I’ve owned three Jeeps in my life. Well, if you want to count the Grand Cherokee, which, to me is just a car, then I guess I’ve owned four. But let’s not kid ourselves. No one calls those Jeeps. When I say Jeep, I mean the kind you can climb up the side of a wall with. I guess it all started in the Air Force, when my roommate lost his license for driving drunk on-base. So he wasn’t allowed to drive on base for six months, and my shitty Cavalier was broken down for whatever reason. So I got to drive his Jeep. As soon as I’d get off base, I would drop the top and feel like I was in heaven. Well, I guess I was in a way.
So I had to get one. I knew I did. So I got one. Well, come the downfall of the dot-com boom of the early oughts, and I got laid-off from a really high-paying career. And since all the IT jobs had dried up, I was forced to take a labor position with a buddy, which paid me a third of what I had been making. I’m not complaining. In fact, I felt very blessed to have a friend who owned a business and that he could use me on a crew. All that to say, I could no longer afford my new Jeep. I had to file bankruptcy. I lost the house, I lost the SUV, and I lost the Jeep.
For a long time I drove other bullshit cars and trucks, but none ever fulfilled me the way the Jeep had. I mean, it’s really a different experience. I would take the top down on a Friday after a day of hell at the corporate desk job, and I’d be at once reconnected with Mother Earth. And when I took the doors off, whoa buddy, it was even better. So I finally got me another Jeep. This one a year older than the first, and used. But I actually liked it better. And I got to modding it.
Remember when General Motors took the government bail-out and lost a fuck-ton of money and had to lay-off a bunch of people, at the end of 2008? Well, guess where I worked when that happened. Yup. I had worked my way back into IT (I had only had to stay with my buddy for a few months) and had worked my way back up to a server-engineering position that paid well. And now I got laid-off again. Sigh.
Well, rather than surrendering my Jeep this time, my dad helped me out. He gave me his pickup truck and took the Jeep, so he could use it as trade-in for a new truck. Very nice of him. But I was once again without my love. Why am I telling you all this? Well, you’ll see.
When I was awarded my disability back in 2015, I came into some money. Enough to make a down-payment on a new Jeep. You see, I had been missing it again. Pining for it, in fact. You can’t understand unless you’ve owned one, perhaps, but it was real. An aching in my soul. Gah, it sucked. So I got a gently-used Sport JK, 2-door, red, stick shift, soft top. Those were my requirements. Well, I didn’t care about red. Just a color that popped. And red pops. So I bought it. She had only 4000 miles on it. Anyway, my pining was over. And I got to modding again.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve put nearly thirty thousand dollars into this Jeep. And now – fast forward even more, to today – I’ve paid her off. I had told myself when I started collecting disability, that I would never lose another Jeep. And I almost did. Big divorce, ex-wife who mishandled the finances, blah blah, and blah. Well, I got that shit handled and paid her off. She’s mine. No one can take her away.
Amber Waves has 37″ tires on her. New gearing at 4.56. New shocks, fenders, bumpers, winch, step bars, wheel well guards, axles, soft top, tinted windows… I mean, tons of shit I’ve done to this vehicle. So obviously I love her. And maybe I was subconsciously paying homage to those I had lost by dumping tons of money into this one. To make her better and bigger than any Jeep I had ever had before.
And then one day I was bored. And I thought, you know what? I want a motorcycle. My daughter, Callie, called it. She was like, “Let me guess. You got bored and bought a bike.” Of course not, Callie! Don’t be silly. I’m a grown man. I’m not capricious and immature with large amounts of money like that. I don’t just willy nilly go out and invest in something like this without having really good really good reason. Nope. She called it.
But I have always wanted to someday own a street bike. I grew up with dirt bikes. I owned three of those too, from the time I was ten until in my early twenties. And I also always knew that if I bought a street motorcycle, it would be an Indian. Number one, because it’s an American-made bike. And number two, isn’t Harley just so – I don’t know – obvious? I’m not saying anything bad about Harleys. They’re great bikes. And the people who buy them have good reason, I’m sure. But for me, a new owner who has never had a street bike before, it feels a little like the obvious choice. We’ve all heard the joke, “for a t-shirt company, they sure sell a lot of bikes!” Whatever. I have nothing against them. I love my Harley-riding friends, and their bikes. I’ve just always loved the Indian name. So I bought an Indian.
And now, I’ll tell you why I wrote so much about Jeeps in the first eight paragraphs. Because I thought that was it. That was the cat’s ass. Take the doors off and drop the top, and BAM. You’re one with Mother again. You feel that wind. You own the road. All stress melts away. And while that’s true, holy shit, it’s only a portion of what you get when you’re on a bike. There is literally no comparison. It’s wind times ten. It’s freedom times liberty. It’s fucking marvelous.
Even at forty miles an hour, God, it just feels so amazing. You’re not just one with Mother Earth. You’re surrounded by her. She’s wrapping her arms around you. I still smile sometimes when I hit 40 on a road. It just feels so damn fine.
I’m going to be modding my bike. For sure. Upgrades abound. And I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I won’t own another one someday, in addition to this one. And I’m not even going to say the other one won’t be a Harley-Davidson. It might very well be. I’m just sad that I wasted the first half of my life not knowing what I was missing. If I had it to do all over again, I would have walked out of the Air Force after my honorable discharge, flipped my middle finger to the IT industry and I would have gone right into what I’m doing now. IT would have saved me years of stress and anxiety, and I would have never been laid-off. And I would have bought that Jeep. And a motorcycle.