“Yeah, I waved back. It’s the Ark, you know. It attracts guys. You don’t believe it.” But it is true. The Ark, a 1984 VW Vanagon, brown and tan, attracts guys in the same way that Mark’s southern accent attracts women of a certain age. It’s amazing—he’ll hold forth on compost and chicken tractors during garden tours and the circle is spell bound, and I know it’s not the chicken poop they are thinking of.
The Ark has always attracted male attention. Truck drivers smile at gas stops. Men wander over to discuss my “rig” in campgrounds and allow that they’d be just as happy with a van, but the wife….she needs a little more space, so they have a monster RV. (Yeah, I know, there’s a huge difference between my van and an RV built on a bus frame, but there you have it.) Mechanics give advice and even allowed my friend Sherrie and me to sleep in the back of the shop one night. They have even lent tools on occasion.
It is not a fancy rig. She drives like a truck, with a huge steering wheel and gear shift that requires a full arm motion, not a flick of the wrist, to operate. The view from the driver’s seat is excellent, even on a road full of SUVs. The engine and transmission are solid. There are newish tires and good brakes. I just replaced the windshield. There’s a bed with good pillows and bureau with a camp stove slid underneath in back, ready for camp cooking or afternoon tea. But, there’s a dent on the sliding door because of a huge blind spot. There’s paint peeling from being too close to a house fire one night. The bumpers are wonky. The green shag rug is truly gross and there is often hay in the corners. The gas gage does not work—but the odometer does! She really needs a serious bath and the driver’s side window rattles in the breeze when open. But there is something about it, the sturdy, hard working, square body, that evokes the Open Road, Adventure, and Escape from Every Day Life.
Later that day, we were about to leave the Umpqua Discovery Center. Mark was waiting patiently for two elderly couples to tuck themselves into their silvery late model car before he climbed into the driver’s seat.
“How old is that rig?” one elderly gentleman inquired.
“1984.” Mark answered, a little stunned. He’s not used to the attention.
“Still does the job,” the man nodded.
“Yup,” Mark agreed and swung inside. He smiled.
Zucchini Rice Casserole – the season has begun….
Cook about a cup of brown rice, or use leftovers from the night before, if you are proactive in food planning.
Chop one nice onion and one medium sized zuke and sauté in olive oil. Add salt and fresh ground pepper, two or three cloves of garlic.
Beat 3-4 eggs, fresh basil or marjoram, and perhaps some feta cheese. Mix eggs, veg, and rice together and pour into a casserole dish or a large cast iron skillet. Bake in 350 oven until eggs are set and a little brown.
This can be eaten hot, warm, or cold. With salad and a blueberry pie—the oven is already on and heating up the house, after all—you are feasting. And there is one less squash in the bottom of the fridege.