This is a story about my jeep. I have loved Jeep Wranglers since I was old enough to care about vehicles. And, after purchasing one, I now know absolutely that I have chosen my obsession well. There is a lot to love about Jeeps. Jeep Wranglers wave at each other. Correction — Jeepers (you know people who drive a Jeep for the love of it, not as a fashion statement) wave at each other. I love this anonymous camaraderie and I never fail to smile when fellow jeepers wave back. Another thing I love about owning a Jeep is the terminology that I have acquired with it. I gained a new title with my Jeep: I have become a Wrangler Snob. I unabashedly claim this title for my own and I truly, when it comes to other cars or trucks, if it's not a Jeep, I am not impressed. There is also gear — a fire extinguisher (because you never know), a roll bar (because the Jeep will roll, occasionally, just for the goose pimples it will raise, that's fun to contemplate). But the thing I love best is that the Jeep is smart enough, and talented enough, and well-designed enough that when I get myself into more trouble than I know how to handle, the Jeep can save the day.
My beloved Jeep — her name is Baby. She got her name the first time I went out off-roading by myself. I was at an ORV Rec Area outside of Manhattan, Kansas (a.k.a. "the little apple"). I went down a steep incline to do some exploring, not realizing as I descended that what I had crawled down was a virtually vertical wall. When I came back to it to leave I looked up at that incline and knew I was in trouble. No car could have made it out of there. A car would still be in those woods. But a Jeep, even one driven by an untried idiot who never should have gone out there alone, on a whim, can make that climb. And did. And that is where she got her name. As I put the Jeep into 4 wheel drive and approached the wall I began to pray. "Dear God please get me out of here." As I made my way up that hill the prayer changed. "Please baby, baby, baby please get me out of this." And she did. And her name has been Baby ever since.
Tonight, alone, on a whim, I saw a dirt path take off the road that I was driving down. I had a decent sense of where I was geographically because earlier this week I had been in the same vicinity and I had seen what I believed to be the end of this road that I was looking at tonight. Let me back up for a moment and set the scene. It's near dark, in the middle of no-where Montana and tonight a cold storm has been brewing. Spring is here, but there are still patches of ground that are covered in snow. That is especially true for dirt roads that weave themselves through deep trees or have hills that create natural shade and protection for the snow. Roads very much like the one I had decided to try. Alone. On a whim. And yes, I still fall victim to my own stupidity on far too regular a basis.
I lived. Obviously, as I am here blogging and not freezing to death in the mountains right now. I lived because although I am still not much of an off-roader, the Jeep is. About half way in, I came to steep hill that I needed to climb. The hill faces north and is therefore protected from the sunlight. That means it's still completely snowed in. Half way in, by the way, is past the point of no return. It took me four tries, several prayers and a few moments of terror and desperation to get up and over that thing. And when I finally did, I was treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen yet.
Strange isn't it? Most of the time people avoid, pain, danger, risk. I know I do. But just a little of those things is enough to bring life into sharp focus and make a person realize what living is really for. I think I may need to add a touch of recklessness to my life a bit more often.