February 28, 2017


That's how many miles I'd put on the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Bought in 2009, with barely 20,000 miles on her, we began travelling.  I was in Colorado at the time, having recently moved from Arizona.  Down in Phoenix, I had a little Dodge sedan, small and 4 cylinders and utterly unimpressive, but affordable on a paramedic salary.  Once I moved to the Denver area, and began to reacquaint myself with the mountains, I soon realized that I needed a better vehicle, one more suited to loading up the back pack, tent, sleeping bag, dog, and cooler of beer.

My new job was a huge raise, and with few changes to my lifestyle, I found myself rather flush with cash, so I plopped a huge chunk down, about half of the purchase price, and financed the rest.  And managed to pay that off in 3 years instead of 5.

In 2009, I drove from Colorado to Indiana for Christmas, and it was on that drive that I truly understood how comfortable the vehicle was to drive when I made the trip back in a single push -- 1180 miles, 17 hours, stopped only for gas and bathroom breaks.  Got out of the Jeep, stretched a bit, wasn't sore at all.

Some years later, I got married and moved back to Indiana to be with my wife and begin our lives together.  My belongings in a uHaul, the Jeep pulled it with barely any effort (granted, most of the trip was downhill), and still had space for the dogs in the cargo area, a Yakima Space Case on the roof rack with the camping gear, and a cooler of sandwiches and beverages in the back seat.  We stopped for the day near Columbia, Missouri, and camped on the banks of the Missouri River.

I used the Jeep to teach my ex-wife's oldest daughter to drive.

We took a vacation to West Virginia for some white water rafting, then to western Pennsylvania for some camping.  Four of us, camping gear, etc.

During a cold week in January, I drove that Jeep up into Michigan, visiting client sites in blowing snow and brutally cold conditions.  Never missed a beat.

When my wife and I split, I lived in the Jeep for three weeks, folding the rear seats down and laying at an angle, I would barely fit.  In the morning, I'd get up and drive a few blocks to the YMCA for a shower, then go to work.  In the evenings, I'd sit on the back bumper, drink a couple beers, watch the sun set, and cry from the pain of the divorce.  But through it all, Jeep was there.

As the prodigal son must, I had to go "home" to Colorado, so once again I saddled up for the move.  I had to replace the front drive shaft, and gave her a radiator flush/fill, transmission flush/fill, and an oil change.  Once again, loading the uHaul trailer, I hit the road, this time stopping just outside Lawrence, Kansas, to camp overnight.  The next evening, I arrived at my new home in Fort Collins.  So many things were up in the air -- where was I going to live? How much could I afford in rent?  Will I like my new job?  -- that I was very worried and stressed for weeks.  All of this was new again, and am I going to make it?  Through it all, I had my Jeep.

The past few months, she started having some issues, and I put some money into her for repairs, but yesterday was the end.  Driving back from Cheyenne after going to fix a client network issue, she blew a cylinder... the rocker arm blew up through the valve cover, and smoke poured freely from under the hood.  Had her towed to a mechanic, who gave me the bad news today: Engine is done, $4500 or so to replace it.  Not worth the expense, so I'll head over to the shop this evening, collect my personal belongings, and say my good bye to the most comfortable, most enjoyable, most wonderful vehicle I've ever known.

10 years.

176,373 miles.

Countless memories.

So long, Heep.  We had us one hell of a good ride.


Old NFO said...

Sorry to hear that, but she did serve you well! Hopefully the next one is as good!

Suz said...

Isn't it funny how attached you can become to a dependable, reliable vehicle. I felt the same way about my Subaru Forester. It had 209,000 miles of it when I finally gave it to my son and his wife. They did some fixing up on it, and 3 years later she is still driving it. I drove that car all over up-state NY, back and forth to MI, Indiana, Florida, and all over New England. It fit 4 of us easily plus camping gear, and took me into places I wasn't sure I was going to get out of. Every single time it breezed up hill, through slop, water and lousy roads, day or middle of the night, nice part of town or in the hood.
It's been 3 years, I have a very nice, comfortable Impala, but I still miss my Forester.
May your next car serve you as well as your Heap.