It rained for three hours straight last night – the kind of perfect steady rain that doesn’t wreak havoc on my garden – and in the end there were 1.25 inches in the rain gauge. And in my Jeep. I hate it when I forget to roll up the windows.
I still drive a no-frills 4×4 with manual windows and manual door locks and a separate shift for the four-wheel drive. It’s a boxy Cherokee, just the way I like ‘em. I don’t like smooth edges on Jeeps. The newer models look like Fisher Price cars.
I’ve owned several vehicles, and only two – the ’75 Mustang and the ’85 Hyundai Excel – compare in memories and in the level of love I have for my Jeep. Of all my cars, I’ve owned the Jeep the longest – nine years next month – and the way I acquired it took a leap of faith.
I wasn’t married to Right Husband yet, although we were engaged. The POS I was driving needed a new transmission which would have cost more than the car was worth, and so we decided to trade her in for a used Jeep. My credit rating was shit so the financing was done exclusively in Larry’s name and I was without any transportation to my name. I didn’t even own a bike. Knowing my track record with men, this took a great deal of trust. I made Right Husband promise that if we broke up, he’d give me the Jeep. He promised, but men will say anything if they think they’ll get laid.
It all worked out, though, because a few months later we got married, we’re still married, and the Jeep turned over 140,000 miles, about 100,000 miles of which are all mine. I even took a photo of the odometer turning over 140,000.
The Jeep was the lead car in the three-car caravan driving down to my youngest daughter’s house on Christmas morning. My stepson Andy was riding shotgun and was in charge of the camera. I knew we’d hit the mark somewhere around Kittanning and I wanted to record the event. But first we had to stop at the Exxon station in the middle of nowhere on Route 66 so Carlene could put gas in her car (Her car was on E. It was Christmas Day. The girl cannot be accused of being a planner. And as you can see in the photo, she’s a girly girl. Who holds a purse while pumping gas? My oldest daughter does.)
Back on the road, we were 10 miles from the 140K mark. I was giddy in anticipation. It would mark the first time in my life that I ever put 100,000 miles on a car. I’ve never made that kind of commitment to anything before. We were on Route 422 almost to the bridge across the Allegheny River when I told Andy to turn on the camera. He handed it to me and as I drove, I steadied the lens on the odometer.
I could probably put another 100K on the Jeep; it’s got a fabulous engine. The doors squeak, but it’s nothing a little WD40 won’t fix. The air conditioner doesn’t hold a charge and it leaks Freon so my hair is even more notoriously curly in the summer when I have to roll down the windows to breathe. We recently had to have the underbody near the driver’s side welded because a hole had developed and I wasn’t going to convert my Jeep to a Flintstone’s car. Yes, there are some issues.
Economically it would make sense to buy a new vehicle, but I can’t part with the Jeep just yet. I can take that baby anywhere. Sure, it’s a bumpy ride. Yeah, it drives like an old truck. There are pine needles stuck to the back carpet from Christmas trees we bought in the late 1990s. But I don’t feel guilty sucking down a latte and throwing the cup on the floor. I don’t sweat it if a wad of gum melts on the seat. My dogs can climb in after swimming in a lake and it doesn’t matter. It’s been to Minnesota, Canada, and New York. It’s an old shoe, a best friend, and I want to take Grandbaby four-wheeling in this history-making old soul.
So my ass got a little wet this morning driving to the gym. The seats are dry now and I remembered to roll up the windows this afternoon.
Roll on, my big old behemoth. I couldn’t leave you if I tried.