My brother and I have had incredible experiences and great memories of the various family Jeeps we have had over the years. In high school, as we came of age, the Jeep was the kids’ vehicle when it wasn’t being used to carry our hunting gear. Driving to school with the roof off and the windshield down regardless of weather, was a rite of passage… a tradition passed on from one child to the next. Aside from providing us with a way to get around, the Jeep also taught us a lot of valuable life lessons.  

One day while hunting, the right rear wheel broke off at the axle. It was just Dad, Randy and me and we were miles from camp in the middle of the woods. Cell phones to be able to call for help did not yet exist. We pondered our predicament and finally came up with a solution. We unwound the wench that was attached to the front of the Jeep and brought it around the driver’s side of the roll bar and then back down to the broken axle on the right rear of the Jeep. We cranked up the wench and lifted the axle off the ground. By putting it in 4-wheel drive and with my weight on the very front bumper of the Jeep, we were then able to limp home in no time. Just being in the woods with the Jeep helped teach us how to solve problems.

About every 7 years, the local authorities would lower our lake for environmental reasons. On one of those occasions, Dad decided that it was time for us to cross the lake bottom in the Jeep just to be able to say that we had done it. Most of the lake bottom was shallow water mixed with areas of exposed sand.

We started on one end of the lake and made our way down the sloped shore line to the lake bottom. We began our journey in shallow water but as it got a little deeper, Dad started to get nervous. He asked us boys to walk in front of the Jeep just to make sure we did not fall into any holes. That was not our idea of crossing the lake in the Jeep, so we compromised with him. We agreed to sit on the hood of the Jeep to “look out” and if the water got past mid hubcap then we would get off and walk.

Unfortunately, all of us forgot about the channel that had been made for larger boats to get to the local marina. When we fell into it, the front of the Jeep just disappeared under water. Randy and I scrambled back towards the windshield and saw dad holding the steering wheel with water up to his chest. It was not a happy sight. We all made it to the back of the Jeep and then made it to shore while the Jeep gradually disappeared below the water.

The next day the headlines of the local newspaper read “Hey Dad Water’s Deep…Where’s Jeep?”. We recovered it with a tow truck which provided quite a bit of entertainment for the locals that had gathered to see the spectacle. Afterwards, with very little maintenance, it started right up and ran just fine.

For our family, a Jeep created many wonderful experiences. It pulled our boat, hauled our hunting gear…took us to school and to football games…it carried us through ditches and bogs while hunting. It made us feel stronger and more powerful because it could go anywhere. Even when it got stuck, it somehow managed to get itself and us out. It got us out of impossible situations and always brought us home. It was an unwitting partner in our upbringing and I will always be grateful for it.

In many ways, the family Jeep represents what family and friends do for us. They keep us going…they create memories and traditions…they get us out of tough situations…they bring us safely home.

Wroxx…Gear for the Journey.

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