How Old Is Your Jeep In Dog Years?

It’s pretty common knowledge that a dog ages quicker than people do. What is also commonly perceived is that one year for a dog is the equivalent to seven human years, which is a bit of a misconception. The very first year a canine is alive, it undergoes significant development and actually matures at a rate equivalent to 15 human years. The following second year of life, the dog ages around 12 years and declines a little each year thereafter. I guess the seven years is a bit of a mean average across a dogs suspected lifespan.

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I think that Jeeps, in general, have a somewhat similar aging pattern to that of a dog, but in reverse. The first year on the road for a new Jeep is equivalent to an actual year, taking for granted that the proper maintenance program is upheld and the mileage is kept to a civil rate. The new Jeep maintains its year-for-year rate of aging for the first few years of its life; until the day the Jeep owner’s curiosity for the unknown has them wandering away from the pavement and searching to discover a little more about their vehicles capabilities. On that day, the clock is quickened to double its original pace. Whether in the first year or the fifth, the Jeep begins to age at a rate of two years per year, once it has adopted the tendency for off-road driving habits.

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As the vehicle ages and compiles mileage, the wear and tear on the frame, chassis and mechanical components begins to compound. By the time the vehicle has reached 100,000 miles, or seven calendar years old, its rate of aging is around 3 years per year. That’s six years per if you’re busy climbing rock ledges or straddling crevasses on a regular basis. At this point, you’ll find yourself performing repairs at almost every turn. This aggressive schedule of addressing issues as they appear is the only thing that stabilizes your Jeeps rapid pattern of mechanical decline. Short of a complete overhaul and major rebuild, your Jeep will continue to age at a rate of 3 to 6 years for every New Year that passes, until that day when its fate is finally sealed.

My personal Jeep is a 1993 model which I bought in 2007. The first 14 years of its life, it was kept almost entirely stock and was fitted with highway tires that would turn utterly useless in the mud. It had compiled some 120,000 miles on the clock in its first dozen or so years. The 11 years that I have owned it, the old YJ has been plagued with massive tires, lift kits, heavy bumpers and tons of less-than-ideal driving conditions while enrolled in an extensive program of perpetual upgrade. By my calculations, my Jeep would be roughly 60 years old in dog years, and that’s if I grade on the curve. 60…That’s a pretty startling number when you stop and think about it; bottom line and best case scenario, it’s truly 25 years old on a regular Gregorian calendar making it an antique in the states opinion. Maybe sixty is not that outlandish…

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So for my YJ’s true 25th birthday, I am going to defy the odds, throw the proverbial caution to the wind and embark on a trek to the place it was born, Toledo, Ohio, and attend the Toledo Jeep Fest in August. In careful consideration for its propsed 60 years of age and the 1,400 grueling miles that lie ahead of it, I am undertaking massive amounts of maintenance on the old Wrangler in preparation for hours of driving at highway speeds. This includes touching virtually every suspension component to validate its integrity, replacing aging seals and bearings, renewing fluids and lubricants; maybe even a few cosmetic upgrades will be in order so my baby doesn’t necessarily look like an over-the-hill has-been. I’ve been around cars long enough to know that, even with the best of preparations in place, the likelihood of some level of catastrophe occurring is pretty favorable. With such impending doom, it’s understandable that I simply can’t wait…

To help document my voyage, we’ll be posting pictures from the road featuring sights and scenery from our travels and blogging a bit about the experience as we go. I am very hopeful that none of the coverage will feature dripping fluids, shredded tire carcasses or billowing plumes of smoke or steam. That seems about as likely as taking a trip to the zoo and hoping to not smell any unpleasantries…or you could say, pretty darn unlikely.

Our trip will begin on Wednesday, August 8th and we’ll share all the fun from the Toledo Jeep Fest when we arrive on Friday, August 10th and through the entire weekend. Make sure to follow the adventure on the Rugged Ridge Facebook page as well as at yourjeepyouradventure.com . We hope you can follow along! OlllllllO

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Find a Genie in a Bottle? Read On…

GenieJeepEver since we were little kids, we’ve been tempted with the possibility of stumbling upon a brilliantly-embellished jug that, when rubbed properly, would yield a beautiful, scantily-clad genie who would grant you three wishes. In all fairness, some of the genies are heavyset and male but my preference prevails in this story. While the possibility of such a wish-granting enchantress actually existing in our world is pretty darn low, what kind of person, when given such an opportunity, would then rattle-off a checklist of Jeep parts without ever addressing the bigger issues like world hunger and global peace? I beg of you…please don’t answer that.

I was recently talking with a magazine editor who was compiling a comprehensive ‘Top 10’ list of upgrades for Jeep owners. My responses to his inquiry seemed more and more difficult to assemble the more I thought about the question. Obviously, the chosen ten could vary greatly depending on the particular owner, the current status of the Jeep and would then need to be tailored to what it is they want to do with the Jeep. So what if the chosen Jeep was a bone-stock model and you needed the mod to fit the bill no matter who owned it or what path they have in mind for the Jeep in the end? What single upgrade or mod would you whole-heartedly recommend?

The easy answer for any Jeep owner to do as their first upgrade, in my opinion, would be wheels & tires. With such an incredible number of wheel styles available from the aftermarket, it’s the easiest way to make your Jeep distinctly your very own. A wisely-chosen wheel package can entirely change the look of a Jeep in one simple step. Unfortunately, it’s also the “gateway” mod to a never-ending list of other modifications. If you get larger wheels and tires, the need for a lift kit will make itself known almost immediately. And once lifted and decked out in new massive rubber, the drivability of the rig will leave you wanting for a re-gearing to recapture some of the prior performance or economy. Be warned that the pursuit for perfection never ends but the quest is massive amounts of fun.

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Even if the existing tires on the Jeep are in relatively good condition, replacing them with something more suited to your taste and personal preference is a pretty safe bet. You can even offset the cost of the new wheels and tires by liquidating the old set on Craigslist or through any number of online Jeep forums. There is quite a rabid market for reasonably priced factory wheels and usable tires. Besides, I think it was Ben Franklin who once said “It’s always better to have a few bucks in the billfold than a hi-rise spider hotel in your garage.” On second thought, it could have been Paul Revere.

What could you choose as a second wish that would be an upgrade to satisfy any Jeeper no matter the Jeep? I don’t think you can go wrong with a quality set of floor liners. Often the factory floor liners are made from auto grade carpet and just aren’t up to the conditions that a Jeep is prone to endure. Carpet needs to be protected from snow, mush and muck. Being able to climb into my Jeep with mud-caked boots with no real regard for the well-being of my floorboards is very liberating. Sure, you can get some universal vinyl mats from the corner auto parts store but the fit is going to be less than perfect, not to mention less than durable. Face it, your Jeep is worthy of so much more.

Floor Liners, Front, Black; 76-95 Jeep CJ5/CJ7/CJ8/Wrangler YJ Custom fit black All Terrain Floor Liners front pair, fits 1976-1983 CJ5 1976-1986 Jeep CJ7 and CJ8, and 1987-1995 Jeep Wrangler YJ Rugged Ridge Floor liners provide complete protection for the cabin floor of your vehicle while keeping it looking factory fresh. Each liner is perfectly contoured to your vehicle's floor for precise secure fitment (floor hook attachment where applicable). The raised lip captures all spills, water and debris keeping your interior pristine. The Chevron-shape patented Deep Tread Technology channels liquid away from your shoes keeping them dry. Made of a durable OE-quality Thermoplastic material that can withstand the rigor of daily abuse. Backed by our Limited Lifetime Warranty. Patent No. 8,163,369; D627,285; 2,699,641

Assuming that world peace & hunger have already been tabled for the purposes of this article, we are left with a single upgrade for which to beg our genies consideration. My answer to this final quandary will allow for a measured dose of personal inclination. Based on what you most want from your Jeep, choose an upgrade that takes you the farthest towards your goal.

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Maybe the vision of what your Jeep needs to be is clear or maybe not so much. Until you are certain what Jeep you want to build, don’t commit to many mods that determine any given outcome. For example, if you are going to be daily driving the Jeep, you might steer clear of enormous lifts and 40-inch tires. Likewise, if you plan to do some mild trail riding, you might want to invest in some armor to protect your exteriors appearance rather than things to beautify it.

Rugged Ridge Armor Fenders for Wrangler JK are not just another bolt-on accessory. We developed our Armor Fenders with such a brawny & bold styling; they’re capable of transforming your rig into an unmistakable, attention-grabbing shadow if its former self. High body lines and aggressively arched wheel openings provide greater clearance for larger tires and allow for improved wheel travel and articulation off-road. Each fender is constructed of heavy gauge 3 mm thick steel, utilizing fold-and-weld construction, for greater structural integrity you can appreciate. Each section is meticulously finished with a resilient black textured powder coat that protects from real-world road hazards. The rear Armor fenders revolutionary 2-piece design allows for full encasing of the taillight and allows for a fitment that is free of gaps for tight fitment and unsurpassed protection while the front Armor fenders integrated vent screen helps expel engine heat for better overall performance. Installation is simplified with the addition of our Gen 2 Inner Fender Liners so there’s no need to modify your factory parts in the process. Armor fenders work with all factory components as well as Rugged Ridge Spartan Grill, Aluminum Hood Catches and even Rubicon Rock Rails. Includes marker light assemblies, hardware and complete installation instructions. Patent Pending.

Many Jeep owners have no off-road aspirations whatsoever but still want to have an aggressive, capable- appearing trail beast that will likely never leave pavement. Outfitting any Jeep with narrow width off-road bumpers with recovery points and high-clearance fenders can be all it takes to covert a showroom stocker to a trail-ready rocker, especially when complemented by the larger rolling stock we secured in our first wish. Even if the benefit of the upgrade is purely visual, making your Jeep become the one you see in your dreams is what it’s all about. Getting to that point as efficiently and economically as possible is the goal…especially if you don’t have a genie in a bottle.  OlllllllO

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A Meager Attempt at Deciphering the “Jeep Wave”

If you’ve ever driven a Jeep, particularly the breed without a fixed roof, you certainly are all-too-familiar with the cultural phenomenon known as the “Jeep Wave”- a universally accepted social gesture that is as equally deeply-rooted in the Americana of our great country as it is both misunderstood and under-appreciated. How is it that a simple wave, in passing, could somehow be more than that?7113uRUOriL._SY550_

The suspected origin of our revered wave goes way back to a time when our country was embroiled in the throes of World War II, a conflict which engaged our nation’s people unlike any other event ever had. A byproduct of this engagement was symbolized in the way that corporations stepped up to support the war effort in any way they were able. Companies like Ford and Willys-Overland were called upon to produce four-wheel drive reconnaissance vehicles for use by troops and military personnel, both at home and abroad. Out of ingenuity and necessity, the great-grandfather of today’s Jeep Wrangler was born in the form of Ford GPW and Willys MA & MB, or “jeeps” as they were often called by Army personnel.

As G.I.’s scurried back and forth in their Willys MB’s, they would often give a slight, subtle “wave” to other jeeps passed in their travels as a means of signifying that they were, indeed, allies or friendlies; often nothing more than two fingers raised from a hand otherwise preoccupied with clinching firmly the Willy’s massive steering wheel and keeping it centered in the ruts and out of the ditches. In the interest of safety, there was no rank recognized or observed and no salutes given on these short jaunts, so as not to tip off anyone to the presence of a high ranking officer who was out for am unescorted drive.

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As the war came to a close, the army’s surplus of these vehicles was liquidated and many military soldiers were offered a “war-certified” used Willys Jeep to purchase for little more than a song…some for as little as $400. Many of these were quickly snatched up for use on family farms back home or for basic transportation needs. The sight of these military hand-me-downs grew in regularity leading up to the eventual late 40’s release of the Willys adapted for civilian consumption, the CJ. For this reason, many of the people who drove these vehicles in the years immediately following the war associated closely and personally with another passing Jeep, identifying them as being a “brother”; someone who had also served their country and given a sacrifice similar to their own. Someone worthy of respect and even some level of mutual admiration. With no real intentions, the “Jeep Wave” was born.

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How it continues to thrive today, 75 years later, can only be described as “A Jeep Thing”. Something that no one can truly explain but a phenomenon that anyone that has ever driven a Jeep can certainly attest to.

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SO…why would anybody choose to drive a vehicle where a 10-minute drive to the grocery market can be transformed into an aerobic workout? At some point, would this not become annoying? To answer in a word, No.  Why would anyone, especially someone with the presence of an otherwise sound mind, allow themselves to be instinctively programmed to wave at every Jeep they pass, even in the dark, triggered only by the glow of those tell-tale closely-spaced round headlights? Heck, even when they are driving their “other” vehicles that AREN’T Jeeps – we often still wave!

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I think that today’s version of the “Jeep Wave” can be best analyzed by classifying those people who, by their own choice, drive a Jeep today. These are, in large, people who longs for adventure, love the outdoors, isn’t afraid to get a little wet in a downpour and possessing an inherent understanding that the destination is often not nearly as important as the experience enjoyed in getting there. To own a vehicle with such therapeutic qualities is unbeatable. A 30-minute ride home at sunset with the wind blowing through your hair seems to heal the soul. There really is no equal, even when you take into consideration the relentless task of waving at every Jeep that passes you by.

maxresdefaultSo keep waving when you see a fellow Jeep owner out on the road (Yes, even the ZJs), whether you’re paying homage to the past or celebrating the unique camaraderie we share as fellow Jeepers in the present. Wave, smile and know …..It’s a Jeep Thing!! OlllllllO

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Coming to Grips with the Then & Now

How often do you come across somebody who keeps their high school yearbook on the coffee table, out for everyone to see? Unless graduation was in extremely recent history, I’d be willing to bet those annuals are buried deep in the recesses of the attic. Buried under cardboard boxes of dusty keepsakes and discarded Christmas decorations. Even though our high school years often represent some of our fondest memories and treasured friendships, we in large part don’t want to be reminded of what once was; certainly not in the form of pictures.

Celebrities are often refused this brand of self-seclusion. They are often “outed” by their former class mates eager to share a few rays of the spotlight by exposing their old prep school pals for all to see. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad, but always entertaining.

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When it comes to Jeeps, a ”Before & After” comparison might be more in order. The new 2018 Wrangler JL has only been on the streets a few months and the changes between it and it’s JK predecessor can make for some pretty telling photos, on par with any liposuction or rhinoplasty you can muster…for the better, of course.

 

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The changes observed in the Jeep design over the past decades are too numerous to count and yet, while many of the changes have not been subtle, the effect they have had on the overall image of the Jeep are impressively small. Certainly when compared to any other long-standing car nameplate. Take a minute to enjoy Jeeps yearbook photos past & present!

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When you look at images of Jeep’s past side by side with it’s present, so much has changed and yet so much is still the same. We can confidently display (and, hopefully, still drive) our past while we proudly show off our present and wait patiently for what the future holds. Because Jeep shows it’s age in the best ways possible. OlllllllO

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(SORRY….couldn’t help myself)

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(Oooops…my bad)

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Training Tomorrow’s Heroes

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in their life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers

When it comes to turning wrenches on a Jeep, too many people would write it off as dirty, knuckle-busting work. While this conclusion is more than substantiated, it fully dismisses the larger truth that hard work, and in this case mechanical work, can be nothing short of good medicine.

In the foothills of southern Tennessee, there is an organization that really “gets it”. The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has made it their mission to not only erase the effects of childhood cancer but to optimize the quality of life for these kids as they experience the impact of diagnosis and as they brave the trials of their ongoing treatment. The Foundation has found a way to give these kids and their families a valuable tool with which to fight those daily battles- best of all, it’s a tool that already lies within them. They only need to learn how to access it and perfect it’s usage. In my opinion, what better subject with which to develop their craft than on a Jeep.

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While the Jeep seemed a perfect blank canvas for Hatch’s Kids to practice their magic on, it’s not every day that a brand new Wrangler JKU lands in your lap either, at least not in the real world. Fortunately, the fine folks at the Mtn. View Auto Group see things a little bit differently. They jumped in and fired-up a brand-spanking new Wrangler, hopped on the freeway and dropped it on their doorstep…literally. It still had the paper floor mats in it. But not for long.

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The Austin Hatcher Foundation’s goal was to transform this bone-stock JK into a modern interpretation of the classic Jeepster Commando, an early-70’s rarity that added popular muscle car styling to the time-honored CJ persona. Rugged Ridge donated pile upon pile of parts to accomplish this massive undertaking while Truck ‘N Trailers USA provided enough shop space, lift and tools to build a space shuttle. And to top it off, they’ll accomplish this task with manpower sourced from the families that they serve on a daily basis. Yes…they’re gonna build this beast with kids.

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It was a brilliant plan whose full perfection would not be realized simply or quickly, but through a series of scheduled “Build Days”. Days that were carefully planned to insure success with a project checklist for all to see. A list detailing what needed to be accomplished that day and providing a visual reminder of the team’s successes as items are checked off. While these were likely some tough build days, they are not nearly as tough as the kids who’ve fearlessly tackled them and found ways to laugh and smile through the entire process.

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And now, with all those pesky words out of the way…bask in the glory of Hatch’s Kids building a super-sweet 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Hurst Edition. It doesn’t get any cooler than this.

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So let’s hear it for the Austin Hatcher Foundation family and the outstanding influence this project has had in the lives of these young people. Be sure to keep any eye out for this beauty making appearances at automotive events over the upcoming year. It is possibly half-as-cool as the kids that built it but still way cooler than most anyhting else on the street.  You can find out more about the Austin Hatcher Foundation and the amazing work they perform in the lives of kids affected by cancer by visiting https://www.hatcherfoundation.org/  OlllllllO

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Passing On a Passion

I don’t think anyone ever forgets their very first car. That first set of wheels is something that most people are able to look back on fondly. Not that the car was anything to admire, but because of the fact that, despite its usual cosmetic and mechanical fallacies, your first car represented a newfound sense of personal freedom; the ability to go where you want and do the things you want to do. Of course, hidden in the fine print of this new mobility is all of the responsibility that comes along with this privilege. Your first time making a car payment and fretting over the seemingly wasteful expense of insuring the car are things that stick with you and prepare you for what life has in store for you.

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My first car was not a Jeep, nor was the second, the third or fourth. In fact, I am relatively new to the realm of being a Jeep owner. My first Jeep was purchased a mere 11 years ago- a bone stock 1993 Wrangler YJ complete with de-arched leaf springs and a spice-colored factory soft top that was so advanced in age that just the thought of trying to lower or remove the top caused every stitched seam to disintegrate into handfuls of powdery residue. It was cheap and perfectly fit my primary criteria in that, by unwritten law, I am not able to own any car that I don’t have to repair on a more-than-regular basis. It’s in my DNA, I guess.

Underneath my Jeeps crappy exterior lurked a beast of similar unfulfilled potential. A pint-sized 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine capable of generating a staggering 119 hp in ideal conditions had grown weary of its daily duties. In comparison, the AX-5 five-speed transmission proved to be so efficient at its job that it was able to reach top speed of 57 mph while still in fourth gear, making fifth gear utterly useless unless hauling a load of Quik-rete down a really long grade.

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My youngest son Owen was only a four-year old tike when I brought the old Jeep home- a fact that proves wonderful in that a child of such an age only sees the good in things. He was not at all phased by the lack of performance or by the fact that every single mechanical component on the Jeep was reaching the end of its trouble-free lifespan. He simply loved the vehicle for how it made him feel when he rode in it. Honestly, I was the same way. How could such a troublesome vehicle be so darn endearing?

Weekend camping trips and chilly early-morning drives with the top down to soccer games served as appetizers for Owen to develop a taste for what it’s like to own a Jeep. As time has passed, the list of upgrades and revisions the YJ has undergone has grown and grown. Bigger engine, larger tires and a transmission fitted with ample gearing ratios to make the old YJ more of a pleasure to own were each added in their own due time. Many of which Owen witnessed firsthand, or engaged in directly by lending a hand turning a wrench or holding a work light. All the while quietly growing his vested interest and developing a passion for something, even if he was unaware of it. So when he secured his learners permit last year, I was not surprised to learn of his desire to make his first set of wheels a Jeep. But not just A Jeep…but MY Jeep.

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I can’t think of anyone that I would rather assume the driving duties of my beloved YJ than my own son. Sure, I’ll have to farm out several of my internal organs to pay for insurance and I’ll have to go out and find an adequate replacement in which to shuttle myself to and from work. Not to mention a subject to occupy my abundance of free time. I’ll probably even upgrade my standing in the Jeep community a little bit in the process. Maybe a Rubicon and certainly something with coil springs. But nothing too perfect…I don’t think I would have as deep a love for my YJ if it weren’t for willingly accepting all her faults.  OlllllllO

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“Jeep Stacking” and Its Obvious Barnyard Origins

Human beings, by and large, are considered to be superior beings in just about every way. Just the fact that “we” have the wherewithal to put on pants and a shirt before we leave the house every day is clear indication that we have quite a lot going on upstairs, especially compared to other species. Dressing oneself is a totally manual process; one that requires vast mental aptitude compared to, say, a fish that merely changes its exterior coloring to blend in with its present environment. Do they have even the slightest regard for whether or not they are wearing white after Labor Day? I think not.

One symbol of man’s lofty intellectual standing is the practice of “Jeep Stacking”- the art of driving one Jeeps front tires up the perimeter of and ultimately resting atop another Jeeps tire. While this custom is relatively new to the Jeep community, I think the roots from which it stems goes back quite a ways- certainly before the age of smartphones and alcohol-free impaired driving.stackb&w

My first personal knowledge of the practide of stacking Jeeps was at a local car show a good number of years back. A guy pulled up next to me in a highly-modified Cherokee XJ and asked if he could “prop” on me. I honestly didn’t have any idea of what the prospect of him “propping” on me might actually entail but I felt sudden and sure concern that it might involve, at the very least, some sweaty hand-holding. So as not to be ostracized by the Jeep community I gave him permission to invade my personal space and then winced while I waited to what might lie in store for me.

After a few frustrating minutes, I came to full awareness that the idea of propping your Jeep on a neighboring vehicle might seem cool to some, but to those without a front locking differential ends up seeming more like an aggravating exercise in futility; an operation that seems hell-bent on either breaking your tire’s bead, your outer tie rod or both, depending on which poses the greatest inconveneince. MY newfound friend and propping partner became increasingly discouraged by his vehicles inability to perform the desired parking spot acrobatics, at which point he opted for climbing the curb and parking in a more mundane manner.

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It seems to me that this practice of Jeep stacking is really just a public display of Jeeps climbing capabilty, with a subtle insinuation of one Jeeps superiority over another. Any idea where this sort of animalistic behavior comes from?? Well…think no farther than your friendly neighborhood barnyard goat. In case you misunderstood,  I said goat.

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Goats were created with an inherent sense of climbing capability and they’re internally driven to show every other creature in the yard who’s on top, even the other goats. If you have some goats in the field, they’ll do their best to climb on top of whatever they find at hand (or hoof). Sheds, troughs, dirt piles, junker cars, dog houses and certainly tires. They don’t even show the same basic courtesy as a human by asking to “prop” before they mount your mud-terrain.  No, they just climb up there like it’s their tire and as though they were pleasant to look at- both of which are serious misconceptions.

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I intend to insinuate that, with no real proof or even reasonable evidence,that goats are solely to blame for our current automotive affliction known as “Jeep Stacking”- a scapegoat of sorts. But you may ask “How did a simple-minded barnyard beast gain exposure to our automotive culture?”. Let’s just say, somebody may have left the gate open…

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We unknowingly gave said goat unlimited access to our vehicular refuse that we so innocently put out to pasture.  And then, in a less-than-genius attempt to expand our own personal transportation options, we overlooked the goats inability to walk upright and harnessed them with the power to travel the earth as though they were gods. We willingly gave wheels to one of our more cockamamie creatures and expected no foul consequences in return? It seems to me that the horses and donkeys were doing a fine job of pulling our carts up to that point. If only we could have left the goats secluded in their pen, ramming their tufted noggins into tree trunks and perching themselves on tractor tires.

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While the above speculation borders on being a work of complete fiction, the similarities between the driven Jeep and the agility of a goat or ram is uncanny. Both are able to go where they want with minimal effort giving both a sense of near invincibility. That being said, I think it’s high time we drew some distinct lines between our beloved Jeeps and the behaviors of these boorish barnyard billies. OlllllllO

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Jeeping: Learned Behavior or Innate Instinct?

I recall the first time I took my mother for a ride in my lifted Jeep. This classy young lady is perfectly-aged and has seen an awful lot in her multitude of 80-some-odd years; not only giving birth to five children but sticking around to raise each and every one them too. She’s seen and experienced so much, so hopping into a Jeep for a sunset ride sounded like a perfect notion, even at her age. Nonetheless, it would appear to any onlookers that the task of climbing in or out of my precious Wrangler was far from a natural process, at least for her. In fact, I think she made her dismount from the passenger seat much like you would a bareback horse. You sling both legs over the side, aim your feet towards the earth, pucker slightly and begin a sliding sort of descent to ground. If all goes well, you land on firm terrain or, in this case, your son catches you clumsily, hence breaking your fall.

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Come to think of it, the art of climbing up into my Jeep is not the most natural of motions either. I can count on at least two hands the times I have either ripped the seat of my pants, banged my knee cap on the dash panel or temporarily lost my sense of balance while scaling the massive metal structure, scrambling to grasp at the steering wheel as the only hope of taking a tumble. Not to mention the number of times I have snagged a belt loop on the door latch plate on the way back out- every pair of jeans I own bares the mark in one place or the other.

So if Jeeping is not a completely natural way of life for humans, it must be somewhat a learned behavior. Or at the very least, one that takes a considerable amount of time to grow accustomed to.

When it comes to dogs, I really have to wonder if the opposite might be true. We have had the same family dog for the better part of ten years. She is a wonderful mix of several breeds, short and close to the ground (she takes after her grandma). She is openly and utterly incapable of climbing into the Jeep under her own power. Someone would have to not only pick her up to place her in the vehicle, but likely have to administer a sedative to keep her from coming completely unhinged and flinging herself to an untimely death over the nearest door ledge in a frantic attempt to get back out. She literally wants no part of going for a ride in the Jeep. For the record, the Jeep has never been used for trips to the vet for shots or gender reassignment surgery.  She rather dislikes it on a cellular level, despite only having had positive Jeep experiences.

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So, after much deliberation, we recently decided to increase the size of our family by one. We located a 5-year old Walker Coon Hound in a local rescue that seemed like the perfect fit. It was only after we had signed all the papers and posed for all the pictures that I was struck by a shocking display of familiarity by our newest adopted child. Our new girl “Rosie” ran around to the back of the Jeep and leaped through the barely- open tailgate. She didn’t even wait for me to lift the rear window! It was though she had ridden in a Jeep before. Our decision to adopt this hound was now firmly founded in my heart and set in concrete that this newfound stepchild was meant to be.

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So maybe Rosie had a prior owner that drove a Jeep which makes her familiar with her recommended means of entry. I can buy that. She is by birth a hunter, and a human hunter would likely drive a Jeep or some other four-wheel drive conveyance to get in and back out of the woods. But there is so much more to being a Jeeper than getting in and out physically. In the two weeks we have owned her, I have found that any physical motion that I engage in that evenly vaguely suggests that I am going to the garage, Rosie thinks it’s time for a Jeep ride. When I take her for a walk, she stops by and places her front legs on the Jeeps lofty rear bumper. She paces in circles by the passenger side door in hopes of gaining a coveted front seat position, despite usually being reserved for humans. She even whimpers a bit when I pull her past its perimeter. Kinda like the noise I make when I leave the Jeep behind in the garage at night.

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So if riding in a vehicle has become enjoyable to Rosie based on her past experiences, it would stand to reason that she would show similar excitement around our other cars. To the contrary, she seems to hold total disregard for more luxurious modes of transport; ones adorned with leather seats, snazzy NAV systems, and air conditioning. It’s only the Jeep that holds her interest. Maybe it’s the attraction of an interior she knows I can hose out if things go badly. Certainly the wind blowing herr floppy ears and across the nose is a favorite too, but I can’t help but think that maybe her love for Jeeps is more than that. Maybe it’s something she was born with? I guess she takes after her Dad. OlllllllO

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Photo Credit: Evan Coolidge

 

 

 

 

 

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Go Topless Day 2018…Are YOU Ready??

  If you are a Jeeper, you need to know that All Things Jeep’s Go Topless Day® 2018 is less than a month away and it promises to be the biggest one yet. If you’ve not yet made plans to attend or at least participate in your own celebration, time is growing short so we are here to help you make the best of this annual celebration. Join us as we revel in the return of warm weather in the best way possible… by taking our tops off! Here’s all you need to know:

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1-       Get your Go Topless Day stickers so you can help spread the word. All you’ve got to do is send a self-addressed envelope to the address below and they will send you a GTD2018 decal for FREE. That’s right, FREE!! Of course, you can buy them too so you have one for every vehicle you own. While you’re at it, snag an official GTD2018  shirt and lots of other awesome Jeep wear too at www.allthingsjeep.com

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All Things Jeep

GTD 2018 Bumper Sticker Request

20 Mill Street, Suite 136

Pepperell, MA 01463

 

 

 

 

 

2-       There are tons of special GTD2018 events happening all around the world. Fortunately for you, finding one to attend couldn’t be much easier.

 

        https://www.allthingsjeep.com/jeep-clubs-going-topless-2018.html

 Just one click and you can view an interactive map that shows you where all of the topless fun is at. There are club meets, Jeep shows, trail rides and loads of gatherings from coast to coast. Of course, even if you can’t make it to any of the official GTD2018 happenings, you can still participate by simply taking the top off your Jeep and getting out to enjoy the day. It’s that easy!

 

3-     While you’re out running around with your top off, it’s very important to make sure that your backside is properly covered and there’s no better-looking way to do that than with an official Go Topless Day® spare tire cover. You will soon find that the only thing better than driving around topless is that feeling of knowing that everyone is busy admiring your rear end. If you want to treat your backside, you can get yours at www.allthingsjeep.com/go-topless-day-stuff.html in a wide range of sizes so everyone can find adequate coverage.

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4-     Last but certainly not least- when Go Topless Day® 2018 finally arrives on May 19,2018, no matter where you are or what you choose to do, get outside and enjoy the outdoors in your Jeep. It’s that spirit of adventure and the freedom to follow your own path that makes driving a Jeep so special. So lose those tops, if only for one day, and let’s show the world that everything is better in a Jeep.           OlllllllO

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Identifying One Man’s Goodness as Greatness

It was with considerable sadness that we learned a few weeks back of the passing of our longtime friend and company spokesperson R. Lee Ermey, or as he was better and more affectionately known, The Gunny.

1The Gunny was, of all things, a movie star. It’s a little bit hard to see how a man who has made a name for himself by acting in movies could be held in such high regard by so many. Let’s face it – Ermey’s role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket may have been his defining role and anyone who has seen it would have to agree. His performance likely left you blushing a little bit and certainly breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of attending boot camp. Despite his sheer brilliance, that is not to say that this role defined The Gunny at all. He was remembered for his acting but he was only truly defined by his character.

It’s impossible, at times like this, to begin to gauge how much his presence will be missed. For anyone that ever had the privilege to meet the man in person, the experience could only be described as an honor. Gunny had a knack for making each and every person he met feel like they were important to him and, in some little way, I believe they sincerely were. His fans and supporters meant everything to him.

For those who never really had the opportunity to get to know him, the Gunny could best be described as a man that loved his country and his value for those who made it their job to defend her was beyond measure. He loved his family, he enjoyed his collection of firearms and his old Jeep, which he was quick to tell you was nothing fancy- just the way he liked it.

Part of our company’s relationship with The Gunny was his ongoing appearances, on our behalf, in the Rugged Ridge Off-Road Success Center at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas each fall. Despite being in his 70’s, Ermey would tirelessly tend to a never-ending line of fans and admirers for hour after hour and for days on end. Surrounded by military Jeeps and waves of adoring fans, never demanding a break from his post or neglecting to greet every face with a confident smile and a firm handshake. He always seemed to bubble with enthusiasm when one of his more dedicated groupies would beg to be called “maggot” or “scumbag” in that unmistakable stern tone they’d grown to revere. He would never decline and his followers couldn’t get enough.

And then there was the sweet lady who jumped into the line to meet The Gunny at the last minute, right as we were closing down for the day. She knew him, of course, from his role in Full Metal Jacket and was anxious to actually meet him. As we stood there and made conversation during her wait, I mentioned that she should tell The Gunny that she loved him in his role as the Sherriff in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She clearly was not familiar with this obscure role, as most people aren’t. Take my word, this was by all accounts one of the most-vile characters anyone could ever imagine. Fortunately, she was trusting enough and wanted to make a real impression during her brief interaction with him. When she finally reached the front of the que, she delivered her prompted line so well that The Gunny froze, slowly looked up and stared back at her with a look so aghast, as though he might just run for the exit. It was though he could not fathom a female that would find anything appealing in such a despicable role; nonetheless, she was standing in front of him. Impression made!

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My own personal observations of R Lee Ermey in the times I was fortunate enough to be around him made a pretty deep impression on me too. The Gunny had given so much of his time over the years lending support to law enforcement and giving of himself for our military troops, that it was very common for fans to show up and spend an hour waiting in line to share just a few moments with him, often holding old pictures of themselves with The Gunny. Photos from a time past when they were stationed overseas or serving on a military base in some bleached-out desert somewhere and The Gunny was there for them. Two soldiers who, despite being world’s apart, shared common values and a mutual respect for the sacrifices each has made for the good of others. The Gunny truly got it and he wanted every soldier to know it.

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Ermey’s longtime manager and friend Bill Rogin borrowed from the U.S. Marine Corps Rifleman’s Creed as a written tribute to a man who clearly established himself in a class all his own: “There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all.”

Semper Fi, Gunny

Godspeed

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