Breaking in the Little Black Jeep

Oh sure, I have a Jeep. Now what do I do with it?

Break it in, that’s what. But gently.

13 Mile Creek Trip

(click on the link for a quick video of the little black jeep in action)

And by that, I mean we packed up Aquacache & the original Geocache Command Center and headed out to do some cachin’ and jeepin’ outside of Ripley, WV.

We started off super easy. As in we left the jeeps at the bottom of a hill and hiked up to get the cache.  Which is strange, since I thought this entire having a Jeep thing involved less walking and more driving. Shows what I know. Maybe I needed to loosen my clutch foot up or something.

After that there was considerably less walking. And much much more driving.  After watching Aquacache take his (lifted and so forth) loaded Jeep up a slightly questionable trail – questionable to a newbie jeep owner – I overcame my early misgivings and decided I was going up there and I was not doing it via foot.

I was pretty happy with myself when I made it to the top without freaking out or looking (as far as I could tell) ridiculous.

Coming down was a little daunting since it sure looked steeper from the driver’s seat than it did standing. But what goes up must eventually come down, especially if I wanted to go home. So Chad went down to take photos of me (I’m hoping he wasn’t thinking he’d need it for the life insurance claim – or perhaps he was somewhat frightened by my driving).

I made it down to the bottom in one piece, so did the Jeep and I didn’t even manage to run Chad over. Not too shabby.

Most of the day passed without incident, until we entered the bypass portion of the trip. And by bypass portion I mean we hit an area so riddled with fourwheeler holes, ruts and obstacles that I almost got physically ill. Almost. I was holding it together pretty well until we got out to see if we could fit through the trees and take an alternate, less rutted, less mud-o-rific route. Through the trees. Did I mention that? And having decided we could make it through the trees (Aquacache having done the deciding) we did a little trail maintenance (by we I mean Aquacache because Chad won’t let me use my machete). At which point I got back in my poor little black jeep. You know the one I had owned a mere 32 days and tried to not get physically ill.

Because he did the deciding, Aquacache got to go first. I got to sit in the Jeep and try not to get ill. And Chad handled the video production portion of the trip. Sometimes Chad is smarter than I give him credit for. After managing to slide into a tree (and yet do no damage) the first jeep got through.Which left me sitting there on the verge of completely freaking out.

At that point my choices were as follows:

1. Freak out completely.

2. Get out of the jeep and tell the guys that one of them was driving it through the slalom of manglement.

3. Barf

4. Man up and drive.

I had a little talk with myself that went like this. “Absolutely NO barfing in your jeep. Now man up and drive.”

Having thusly motivated myself. And with my spotter and videographer in place, I started forward into the slalom of manglement. And got royally stuck.

I tried to rock forward. Still stuck. Rock back. Still stuck. Look up and Chad is walking toward me taking photos. As you can see by the time he reached me, I probably did not have to tell him in no uncertain terms that taking photos was NOT helping me. I didn’t have to, but I did. Wise man that he is, he put the camera down.

And so I was back to my original position of trying really hard not to freak out and barf in my own jeep. Which was about the time that Aquacache came over to assess the situation and advised me that one of my wheels was no longer in contact with anything and I happened to be on a mud-covered pipe or tree or something. AWESOME.

With not much else to do, I gave the rocking another try and managed to get enough purchase to pull free.

My spirits buoyed and the desire to barf partly quenched I was ready to take on the actual slalom of manglement.

Not only did I manage (with help from my spotter) to navigate the slalom of manglement, I missed the tree that he slid into. which was good, because I was not sure how I was going to explain to Dad that I was probably going to need a new _______________ (fill in the blank) only one month into my career as a Jeep owner.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I was happy to turn the keys and steering wheel over to Chad so he could have some fun. Also, I needed to let my heart rate get back to normal and to unclench my jaw. I was in danger of my teeth fusing together.

Chad seemed nonplussed about the entire driving through rutted out, mud hole-filled, crazy slippery “roads” (and believe me, the word roads needs every bit of those quotes).

And as we headed down a rock strewn “road” he seemed not to notice when we hit a rock with the jeep’s oil pan area. Me, I winced like I was hit. And from the walkie talkie I heard “It’s fine, you’ve got a skid plate.” Gee, thanks for the words of encouragement. Nothing like having the peanut gallery in front of you.

At the end of the day we emerged covered in mud, geocaches found, photos taken, exhausted and undamaged.

So yeah, I’m totally glad I gave up the Triumph for the Jeep. Best Decision EVER.

chris on December 28th 2010 in Geocaching, Vehicles

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