She was Ro in the morning. As the hiss of my gas camp stove would slip out of the small pop-up window in the roof and echo against steep granite walls catching the first rays of sunlight beaming over the Tetons. Roci in the evening as dried food rations, dirty laundry and fly rods jostled around in her interior as we drove deeper into the wild on a path too pot-holed and narrow to call a road. Rocinante at night when trout sizzled in an cast iron skillet and shafts of moonlight dabbled through her rags for window curtains.
She was mine. She was shit jobs I worked, rice and beans I ate, and money I saved through the winter in Jackson, Wyoming—nine hundred dollars of steel body, leaking V8, mattress in the back, pantry in the front, splintered windshield, pathetic excuses for a home. She was storage for three skis, one bike, tupperware bins of gear, and an ambitious me. Much more than a home or place to rest my head, she was kindling for the fire in my chest. An incessant source of inspiration and “lets see what’s over the next ridge” moments. A vehicle for this empty space in my life seemingly fit for the wild— the I haven’t seen a human in 21 days moments. A means to pure bliss. A bliss I was becoming increasingly dependent on. A feeling that I never found anywhere else. A smile unlike any I’ve spread on my face as I’d sit on her roof and watch the sun settle behind this mysterious country.
Victims of “your gonna live in that’s?” and “what about a bathroom and shower and sinks?” and “what about electricity’s?” Skepticism solidified our bond; gave us the inspiration to separate ourselves from this dependence on trivial conveniences that we all, including myself, have become increasingly dependent on.
Like me, Roci loved the woods. She preferred the thin mountain air. She liked the film of dirt that collected on the dashboard so I could write my name with an index finger. She loved the babble of the Snake River when we could park close enough on a warm summer night and leave the sliding door open. She was protection when bears ate food I hung too low and close. She was warmth and refuge when the rain turned to snow as we gained elevation up a too-steep-for-a-two-wheel-drive-shaggin-wagon two track.
I’d gather around her warm steel hood where flakes of rust and paint would get under my fingernails as I spread out “The Gros Venture and Teton National Forest” topographic map. Tracing my fingers along the contours of God’s country, I’d tap them on a two track, following it’s curves through cottonwoods and ponderosa pines. Not the solid lines depicting dependable roads, but the dotted ones. The two-tracks leading to we didn’t know where; usually following a stream or dead ending in a lake.
She was my companion. Ro embodied everything my minor life in Wyoming needed. Someone to depend on, not ask questions of why, when or how. She was anthropomorphism in it’s boldest sense. A Ford Club Wagon with a personality and a preference for music—unbound from reality, preserved in the imagination—her steel body was languid and robust, shy in the morning light, fierce in the inky black depths of a moonless night. She was love, she was mine. She was Rocinante.