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By Joseph Dempsey Primal

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Primal fear, Rottweilers, and four-wheelers. . . . It is my observation that when a normal, God-fearing, vote-in-nearly-every-election, honest, hard-working American sees a Rottweiler in his or her vicinity, that person immediately experiences a knotting of the stomach as adrenalin-laced, fight-or-flight instincts kick in.

Now eight months into my second Rottweiler, I have seen this phenomenon on more occasions than Carter has little liver pills.

After having shot the image displayed above, and after having listening to the reactions of some acquaintances, I can safely lump big four-wheelers right up there with Rottweilers. A lot of folks go into "symptoms" at the mere thought of being in the same macro-environment with either.

All I can say is you've been lied to before.

Turns out, most Rottweiler owners will tell you that their monster-dogs take far longer to grow out of their "puppiness" than most other dogs. Most of them never lose their desire to take their rightful place in your lap. Pup This of course has orthopedic implications, especially after the growing "pup" approaches the 100-pound range. A Rottweiler master also experiences puppy love administered by a tongue about the size of a bath mat.

Yes, these are large, muscular, well-boned critters. Unfortunately, some owners steer their dogs in the wrong direction. But under normal circumstances, with family love mutually exchanged between dog and humans, the thing most to fear is a liberal application of the bath mat tongue as a wake-up call.

I say all this as a precursor to talking about the truck. I spotted this gentle-giant of a four wheeler in the vicinity of White Rock Lake in northwest Arkansas. It was being driven across a one-lane, "low-water" bridge. Suffice to say the width of the vehicle was barely contained by the available width of the bridge.

After we both crossed the bridge and I passed the thing, I waved to the occupants and noticed that two small boys and a couple of adults made up the passenger list. They all looked as if they would rather be where they were more than any other place in the world.

A while later I happened across the vehicle and its passengers at a scenic overlook high above the lake. The boys were using the rollover cage as a jungle gym. Their father and his friend were passing the time of day with some other folks observing the pristine vista of the lake. Me being me, I barged right on in and made myself a part of the conversation.

Turns out the father of the two boys made the machine himself. It started out in life as a venerable S10 Chevy pickup. About the only vestiges left of that origin are the dashboard, hood, floor, and stock engine. There are no fire-belching non-mufflers, over-powered stereos, or any of the other appurtenances popularly attributed such vehicles. This one makes no special noise, moves slow, and will go dang near anywhere you have the cajones to put it.

Little boys seem to love it. Given that, it's got to be a good thing.

All of which serves to remind one of what Herbert Spencer wrote: "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

N O T E   ( for the gearheads ) :  
The four-wheeler is a marvel of home engineering. The front and rear axles are front differentials from an Army "duecenaha'f." (The Reo-version). As such, they are both steerable. Taking full advantage of this modification, our intrepid builder from Greenwood, Arkansas, manufactured a four-steering system to enable the gentle giant to steer with all four wheels. Give the steering wheel a turn in either direction and the wheels turn in different directions, which means it could probably do a tight turn around a number-three washtub.

As in most smartly planned off-road vehicles, everything articulates for ease of crawling over obstacles. The articulation is enabled with some extra-heavy-duty trailer hitches. The stock engine purrs like a kitten. There are a couple of bungee-cords and motorcycle tie-downs holding some non-essential pieces in place until the next repair and maintenance session. Although I did not spot any duct-tape, I'd dang-near bet the farm it's there. After all, what self-respecting bit of southern engineering does not rely on the gray badge of courage somewhere.

N O T E    T W O:  
Tripod-mounted Nikon D200 with remote release cord / ISO 200 / Sigma 10-20 mm f4-5.6 zoom / Lightly popped with Nikon SB800 flash hand held off-camera low to illuminate the undercarriage /post processed in Photoshop CS3

Click the jump wings
to see the previous Photo of the Week. . . .

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