In the late fall of 2006 I began to realize that I should treat myself and get a new car.  Things were going well at work, and the S10 was slowly falling apart, it still ran fine, but little things were breaking like the side mirror, A/C, etc… so I started looking around for something nicer and more fun to drive.

At first I was considering an SUV.  I knew I wanted something with four wheel drive since I frequently drive down dirt roads and in snowy conditions, but I couldn’t really find anything I liked that was in my price range.  Then my little brother suggested a Jeep, not any Jeep, but a real JEEP, a Wrangler.

Hmmm… had’t really thought of that.  But I’ve always thought they were cool, and it fit what I wanted in a car.  My older brother had a “CJ” back in the day, and while his was a bit of a lemon, it was fun to drive.  Plus, I was a single guy, so the size limitations weren’t a problem, so I started looking.

At first I wasn’t finding much, a couple looked good, but they were in the Bay Area, and I didn’t feel like driving all the way down there just to look at one.  Then one popped up on Craigslist.  Very low miles, it was the top off the line Sahara model, and the price looked very fair.  Plus it was here in Redding.  So I called the seller, and set up a time to check it out.

Later that day, my little brother and I drove down to his place to see the Jeep.  The guy selling it was a nice older guy, and when I saw the Jeep and heard him describe it, I knew it was going to be mine.  Here was a 6 year old car that looked BRAND NEW.  He had barely driven it, and it was primarily used as a car that he could easily tow behind his motor home.

A few days later I lined everything up with the bank, and I became a proud Jeep owner.

It was awesome!  Jeeps are super fun to drive.  You sit high up in a small and very mobile vehicle.  It’s super easy to make a 180 degree turn.  And the 4×4 is amazing, there aren’t many places you can’t take a Jeep.  And when the weather gets nice, you can take the top off and drive convertible style to the envy of many other drivers.  Plus, driving a Jeep is much like driving a VW, you feel like you are in a “club” when you drive around, other Jeep owners wave or honk their horn at you.  It’s very cool.

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My best memory of that Jeep was from a trip to Reno.  Jaime, Andre and I were making our annual pilgrimage to the Biggest Little City in the World for some fun and debauchery.  I was nominated to drive, I believe it was my turn, plus as usually is the case when we go to Reno, the weather turned to crap just in time for our drive, so a 4×4 was a necessity.

The drive over was pretty uneventful.  Besides Andre packing all kinds of “Stolpa Gear” in the small back compartment.  He just knew we wouldn’t be laughing if we broke down, because he’d have his gigantic parka to save him from the cold.  And for some reason Andre couldn’t figure out how to operate the back seat belt.

The drive home however was a different story.  The night before we left it started snowing in Reno.  That is never a good sign, and that usually means a LOOOONG snowy drive home.  We took off late the next morning, and while it was snowing, the first hour or so wasn’t bad.  That was until we got past Susanville and made the climb up to the Bogard area.  It starting snowing hard, and the roads were getting covered with a pretty good bed of snow as well.  Once we turned onto highway 44 we were instructed to pull over by some CalTrans workers.

The gentleman asked if I had chains, I didn’t.  Begrudgingly he said he’d let us go because I did have snow tires, and of course four wheel drive, but he said he wasn’t going let many other people through because of poor conditions.

He wasn’t kidding, once I started driving I started to wish he would have forced us back to Susanville.  The conditions were brutal.  I crawled down the road in a world of white.  Everywhere I looked I just saw white, the snow was falling hard, and all I could see was the poles on the side of the road sticking out of the large mounds of snow.  So I just crawled along making sure that I stayed between the poles.  It was maddening, and very stressful.

Jaime did his best to add levity.  Eventually we got behind a snow plow.  For anyone who has driven in snow, this is a good thing.  You slow way down, but you are driving on freshly plowed road which is nice.  Soon we noticed that there was another plow in front of the plow I was following.  Jaime found this very amusing, and let out a loud, “Whoa!  Check it out!  Plow on Plow action!”

This gave us all a good laugh.  Before I knew it the worst was over, and we were in Shingletown, then Redding.

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A year or so after the Reno drive, I met my wife to be, and not long after that, I got a dog.  It became very apparent that a Jeep Wrangler is best suited for single people with no dogs.  (or at least very small dogs, mine doesn’t apply to that description…)  It was a chore finding a way to load my dog,  backpacking gear, camping stuff, or whatever into the Jeep.  I found myself on quite a few occasions trading my Jeep with my Dad’s SUV for weekends so I could take everything I needing on camping or backpacking trips.

Finally, late last year, I made the somewhat sad realization that the Jeep had to go.  We had gotten a large 4 door truck to haul gear and the dog around in, and the Jeep was now just an unused 3rd vehicle.

So I listed the Jeep, and sold it to the first person to look at it.  An older gentleman who looked really excited to own my Wrangler.  I’ll say this, even though Jeeps are impractical, they are super fun, and really hold their value well.  “Ahhh sthold it!” for almost the same price I paid for it 5+ years earlier.

Here is the Jeep just hours before it left my driveway for good.

I miss that car.