Working the Night Shift

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one. While this sounds like a vague introduction to some sort of seriously uncomfortable introspection. It’s really not. I often lay awake at night and I think about it. Certainly there are others who face the same struggles as I. Ones who, when they have some considerable task or project at hand, toil away at that task while they sleep or, at least, in the time set aside for sleeping. Does it occupy their thoughts, even while they sleep?

1I am unfortunately plagued with this anomaly and I’m not able to find a solution that enables me to move past it. For example, I am currently entertaining the prospect of upgrading the rear differential in my Jeep- something beefy and less prone to breakage than my factory Dana 35. Beginning around 3 a.m. each night, I find myself sifting through the makes and models of trucks that incorporate my desired differential from the factory; noting each one in detail so as to better focus my quest. I see virtual fields of these trucks and I inspect them from a hazy distance as though I am planning my most efficient attack. I ponder what specific drivetrain configurations and trim levels might best offer the possibility of finding the gear ratio that I need. Even in my sleep, I often stroll through the salvage yard’s automotive haystack perusing the array of vehicles; looking with stern devotion for that solitary hidden needle I long to acquire. Certainly this is some sort of odd syndrome that simply hasn’t been named yet.

While my nightly jaunts are usually centered around an automotive theme, I’m sure individuals with varied interests endure similar experiences with a subject that is tailor-made for them. I’ve heard that people whose jobs have a certain level of redundancy to them often find themselves performing that redundant action while they slumber. Like the guy who severs the heads from the chickens at the poultry plant or the lady who refills the soap dispensers in the rest stop bathroom. I much prefer my subliminal strolls through the imagined scrapyard to the ideas of making donuts or filling out tax forms in my sleep, much less decapitating chickens.

Unlike my real self, my subconscious self is extremely capable of multi-tasking too. I am currently committed to the task of rebuilding a Toyota 22R carburetor for a good friend of mine. I’ve already purchased the rebuild kit, with its abundance of gaskets and springs. I have the assembly diagrams printed and all the tools necessary to undertake its renovation. The only thing I have not afforded the mission is the ample portion of time to get it done. Not to worry though…I find myself meticulously dismantling the carbs complex series of linkages and cleaning its countless crooks and crannies. I labor not at a workbench however, as most would, but rather under cover of darkness while I sleep. Each venturi, O-ring and pump diaphragm is attentively tended to with exacting precision- like that of someone wholly awake.

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Despite the fact that I bring it on myself, I do try to justify my particular strain of insomnia with the thought that foolishness sleeps soundly while those blessed with a thirst for knowledge toss and turn in search of answers; ones that might only be found by the light of day. While previewing a job over and over in your mind doesn’t make you any better-prepared to actually do the job, telling myself it does helps me sleep at night, figuratively speaking, of course. I’m sure when I actually hit the junkyard to find my donor rear differential, I’m sure it will seem like I’ve been there before. Like my course was planned.

This past weekend, while I was engaged in another subconscious junkyard expedition, it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to get in my Jeep and drive to Toledo, the birthplace of the Jeep Wrangler and the hometown for the manufacturing of Jeeps since the very beginning. Since 2016, the city of Toledo celebrates their proudest export with a little celebration they call the Toledo Jeep Fest, featuring an untold number of Jeeps from across the country, all gathered in one place. The yearly event features an enormous parade of Jeeps wheeling through the center of town, which is often the highlight of the weekend. If I’m not sleeping, I should probably go!!! Or even if I am??

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And just like that, my semi-lucid brain concocted a haphazard plan to drive my ’93 Wrangler YJ to Toledo, Ohio- a distance much farther then I have ever ventured before in my rattle can. I even bolstered my newfound cause with the premise that my particular Jeep will officially celebrate its 25th birthday this year. What better way to celebrate Jeeps long-standing spirit of adventure than by casting caution strongly into the wind and embarking on a cross-country trek in my own Jeep? Curse the noisy off-road tires and meager fuel economy; let’s take this show on the road! We’ll drive north at speeds that will transform my beloved YJ into nothing short of a blur in the eyes of passersby. A cumbersome beast who has taken up a stationary residence in the slow lane; trudging along in hopes of finding my way to some like-minded individuals dabbling in my same breed of sleep deprivation. Or, at the very least, to take in some really cool Jeeps. Something to fuel my next wave of fever dreams upon my return home.

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And so I will spend many of my precious spare hours over the upcoming months readying the Jeep for the long trip ahead. I’m sure that many of the issues that I need to address in preparation for the journey will busy my mind much longer than they occupy my hands. I suppose it’s just the way that I’m wired. Fortunately for me, I find considerable enjoyment in the preparation for such a trip as I do in the trip itself. Much like the reward of spending time with your kids before they learned to loathe your existence. The pleasure of doing something with them almost paled in comparison to the joy of just being with them.

I plan to document my trip to the Toledo Jeep Fest in August with photos and a journal that relays the tale of my travels. Feel free to follow along at www.RuggedRidge.com/blog . Hopefully it will be all the fun of making the trip yourself without any of the sleepless nights. Maybe you can take the wheel for an hour or so while I catch a few winks?? OlllllllO

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Until We Figure Out How to Make a Heritage…We’d Better Preserve the One We’ve Got

Omix-ADA / Rugged Ridge just finished putting the wraps on their 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo- a simple and unadulterated celebration of Jeeps past, present and future. While the show is new, only in its second year of existence, the event has grown steadily each year with over two hundred Jeeps migrating to our Suwanee, Georgia facilities to take part in the affair.

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One truth that stands out boldly to me every time I attend a Jeep event like this is the true sense of kinship that is shared amongst Jeeps loyal following. It’s the heritage of the Jeep that sets it apart from other cars on the road; and the reason why a gathering of such is different from any other ‘car show’ on the planet. If you drive a Jeep, you have a key part in that heritage and the unique sense of unity that comes with Jeep ownership is your part of the inheritance to cherish.

2As I stood at the main entrance of the Heritage Expo with the sun beating down on me relentlessly, I was rewarded in being able to greet Jeep after Jeep-load of enthusiasts as they arrived for the event. Some were locals and had driven for a relatively short time, while others had travelled for untold hours, from many states away, to participate. No matter the distance, visible smiles seemed to declare that it was clearly more than worth the distance covered. Some of the rigs were immaculate, having been detailed and cleaned to the nth degree. Other rides were splattered with mud reminiscent of some previous off-road jaunt, not necessarily recent, but one that finds a way to live on in the owner’s memory by keeping what traces remain for as long as he/she can- like the suntan that remains after a great beach vacation. You hang on to it as long as you possibly can. Each one of the Jeeps is carefully surveyed by the masses as they arrived and given an unstated measure of appreciation. Each one admired for their own merits, each comparable to the next as well as the ones before; all equal regardless of how they came dressed for the party.

This is not anywhere near my first car show, by any means. For as long as I can remember, I have always been into muscle cars, trucks or generally any mechanical contraption with more than one wheel as long as it serves to transport you at a speed greater than which I can walk…preferably something I can fiddle with. While the throngs of muscle car enthusiasts and the cars they relish are still near and somewhat dear to me, the level of exclusion that occurs inside their ranks always impugned any positives for me. The animosity that exists between the Ford guys and the contrasting Chevrolet faithful always seemed to undermine the hobby itself. Since when is a brightly-colored sticker of cartoon juvenile urinating on another car manufacturer’s logo a tool for building comradery? Can’t we just collectively appreciate a piece of automotive engineering that has been painstakingly restored by its owner to new condition without any regard if it is a Fiero or a Ferrari?

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The Jeep community largely acknowledges the concept that a show truck has virtues just as commendable as an off-road capable trail rig. It’s not that one is superior to the other but rather that each person buys into the spirit of freedom, capability and adventure that the Jeep represents and adapts the Jeep to fit the lifestyle they prefer. We prefer to celebrate the entire bunch of them, In fact, you can walk into a Jeep dealership and buy a completely stock Jeep Wrangler JK and never modify a thing on it- it just doesn’t matter. You ARE instantly and entirely adopted into the Jeep family and you will be waved at whenever you pass another brother or sister. It’s truly revolutionary to experience and a large part of why we seek to preserve this long-standing heritage for future generations to enjoy.

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If you want to find out more about the 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo or see what all the excitement of the Jeep lifestyle is all about- check us out at www.RuggedRidge.com and we hope to see you and your Jeep at next year’s Jeep Heritage Expo in 2018! OlllllllO

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