Imagine waking up on a bright, sunny morning and thinking to yourself, ‘I sure wish I had a Jeep’ and then going out later that day to purchase one! [Not a valid template]
To most people, the rationale behind such an impulse decision might be considered short of lunacy: however, to a Jeep enthusiast who grew up with a passion for cars and the outdoors and who was inspired just months earlier while testing the mettle of a Jeep Rubicon at a Camp Jeep On-The-Road® event, the decision only made sense…and thus marked the beginning of the end.
Outdoor adventuring has always been a passion of mine: Whether cycling across the state of Texas in various charitable events, summiting 14000 foot peaks in the Rockies, getting lost in the snow-capped mountains of the Austrian Alps, or skiing (rather tumbling) down the slopes of Ruidoso, Mother Nature has presented me with plenty of thrills. Nothing, however, would prepare me for the excitement I would garner from testing my off-road skills in my new Jeep while visiting a friend who was home from Colorado on Christmas vacation.
My adventure began in the small town of Willis, Texas, located north of Houston. Willis, a lumbering and agricultural market town nestled in the thickets of east Texas, was actually founded from a land grant to the Great Northern Railroad by two landowners from Galveston, Texas in 1870. During the late nineteenth century, the Willis area became the leading tobacco growing region in the state before the lifting of the tariff on Cuban tobacco killed the boom in the early twentieth century. Fast-forward to 2005 and Willis has become a thriving community caught up in urban expansion, as well as a great place to take your Jeep when one might be inclined to get it a little muddy. And that’s exactly what I did.
Upon my arrival in Willis, I instantly began to yearn for the chance to explore my friend’s one hundred and fifty plus acres of land ensconced in tall pines and rolling hills. As luck would have it, my friend and I approached a small creek bed that would provide the perfect opportunity for me to kick it into four-wheel drive for the first time. Of course, our ‘luck’ soon turned into my humiliation as I managed to get stuck in this wanna-be raging waterway on my first pass while my friend, his wife, and his parents watched! It was at this point that it became glaringly obvious that I needed to ‘learn the ropes’ of four-wheeling, and in this case, it was literal, as a rope was exactly what I needed. Fortunately my Warn XD9000i winch did the trick, and after finally being freed from this muddy rampage, I gave it another run and ecstatically made it across to the other side, this time without the humiliation and laughter that was received from my previous attempt.