If you follow the San Andreas Fault on a map, from its southern origins near the Salton Sea, it points along a 10-o'clock angle, gradually nearing the Pacific Ocean for 745 miles until it finally glances past San Francisco and then disappears near Point Delgada. It's a mammoth crack in the earth's crust, with Los Angeles heading for Anchorage, and all the rest of it drifting toward the equator.
No point along it is more remarkable to the naked eye than where a splinter of the San Andreas, called the Calaveras Fault, bisects the town of Hollister.
Unlike the celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County, the Calaveras Fault is aseismic; that is, its sides creep past each other slowly and smoothly. It produces few seismic "events." Gradually, the center of Hollister is being sheared in two, but so hyperglacially that its edifices are simply twisting with it. On their evening strolls along 4th and 6th Streets, pedestrians have acclimated themselves to their sidewalk's mean-dering courses.
Two years ago, Toyota began its own slow rearrangement of the truck world's continents with the introduction of the new Tundra. Built in a brand-new factory in San Antonio, Texas--the beating heart of the nation's body--the Tundra seemed to have distilled the thick biographies of Detroit's traditional pickups so potently, we picked it as Motor Trend's 2008 Truck of the Year. Twelve months later, a comprehensive round of improvements elevated the latest Ford F-150 past the interesting new Dodge Ram to clinch the same honor. So what we have here is an unusual clash of truck tectonic plates, 2008's champ versus 2009's. The quick-read, nationalized citizen against the American-to-the-bone, perennial best-seller.
Which is our pick between our last two trucks of the year? We headed to Hollister to find out which one is gradually heading north, and which south.
Snaking up along scenic Route 25, we bisected some of the loveliest cattle country you'll ever see to pay a visit to the Appel Ranch, located about 20 miles south of Hollister (and thanks, Mary and John, for your hospitality). Rolling grassland hills. Meandering dirt roads. Really big moo cows. The perfect playground to let 4x4 trucks off their leashes.