Capped crusader: Truck artist ‘living the dream’

The bottle-cap truck has been garnering attention around Point Hudson. Tonight it will be parked on Water Street for the monthly Gallery Walk. Margaret McKenzie/Peninsula Daily News

The bottle-cap truck has been garnering attention around Point Hudson. Tonight it will be parked on Water Street for the monthly Gallery Walk. Margaret McKenzie/Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — People around here, especially at the Point Hudson RV Park, might have noticed a vehicle cruising around that looks a little — well, the word “different” doesn’t even begin to do the bottle-cap truck justice.

Picture, if you will, a Ford pickup almost entirely covered with bottle caps (7,000 and counting).

Not only that, but they all seem to be beer bottle caps.

Not only that, they even spell out the words “Cap Man” on the truck’s tailgate.

It truly is a work of art. That being said, the truck will have a place of honor at today’s monthly Gallery Walk in Port Townsend.

It will be parked in front of Holly Green and Max Grover’s Sideshow Variety at 630 Water St. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

But there’s more to the story than that.

A quick spin around the Internet using the search term “Cap Man” sends you to a website — www.thecapman.us — and then to a Facebook page.

You learn the history of the bottle-cap truck. It evolved after its owner’s chance encounter with vintage bottle caps in an antique store.

And soon after leaving a message, you find yourself talking to the Cap Man himself.

He patiently answers the usual questions (no, he didn’t drink all that beer himself — people donate their cap collections to him; the truck is a 1995 F-250 that runs on biodiesel; and the bottle-cap adhesive of choice is silicone) and then supplies a few bonus details.

How Cap Man — alias Jimmy Straehla of Athens, Ga. — and his family — Cap Mommy (also known as Laura), Cap Boy (their son Blake, 7) and, of course, Cap Dog (the trusty Crystal) — came to be camping in their 29-foot travel trailer on the North Olympic Peninsula naturally has everything to do with the bottle-cap truck, and not just because it pulls their trailer.

You see, the Cap clan recently was invited to Seattle to display the amazing creation to an eager viewing public at the 13th annual Art Car Blowout — picture the bottle-cap truck times 100 and insert paint, papier-mache and even bricks for the caps.

And since they’d heard good things about the Peninsula, they decided to just come over and enjoy it before heading back to real life in Athens.

They have been on the Peninsula for about a month.

They currently are staying in Port Hudson but have traveled as far as Forks and a week ago stopped in Port Angeles, where the truck caused quite a stir in the Walmart parking lot.

But they’ve actually been on the road for almost a year “living the dream,” Cap Man said proudly.

Cap Boy, who’s starting second grade in the fall, has been home-schooled while the family travels from one art-car expo to the next.

Cap Man describes himself as a folk artist, saying, “I do simple paintings on wood.”

Those will be for sale at the Max Grover Gallery at Sideshow Variety today.

But Cap Man also is a general contractor back in Georgia, which helps pays the bills.

He sounded ready to be rejoining his old life back in Athens but also kind of nostalgic about the truck’s long, strange trip.

“It’s been quite a year,” he said.

As for the truck that started it all, this is actually Cap Man’s second bottle-cap truck.

The first one was completed 13 years ago.

And who knows? There could be another one waiting in the wings, as soon he fills in the vacant spot on the current one.

It all kind of makes you want to follow in Cap Man’s footsteps, er, tracks.

And if you don’t drink beer, there certainly are a lot of shells around here.

News Editor Margaret McKenzie can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5064, or at margaret.mckenzie@peninsuladailynews.com.

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