Jeep Honeymoon, Snow and Dunes
I knew it was a bad idea, but I had yet to find out why. My friend Vic had mentioned going to Ocean Shores -- a two hour drive to a beach that allows cars. Being a recently anointed Jeep owner, I leapt at the opportunity to get off the pavement and use my Jeep in the environment for which it was designed. Driving a ‘93 Wrangler is always an excursion, be it to work or to the grocery store. We left on an especially windy day, Vic in his ‘08 Wrangler towing his small off-road trailer and I, of course, brought up the rear in the ‘93 with my mutt (Mayhem) in his carrier on the passenger seat. Vic, Mayhem and I made the journey the old-school way; one glance at a map and then we were off. Halfway through the trip my ragtop started groaning and flapping. When we stopped for gas I noticed that the bracket that fastens the top to the windshield had come loose. The screws, of course, had stripped the metal into which they were originally sunk and my ratchet wrench did little but to spin them in place. We had thirty miles left to go on roads with speed limits no greater than 45 mph, so the decision was to risk the top flying off and to find a hardware store after we had staked out a camping spot.
Vic, Mayhem and I arrived at the beach with the top intact. The access road to the beach is not maintained in the off-season, and the drive over it was filled with bumps and smiles. There were waves and smirks exchanged with the drivers coming off the beach, and to one couple that was grinning ear to ear, a toot of the ooo-gah horn. To say that driving on the beach was a blast would be a severe understatement. Rarely have I enjoyed driving with such a glowing passion, in fact the only comparable driving experience that comes to mind is the day I got my driver’s permit. That says quite a lot, considering that I enjoy driving in even the most suboptimal of conditions. After having spent a couple of hours driving up and down the beach, Vic and I settled on a campsite and called a mutual friend of ours who happened to be spending the weekend in the same general neck of the woods with his wife. Josh and Katrine (the friend and his wife) were a 45 minute drive away, and said that they would join us in an hour. With Josh, it is customary to add two hours to whatever time he says he will be somewhere.
Four and a half hours later, Josh and Katrine still had not left from Westport. It was cold and windy and there was not much more talking left in our system and I had already played all the songs I felt like playing on guitar. The resolution was to drive on the beach for a bit in my Wrangler. It was raining and getting dark --perfect driving conditions for someone who prefers a challenge. What wound up happening is that we drove the same featureless stretch of beach, a stretch of beach so tame that sedans were not an irregular sight. Per Vic’s suggestion, I opted to try a small dune. I had been led directly into temptation. It was harmless fun, and it was a fun that sunk into the deepest core of my soul. For the first time in years, I felt free. I felt one with the earth and the Jeep; exploring the physical limitations of driver and nature. To me, there was no greater elation than captaining my hardly modified ‘93 four banger with nearly bald tires over sandy hills and dales that would quake the bones of even the most experienced off-roader and making it look effortless. Coming over what would be the last dune, I saw a beige Chevy truck approaching, and then I saw the unenviable flashing of blue and red lights.
As it turns out, as is the case with most things that are fun, driving on the dunes is illegal in Ocean Shores. We were escorted back to the campsite. Ten minutes later Josh showed up but by that point Vic and I were in lesser spirits. After attempting a campfire which took more warmth to make than it did produce, Josh went back to his wife and hotel room in Westport, and Vic and I retired to his camper to watch an Emerson Lake and Palmer documentary. The next day Vic and I went to the hardware store to get fatter screws for the bracket which held on the soft top; I also fastened down the passenger side seat belt, screwed back in the dash panels which I had removed to fix the brake lights, and properly fastened down some nuts and bolts on Vic’s trailer which he had bought new not a few months before. For lack of entertainment, Vic and I also tested out the winch. I still do not know whether the winch is functional in the sense that it can pull the Jeep out of a trench, but it is functional enough to pull its own cable.
Unfortunately I did not get the photoshoot I was hoping for in Ocean Shores. Though the officer who stopped us was perfectly friendly, I did not find it appropo to ask whether I could take a picture. Instead of a picture, I suppose a thousand words will have to suffice. The only picture from the trip features a rainbow arching over the Jeep at the campsite.
There is a part two to the Jeep’s adventures on our honeymoon. A week after returning from the mixed-emotion camping trip, it decided to snow. I drove everywhere. The first day nothing was plowed and I was loving it. My rationalization is that the Jeep is new to me and I needed to learn how it handled in the snow. Having grown up on the East Coast, driving in the snow is second nature for me. Harkening back to my first article about the Jeep, I absolutely need new tires. The only thing holding me back from buying tires is the decision whether to get road tires or off-road tires. “No-Season” tires are not on my radar, and the aesthetic of the Jeep relies so heavily on the 90’s aftermarket wheels that I am hesitant to get a set of off-road wheels/tires on a whim. It is a decision on which I am still hesitating, but if I do get a separate set of off-road wheels and tires, I am leaning heavily towards a black set of steelies that mimic the look of WWII flat fenders.
Though I credit the driver at least partially, I took my neighbor to the store today. She was amazed how nicely the little Jeep pawed its way through the snow.
You may notice that the snow on the Jeep is less thick than the snow on the ground. That is because I drove around all day the day before. Here is a glimpse of the Buick for reference. Also, I need to get the picture from my landlord, but it appears that a cat has made the Buick its domicile. I am not a huge fan of cats, but I am a supporter of life on this world. So if Buick Cat wants to occupy the Buick while it's not running, all the more power to Buick Cat. Buick Cat is a total mystery; we do not know whether Buick Cat is completely feral or if it is a wandering cat. Either way, Buick Cat is fat and seems to be well fed. Buick Cat is not featured in this final photo.
Per a theme created in my last article, I feel it obligatory to include this link.
Here's something you don't get in a paper magazine: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R49BmdUiWw