for this post,
blending in...
The hot rod doesn't do that,
and the van with the CA plates screams noob. 
A quick Craigslist scan and voila,
Like a chameleon...
The guy had this listed for $400.
$400 for a registered running truck!?
The pics and words cracked me up,
leaving no bad surprises for condition.
The ad was listed for a whole week!
My first PDX bike ride was picking it up.
I probably thought it was cold that morning.
I had seen it the day before,
and did some SD tire kicking.
Guess what? 
$300 for a long bed stick shift minitruck!
Ok there were over 200K miles
and it needed some love,
tires were funky,
there was a growling sound,
and the engine leaked oil like a fountain.
The first thing was to get some used tires.
This was the only original picture,
and it's hard to tell,
but the front tires were bigger than the rears.
I knew something was off,
however it took the tire guy to notice
there were 15" rims in front and 14" in back.
Now it's got proper big'n'littles.
The next thing was bad planning.
I played it smart and ordered a bunch of engine parts online,
only to find out the engine was upgraded years before.
So the 1986 Mazda b2000,
is actually a 1989+- b2200,
a little more refined engine.
New timing belt and crank seal,
no more leaks.

Amazingly with all the quick fixes,
including a replacement corner light,
the total is under $500.
Between the 8x2 mile work commute,
 and a lot of craigslist scrounging,
I'm almost to $1/ mile less gas.
And wow the 4-banger is a miserly gas sipper,
in comparison to the van anyway.
During the first snow freeze,
I thought the van would be the better snow ride.
Holey chit,
going up this hill the rear slid out!
Not bad but on such a heavy sled there's a momentum.
Of course I did have chains,
but left them in San Diego!
The wife and kids sent them up after the storm...
The second snow freeze happened with the truck.
It is amazing how fast the roads ice over,
at 130 it went from dusty snow...
And at 3:45 it looked like this.
Doesn't seem thick,
just for some reason it gets very slick.
That night it took an hour and a half
to go 8 miles!
The truck was not fun to drive.
With no weight in the rear,
the tires would just spin.
In bumper to bumper stop and go,
every take-off would be sketchy,
a half dozen times I got 45 degrees sideways!
The treads were hard with ice,
I could get into 3rd gear and not move!
Every truck like me was dancing the same.
Upon my safe arrival,
I scored half price chains on good ole CL.
Thanks Tim!!
Of course now it's been dry for weeks...
The funny thing was chief was the best ice driver,
the skinny rear tires would cut through quicker.
Hopefully I can get these guys up here!!
Anyway more later!


  1. Glad you are back and welcome to the PNW..It's the ice and wet snow that makes driving wacky up here..

  2. P.S. My wife's truck was the same color and make..It was a '87..Put some weight over the tyres and and maybe some used studs..The truck is still going strong after 25yrs. It's now with my bro's son since my wife didn't make it as far...

  3. Glad you are back and welcome to the PNW..It's the ice and wet snow that makes driving wacky up here..

    1. Here comes some wacky driving conditions that's for sure!!