I’ve always wanted a Jeep.
Well, maybe that’s not exactly true. Probably a better way to put it is that I’ve always wanted a four-wheel drive vehicle, whether it’s a truck, Jeep or SUV. To me, there’s just something exciting and adventurous about rumbling through the woods on a dirt trail, slamming into mud puddles and scrambling over rocks at break-neck speed.
My wife, Karen, completely disagrees with this sentiment. She has a more practical view concerning the proper use of a vehicle, which means she prefers minivans and four-door sedans. To her, anything that does more than tote groceries and kids is unnecessary and more than likely costs too much.
Considering my wife’s firm opinions about such matters, you might think I would be absolutely crazy to purchase an off-road vehicle. And yet, that’s exactly what I did.
You see, I worked for a car dealership when we lived in Troy. It seemed like every day I spotted a truck or SUV I wanted desperately, but failed to pull the trigger due to plain fear of my wife’s wrath.
One day, however, everything changed. A green Jeep Wrangler showed up on the lot. To make things worse, it wasn’t just any Wrangler, it was a Rubicon, which means it can do just about anything off-road. Not only does it have four-wheel drive capability, it also has lockers front and rear and features an electronic disconnect for the sway bar.
As I contemplated purchasing this vehicle, I came to realize I had no idea what all of this stuff would actually do. But, I didn’t care. I bought it anyway and drove it home that night, hoping and praying Karen would let me live so I could drive my new toy the next morning.
Thankfully, I survived the night. I was able to accomplish this feat by pointing out all of the safety features of the vehicle and emphasizing, with great detail, how we could use it in our everyday lives. Plus, I asked her to just imagine how much fun the whole family would have riding through the woods with the wind in our hair. You surely couldn’t do that with a minivan.
Having escaped Karen’s wrath, the next morning I drove my new baby to work. In fact, I’ve driven it to work every day for three years. The only problem is that I’ve never taken it off-road, which was the reason I bought it in the first place.
“To be honest, I’ve put it in four-wheel drive mode exactly twice, and both times have been in my front yard. That’s ridiculous when the best off-road trip you’ve taken started and ended less than 20 yards from your front door.”
As you might imagine, all of this has not gone over well with Karen. Since the day I bought it, she has recommended (that’s a nice way of putting it) that I sell it and purchase something more practical and economical, like the dreaded minivan.
As the months dragged on, she began to wear me down with constant reminders of my foolishness. I eventually began to contemplate trading my dream for something less exciting.
However, all of that changed when we moved back to Cullman. You see, I had no idea Cullman was building its own off-road park. Well, it’s not an actual off-road park, but it sure feels like it. If you’ve recently driven in Cullman, you know exactly what I mean.
Do the concrete barriers on Highway 278 bother you? Not me – I can roll over them in my Rubicon. What about the seemingly endless grooved pavement that has appeared all over town?
Not a problem. I can lock my differential and manage just fine. Can I handle the thick edges of blacktop that pop into existence overnight when only half the road is paved? You bet – I simply disengage my sway bar and rumble over it like an off road champ.
So, I would like to thank the Alabama Department of Transportation, the City of Cullman and any other involved government agency for keeping our local roads torn up for what seems like a lifetime. The off-road experience has allowed me to justify to my wife the purchase of my beloved Jeep.
Keep up the good work. Your construction of Cullman’s off-road adventure park might help me convince her we need the Jeep in order to drive around town. After all, what could be more practical?
Roger Steele’s column publishes on a regular basis in The Times. Contact Roger at email@example.com or 256-734-2131.