An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

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It’s now 2010 and I am now 73 years old. The darn kids are getting older and older, and all of a sudden I am a great-grandpa. My darling wife of 42 years recently passed away from pulmonary fibrosis, and I am out here facing the task of morphing into something so I can continue on with life.

Then IT happened. As I drove by the Jeep dealer, my eye snapped onto this really strange vehicle with a very strange paint job. The first time by, I just passed IT and went home, but for some reason my mind dwelt on that vehicle and the next day, I drove by IT again. Only this time I stopped to look in the windows and at the sticker. OK, it was a new Wrangler and IT was painted this incredible love-it-or-hate-it light metallic green which I later learned was named (for some reason) Rescue Green. My first reaction was that it was a really strange color, but the Jeep had a 6-speed manual transmission, and the color started to grow on me. A few days later, I actually went into the dealer and I went for a test ride with the great, no-pressure sales agent.

Sold! Yep, the easiest sale ever. All we had to do was a little haggle over my trade-in and the Jeep was mine. I bought IT; the salesman didn’t have to sell anything.

Now what? Until now, I hadn’t related to you that my decades-old love of the outdoors and trails, and off-highway adventuring, had become imbedded into another one of my kids, not my backpacking son of 40 years ago, but my youngest son who was too little to join us on the California trails years ago. However, he has a slight aberration in that he is absolutely taken aback by the history and mystique of the venerable Land Rover family of vehicles. I cannot pry him from his errant ways but it’s OK, we are able to co-exist in perfect harmony despite our diverse tastes. My son has had, and completely rebuilt, an old Series ‘60’s LR, gone through two LR Discoveries, and a Range Rover.

He is now the very, very proud owner of a Defender 90 which looks like it just came out of a Stewart Granger movie from the 1950’s. He loves his Defender, and I love seeing him so happy with it. And because we both love the trails, this brings me to the crux of the saga.

I was home one evening, and the phone rang. Dan (my son) said something like, “Well, Pop, since you have that Jeep, we need to get it out on the trail and get it dirty.”

Oh, boy. Brand new, 1200 miles, and I hadn’t slept on the ground in a little tent in 40 years, but the gauntlet had been thrown down and it was up to me to accept the challenge or be thought of by my flesh and blood as a – gasp – a poser! No. Anything but that.

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