There Might Be More To Life Than Just Motorcycles

Jay Camping

On December 31st, 2011 I wrote my year end review after purchasing a red 2001 Dodge Dakota 4×4 earlier in the day.

We bought a 4×4 truck today! Our hope is this purchase opens up a new chapter in motorcycling for us called: Trailering! I know there are hard core riders who frown on trailering. Many of you proudly wear your “I rode to Daytona” and similar patches and turn your noses up at trailer queens. I’m sure you can argue that riding to the destination IS the experience. Everyone is different! I’m not a biker! I’m a recreational rider and a Harley enthusiast. I don’t like to get up early and I don’t like to ride after dusk. I don’t want to travel the highways on my motorcycle with Diana knowing the fatality that can result from the smallest obstacle, misjudgement or cager at highway speeds. I do love traveling on my schedule, hitting the backroads and riding all day in the mountains with my wife (and sometimes friends). So trailering is appealing. The 4×4 pick up truck also opens up other pastimes like camping and boating which could enhance or even replace riding. I know, heresy!

The Dodge turned out to be more of a project than anticipated. It wasn’t running for three months due to faulty cam and crankshaft sensors. We also needed to drop in a new battery. Then we completely replaced the front pads and rotors. After some excitement about smoke coming from the new front right brake we replaced the calipers also. A power steering fluid switch needed to be replaced because the truck kept spewing fluid all over itself and the parking spot in front of my house. Later on we had new lower front ball joints replaced. Recently I fixed the lid to the center console which kept popping open. That repair was followed by fixing the AC blower which was only running on high due to worn out resister. I have become quite familiar with the junkyard lately. I put a new black nerf bar on the right side of the Dakota but can not get the body chassis bolt out of the left side rear corner of the cab. The bolt head is sheared off and the bolt is hanging inside the fastener. I’m hoping to have someone weld on a bolt or nut that will let us get a wrench on it to turn it out. I have 4 new shocks in the back seat along with the upper front ball joints. After those are put in the front wheels need to be aligned because one wheel is pointing out in it’s own direction from the other. Having the wheels balanced is also on the to-do list to stop a slight shimmy. The automatic transmission isn’t feeling a 100% either. As you can see I am spending a little here and there on it slowly bringing it back to road worthiness.

Unfortunately we are not ready for the chapter in our lives on trailering and that will keep us from our planned trip to the New Hampshire State HOG Rally later this month. On the positive side the pick up has opened my mind to new (or old) pastimes. Diana and I took the truck camping this past weekend! Even though she wasn’t quite road worthy we embarked on a first pick up trip. This trip started with giving the Dakota a name and then talking nice to her. She/he has been dubbed Baby, short for Baby Ram. Talking nice must have worked because we went camping, had a great time and are now back home and we didn’t even have to call AAA! To reward Baby I just dropped her off to have those shocks and front upper ball joints dropped in. Our mechanic, John, was also welding that nut on the end of the body mount bolt I mentioned above about an hour ago. I hope that lets him turn the bolt out.  He will also be welding in a patch on the right wheel well of the pick up bed where a nasty rust hole has worn through.

The camping trip was great fun! Next weekend I’m going to go lake fishing with my Pops, my brother and his two sons. I haven’t gone camping or fishing since before high school! The truck is opening new chapters for me and perhaps there is more to life than just motorcycles! I know, heresy!