As we prepare to close the books on the first month of a new year, I find myself marveling at how much my little Jeep has changed in three short years. Each step I’ve taken felt, in the moment, like it was taking forever. Each time a family member suffered a medical setback or a major appliance died, life sneered that I’d never reach my goal. Really, though, I’ve accomplished a great deal, and on a literal shoestring budget.
And, as I look ahead to the next year or two, I see both the completion of Stage One of Smokey’s build and new growth for my off-road driving skills.
Here, then, are some specific plans for my 2016 Jeep adventures:
- Armor. I’m squirreling away my pennies now to put a matching crash bar skid plate under my front bumper. I contemplated cutting off the hideous factory piece hanging several inches below my bumper, but (a) in today’s litigious society, I’d rather not cut off something the factory views as a safety feature and, more importantly, (b) adding the skid plate will give me a good place to mount the front license plate Texas so foolishly requires.
- More armor. To date, it’s only my cautious driving style and God’s grace that has kept my rocker panels intact. As I look down the road, to more frequent jeeping trips, I’m no longer content to gamble. I’m committed to adding some legitimate rocker protection before 2016 draws to a close.
- Interior. On the odd chance I win the lottery (most unlikely, since I don’t play), I’d also like to wrap Smokey’s seats with a set of two-tone mil-spec seat covers from Bartact. I’ve read countless positive reviews and seen their quality firsthand. With two children to squeeze into the back seat, the protection these afford just makes sense.
- Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree. For reasons that are familiar to many — encroaching federal restrictions, poor behavior by some in our sport and inattentive sportsmen who like to use the trails as a firing range — we’ve decided to limit our trips to the nearby Canadian River. As my wife and I talked over our options, some with our local Jeep group and others just as a family, we’re thinking about joining one of many annual trips hosted by Jeep Jamboree USA. The nearby Palo Duro Canyon is a spectacular display of God’s majesty, but it is comprised of a state park and private land and, therefore, usually closed to off-road use. One notable exception, though, is the Palo Duro jamboree, held each May.
- Colorado dreaming. Though not until at least 2017, we’re making plans to wheel the Ouray-Telluride-Silverton area in Colorado. This is a bucket-list trip for me, and my wife and I have committed to go, either with our local group or whatever other option presents itself. The rich history of the area, along with breathtaking mountain vistas is simply too good to pass up.
It’s going to be a great Jeeping year!