It's like an epidemic

Sketchy bought a Wrangler. 2002, navy blue, 5spd, 4cyl.

Gary and I both tried to talk him out of it, but I think he got the bug when I took Neckbone’s Rubby over to his place. True, he never actually rode in it, but he had mentioned a desire to ride around without the doors on a vehicle.

Sketchy and I are in the same line of work, and I don’t think it’ll take too much of these inflated gas prices to regret his purchase, which is sad – yeah, only $12k, but I don’t think he’ll be in a position to buy another car for awhile.

I’m strangely not jealous. Yeah, I need to borrow Neckbone’s wrench so we can get Sketchy’s doors off this weekend, but driving around a Wrangler for two weeks was more than enough to quell my desire for one of those awesome machines — well, that and the ridiculously high gas prices. ($2.33 for the low-end shit is the best I can find. Ouch.) I might, someday, buy a Wrangler again — but if I do, it’ll only be a second car.

Sketchy’s got the same mind-set: the Wrangler is a second car, he didn’t sell his MR2.

On the other hand, how much of a first-car can his MR2 be without a clutch?

Pirates of the Rubicon

I put some CD’s in the borrowed Rubicon for my listening pleasure while driving. Sunday, after dropping my dad off, I put my soundtrack of “Pirates of the Carribbean” in a green plastic CD case and set it on the passenger seat. Heading north on 29, I realized with a start it was gone, and assumed the wind had gotten ahold of it and it was bouncing around some Columbia neighborhood at the moment. However, when I got home I opened all the doors, looked under all the seats, checked the doors pockets and the lock box. No CD. I thought it was long gone, and I mourned it because its the best, coolest, freshest, most thrill-inspiring orchestral theme I’ve heard in a long time.

Flash forward two days, and I took the Rubicon up to work (after I was off, relax) to show Gary. He and Jamal came out, and while Gary looked at the wheels and pointed out the wider flares, Jamal looked under the hood. Gary opened the passenger side door … and there, standing upright besides the seat, was the CD.

of road trips

Gas was $2.13 in Princess Anne. The cheapest I could find it in Timonium was $2.25. It was $2.34 in Columbia.

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We made it back to Columbia in two hours and thirty-five minutes, and with all the troopers on the road, we made sure not to speed. Also, traffic was super light.

We saw a speeder in a black pickup get pulled over by a trooper on a cop-bike.

I think I saw Kirk — of 98Rock fame — in Salisbury. It might not have been him, but it was a black guy in a red dune buggy, and although we passed at a reasonable high rate of speed, it did look like him.

My uncle Bill was happy that we showed up because he got to twist my dad’s arm into helping him mow the grass at the old farm. I was also happy because while they were doing that, I got to swim in the pool … with a bunch of dead Japanese beetles.

A big striped tabby whose name I forgot about a second after I learned it – they have six cats on the property – found a nice comfortable perch on the top of the Jeep’s rear seat and had a nice sunbath.

When we left, I tried to hug Bill. “Men don’t hug,” he informed me. Dad and I then gave each other a big hug and it was all he could do not to smack us.

Bill was wearing a t-shirt featuring Calvin pissing on a Ford logo. He drives Chevys. And a Honda.

(We’ve also hugged in the past).

My paternal grandmother didn’t recognize me — not surprising, she never does. I just held her hand during the visit — not much of a point talking, seems someone in Salisbury sent over the wrong hearing aid.

I am bright red, because while I remembered to put sunblock on before heading out the door, I forgot to put some back on after swimming.

The lab was so happy to see me that when I opened the sliding glass door … she ran face-first into the closed screen door. She gave me this look that said, “If you laugh, I kill you.”

After nearly six hours in that Wrangler, I think I might be cured of my obsession.

My right shoulder – perhapd because of spending six hous in the Jeep – aches.

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After …

… bouncing around in a Wrangler for the last three hours, even trying to sit down on the cold metal chair that serves for computer work, I still feel like I’m bouncing around some god-forsaken back road in that kidney-shakin’ machine!

(God I love it!)

(I’m never giving it back)

(ok, yes I am)

The NEW 2007 Wrangler

Popular Mechanics did a story on an upcoming redisgn of my favorite subject ever! (Well, favorite obsession, ever …)

A redesigned Wrangler will debut for the 2007 model year in both the traditional two-door configuration as shown here, as well as a new four-door variant sitting on a longer wheelbase. A pickup derivative is a likely addition sometime during the next Wrangler’s lifecycle.

Codenamed TK, the upcoming Wrangler may have a fixed top with removable panels, instead of the soft and/or hardtop offerings. A fold-down front windshield and removable doors, of course, are expected.

Although traditional in its styling, look for some cues from the Jeep Rescue concept to make it all the way to the production Wrangler.

First impression? No soft top? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Jeep, don’t be an idiot, Wranglers need SOFT TOPS. Wrangler hard tops are a WASTE OF WHATEVER THE EFF THEY’RE MADE OF!

Second impression — all good news, but this means if I buy a new Wrangler, I’ll be looking to wait until 2008, because: a) I don’t want to wind up shelling out a shit load of cash just so I can have the “new” body-style when it first comes out, b) by waiting a year, whatever technical issues they have with the new body style will be worked out, it won’t be in as much demand, and Quadratec will have some custom shit out for it.

Third impression – a Rescue-ish Wrangler is going to kick ass. The Jeep Rescue was a concept vehicle Jeep built a few years ago. The original word was that they were going to use the bodystyle to restart the old “Commander” line, or that they were going to use it to replace the Cherokee (they did that, instead, with the it’s-growing-on-me-slowly Liberty).

The coolest thing about the Rescue is that it takes its visual styling directly from the Wrangler, and updates it a bit. It’s a modern version of the classic, and just as when you look at the Wrangler you see a WWII Willy, so when you look at the Rescue do you STILL see the WWII Willy.

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Anyway … I’m excited. I’d be more excited if Jeep made this, though. Drool.

(PS – I hope its available in ELECTRIC LIME GREEN)

(PSS – and six-speed manual transmission, with optional pop-up anti-deer/pedestrians/slow-driver counter-measures)

Oahu Edition

I got a message on my voice mail from my sister E. today. Actually, she sent it last night but I didn’t see it until this morning when I had no time to check it, and then I completely forgot about it until just a few hours ago.

E. is a public school teacher in Hawaii. She’s beginning her second year there, and will shortly be moving to a new apartment with two new roomates, one of whom is our cousin M. who recently graduated college and accepted a position at a school very close — honestly, for all I know they’ll be working at the same school — to where my sister works.

When my sister first moved to Hawaii she bought a cheap Hyundai from a Marine who was being transfered to the mainland. She’d wanted to ship her Toyota over, but that was, uh, expensive. Plus she was renting an entire place by herself — right on the beach — and the cost of living on Hawaii is fairly … expensive. And that makes sense, considering just about everything has to be imported to the island. Unless you’re willing to subsist on a diet of pineapples and sugar, and live in a Volcano vent, I mean, let’s face it, you’re going to be shelling out major green just to get by.

Anyway, my sister hated the Hyundai. Hated it. So she started talking about buying a new car, and we had a short discussion when she was over here a few weeks ago. She wanted a small Toyota SUV, maybe. See, she’d tried to buy a Volkswagen Jetta, but the incompotent and possibly thieving salespeople at the dealership didn’t have the proper paperwork for the car (the papers were still on the mainland), and they kept telling her, “Come back tomorrow…” and then eventually “Come back next week…” (I’m not entirely certain how accurate this account is as I heard it several different ways from several different folks) So my sister went to an employee of the school system for help — I think he’s a teacher, but on the side he works to help new employees from the mainland adjust to life on the islands. Anyway, he went in to the dealership, kicked some ass, and the Hyundai was returned, the paperwork voided out, and many apologies handed down.

So, the message I got went something like this, “Hey, I’m at the dealership now … I’m looking at a 2001 Jeep Wrangler …” she then started listing the specifications of it, but I have to admit, I sort of went into shock and my brain screamed NOT FAIR!!!!!

Actually, I was kind of excited, because she was calling me for advice and I rarely get to act in my Big Brother role.

Talking to her on the phone I learned she passed on the Jeep. The payments would be too high, and although her rent would decrease when she moved, she wanted to pay down her credit cards. “We know how our family is with them,” she pointed out. Smacked down by my own sister! The little … She also mentioned something Dad had told her, “You can’t buy a Jeep! Jeff’ll kill you!”

No I wouldn’t.

On the other hand, it would probably motivate me to go out and visit her on the island.

(E. has long talked about moving off of Hawaii – she doesn’t really like it – and moving to another state. She’s mentioned Oregon and Colorado in the past. Tonight she told me she might move back to Maryland at the end of next year, which means she might be his new coworker).

a pit bull is to a wrangler …

There a lot of things about people’s behavior that I don’t get. Like, just now, the woman in the Acura Integra who knew she had to get in the left lane to make her turn, but waited until she was two car-lengths from the light to try to merge — finding my vehicle and two behind me blocking her, she slammed on her brakes and damn near caused the guy behind her to crash into her rear. I mean, why risk an accident when you could just get into the lane earlier? Or find a place to turn around?

Likewise, this story, which I was going to do a bit more about. I heard about it on WHFS’ afternoon show “Out to Lunch”. But one of the two guys – I can’t tell Big O from Dukes – made a comment that just had me slam my hand into my steering wheel and exclaim, “Yes! That’s true!”

It seems a woman was afraid of her pit bulls. So she went out to run some errands, and instructed her son to lock himself in their basement and either have a shovel at hand or use a shovel to reinforce the door. When she got back she

found her son’s body in a bedroom. He was covered in blood from several wounds, including a major head injury.

One of the two OTL guys hates pit bulls and doesn’t understand why people keeps them. He made very good points to the cons of pit bull ownership, and of course people called up to defend owning pit bulls. One man (an owner himself) said that pit bull ownership required doing homework on the species, and that he would never keep kids and pit bulls in the same house. So, anyone, whichever of the two OTL guys hates the dogs started bitching about how all pit bull owners band together to defend their dog-owning choices. Then he said, “They’re like Jeep owners! Those guys wave to each other!”

Anyway, that last bit made my day.

who needs a left foot when you can have an automatic transmission?

Who needs a radio when you can listen to … uh …

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The interior of Robin’s Jeep. He’s happy he was able to get his trade-ins to cover its cost. “I don’t care that it doesn’t have a radio, or that it’s automatic transmission.* Hah-hah. I have a Jeep, you don’t, nany-nany-boo-boo.”

Ass.

*It also doesn’t have a backseat. He claims that’s so he doesn’t have to drive his wife anywhere in it. “I bought this for my fun, not hers.”

he thinks I'm deaf?

Yesterday after work I went over to this bloke’s house to try to get the doors off his Jeep. As I wrote here, a doorless Jeep makes for both a “hell of a fun experience” as well – and more importantly – “a right of passage.”

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As you can see, we got the doors off. Actually, it was funny, we first tried getting his doors off last week — the passenger side door, anyway — and the damn thing just wouldn’t budge. I asked my own personal source of Everything a Jeep Owner Would Want To Know, my boss Gary, for advice. He said to rock the door back and forth as you lifted, so we tried that, and it worked. It took a few minutes to get the door off, but Neckbone and I did. The driver’s side door came off considerably easier, possibly because it gets more useage.

Once we’d removed the doors and stuck ’em in Neckbone’s basement, behind the couch (near the hardtop, and I’m sure the plastic side panels were down there somewhere too), we had to figure out which fuse to yank — see, without the doors to hold the watchamacallit in place, the interior light was on. Anyway, I remember that my fuse box was behind the glovebox, so I take that out and then Neckbone leans across the passenger seat and points to where the door would have been, and said, “Get the owner’s manual, it’s in the door pocket … oh, uh…”

Some guessing finally revealed which fuse was the correct one to pluck, and we took off, heading north into Phoenix, then back through Cockeysville. Our trip took us over this bridge, and Allison was right – it is fucking cool.

I felt bad, because on our drive, everytime Neckbone said something, I had to ask him to repeat it three or ten times … what with the air rushing past and the music and all … (he must think I’m deaf). I did hear him say, several times, and I’m paraphrasing here but along the lines of, “This is effin’ awesome!!!!”

Damn tootin’.

poppin' the jeep cherry

There’s a slogan well known among Jeep owners: “It’s a Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.”

I didn’t understand, fully, until I sold mine. That was early July 2003. I’d put $2000 worth of work into her the previous winter, and some of the same problems cropped right back up. This isn’t so much a problem with the Wrangler brand so much as it is the problem with putting 25,000 miles on your vehicle every year in sometimes very rough conditions.

I was tired of a Jeep. It would make a great second car, absolutely, but the gas mileage and the discomfort had overwhelmed me. My original plan had been to pay off the Jeep – I would have done that within the year – and then buy a second car, while keeping the Jeep. Sadly, with no savings account and a rush decision to sell, that wasn’t an option. I traded in my Jeep for a sporty Celica, but don’t think I haven’t looked back (not so much in regret for selling as regret as not planning things better so I could’ve bought a new car and kept the Jeep).

I bought my Jeep in June of 1999. She was an SE 4-cyl ’98 with 12,000 miles on her. She was a blueish gray with full steel doors. That was the summer I moved to Towson, and much fun was had with the Jeep. (This guy’s Jeep is the same color as mine).

I can remember me, my roomate Ben, and our friend Mohammed driving back to the apartment from Taco Bell, and Mo kept standing up in the back seat. Refusing to listen to my instructions that he should sit down, I slammed on the brakes and he damn near cracked his chest open on the rollbar. “I’m sitting, I’m sitting …” I can remember being down in Ocean City the week after turning 21, and being too drunk to drive, so sitting in the backseat as my roomie’s sober-friend drove us up Coastal Highway (first and only time I’ve sat in the rear seat).

One of my early goals with the Jeep was to remove the doors. Simple enough, right? Just remove the bolts, and lift. Yeah, but I didn’t have the right tool to get the bolt off – it’s like a $3 wrench, but, eh, what’d I know? Finally, that second summer, I borrowed my neighbors’ tools and got the bolts off. I lifted the doors off the hinges, popped the fuse, and was able to drive with no doors!

I guess you could say that, for a Jeep owner, removing the doors is a right of passage. I tell you what, it makes driving a hell of a fun experience — I remember heading into Phoenix with Allison one day, over the Warren/Merryman’s Mill Road Bridge. The bridge has a grated deck, and she leaned out and looked down and clapped, exclaiming, “This is sooooo cool!”

On the other hand, there were a few instances where I would be caught in the open when it began to rain … with no doors. See, I was at the point where I could get the top up in about twenty-seconds (if I was moving slowly) if I was willing to forgo the side panels (which I usually was). But since I always stored the doors at home … well, I’d usually get a little damp (i.e., soaked).

Tonight, I hope to help this fella get the doors off his Jeep. It’s an amazing and damn near godly experience.

what the hell is wrong with me?

Five minutes searching eBay motors and I actually applied online for credit to see if I can buy this.
See, I knew this was going to happen yesterday — two days ago, actually — when this guy was popping open his twentieth beer and asking me, “Hey, if you’re not drinking anymore, and you’re serious about driving back…”

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(That is a beautiful Jeep… needs a soundbar…4-cyl engine: but fuck it, my ’98 was a 4-cyl, I can deal, I can deal … I even like the paint!)

UPDATE:

Thank goodness, I was declined! I mean, on one hand, I should be all “Oh, my credit should be better than that!” But on the other hand, I really don’t need to spend six-grand on a Jeep.