Saying goodbye to an old friend

I’m not one of those people who is obsessed with the vehicle I drive. But when the time came to say goodbye to the Jeep Wrangler I’ve had for the past 14 years, I did so begrudgingly. This, despite the fact that it was simply time to let it go.

You see, I’m a Jeep guy, and by that I mean Wrangler. It goes all the way back to my uncle’s ’51 Willys that I first rode in as a very small kid. My uncle would pile a bunch of us in this thing (no seat belts) and take us into the woods, over hills, wherever he wanted to go. He drove it regularly all through the 1970s and into the 1980s.

He used it as his deer hunting vehicle and plowed tons of snow with it. He kept it running and used it around the homestead right up until when he passed a few years ago. Now my cousin has it and is restoring it. I know that when he’s finished, it will be remarkable.

A few years after I got out of college I bought a small SUV that was like a Wrangler. Well, not quite, but it had some of the same features in that it was small and was a four-wheel-drive. Like most vehicles I’ve owned, I kept it until it started to nickel-and-dime me to death, which is what just finally was happening with the Wrangler.

Still, this vehicle didn’t own me a thing. The first brand-new vehicle I ever owned, I bought it early in 2006. It was the bigger “Unlimited” model and for years fitted my lifestyle perfectly. Like my uncle, I plowed my long driveway with it and used it as my every-day rig. It was especially handy on the dirt roads around the deer hunting areas I frequent. This is what I’ll likely miss most of all.

There is also a social aspect in owning a Wrangler, such the official Jeep wave. Out on the road, whenever you passed another Wrangler the driver would wave to you and you would wave back; almost simultaneously. It was what they called a “Jeep” thing.

But that’s all over, at least for now. As my Jeep got older I began to think about a suitable replacement. My needs have changed somewhat and this time around I needed to consider a vehicle that I could not only plow my driveway with, but one that can easily tow a loaded-down RV.  As much as the new Jeep trucks had caught my eye, I decided it might be best to get an eight-cylinder pick-up.

And so I took the plunge and am now trying to fit a full-size truck in my garage. The truck is already coming in handy in a number of ways and will be a great sporting vehicle, no doubt. But it is taking some getting used to as well.

I know in time I’ll be better off with a new, dependable ride – meaning, I won’t miss dealing with the issues that come with an aging vehicle. For now, I’ve got to get out of the habit of waving at Jeeps. That might be a hard one to break.

Categories: Dan Ladd

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