Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ode to the 'eep

‘Round about the time I first decided to throw my lot into this writing idea, I went out and picked up the very first automobile that I bought and paid for myself. The year was 1990, and the auto in question was a 1988 Jeep Comanche pickup truck; $5,800 cash to some high school kid in the suburbs of LA. Oh boy, it was almost brand new, and I’d swear it still had that new car smell, despite the 45,000 miles already on it.

In the coming years I would drive that truck from Laguna Beach, California, to the tip of Baja California and back. I drove it all the way up the coast to British Columbia and Vancouver Island, numerous times. I went back and forth across the country, twice. I drove from North Carolina all the way up to Maine. And no matter where I went, that truck kept just plugging along.

At one point, a small letter “J” fell off the front, and from that moment on, my ride was known as “the ‘eep.” Years later the “p” fell off, and for a while I called it “the e-squared.” But that didn’t do. I peeled off the e’s, and it is still the ‘eep to anyone who knows better.

Sure, I’ve had to replace a few things, mostly by myself. I’ve put in a few starters, four or five alternators, a couple of fan belts, a new cooling system, catalytic converter, a couple water pumps, fuel pump, muffler, valve cover gasket, spark plugs and who knows what else. But still, that engine runs like the truck is brand new. Now it has 265,000 miles on it, and it seems there is no stopping the ‘eep!

At some point along the way, I decided that I was going to keep on driving this truck as long as it took to really make it as a writer. And by make it, I mean earn a decent living from my craft. So far that hasn’t quite happened yet, but I’m sure glad to still be driving the ‘eep. I don’t know if I could bear to get rid of her. It’s been about the only constant in my life these past 21 years. Just last week I sent in the registration fees for another year, and I say, bring it on! I can’t wait for springtime to arrive for more trips out to the desert to camp beneath the stars. One thing I know for sure, the ‘eep won’t let me down!

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