America is Beautiful

american-flagIt’s time to take a break everybody. For two years, we have heard nothing but politics, nothing but he said/she said. This weekend was the end of it. Let’s take a break.

Let’s take a break from labeling. No more “Republicans”, no more “Democrats”, no more “deplorables”, no more “libtards” – every time I start to see a post, an article that I think might have some merit, someone has thrown in a label that is designed to stir someone up, to alienate others.

Let’s take a break from the media sites who’s goal seems to be to shock you, not inform. We used to use the media to help us make an informed opinion, now we use them to tell us what that opinion should be. Let’s take a break from them.

Let’s take a break from choosing sides, that’s an elementary school game. This isn’t a game, people, this is real life.

Let’s take a break from playing the victim. Bad things happen in life, to all of us. Your bad thing isn’t worse because of what it is, it’s worse because it happened to you. Stop comparing, stop being victimized.

Let’s take a break from hate. Hate takes too much energy to sustain and it taints everything you do. When you hate, when you victimize, when you choose sides, you don’t leave enough room for love.

Choose today to love. Your family, your friends, those people who think like you do and more importantly, those people who don’t think like you do. Shouting doesn’t change their minds, love does.

Choose today to do something positive.

Choose today to think for yourself, not mimic someone else/

Choose today to be you. Whatever version of you that is right for you is ok. Don’t follow the herd, don’t change to be accepted, be you, in all your glory.

The United States is exactly that, United. United for a common cause, the betterment of our land, our people, our education. Support those leaders we all elected, whether in our hometowns, our state capitals, or the nation’s capital. They have a job to do, let them do it. I don’t mean rollover and play dead. Tell them if there is something you want done, tell them when they introduce something that doesn’t make sense, use the methods at hand. Find your tribe and share information they may not have, share visions they may not see, but try to look at it from the other side of the fence as well. Maybe, just maybe, there is a compromise. Offer solutions, not rhetoric, let’s get down to business.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and with that,
I pledge to take responsibility for my actions.
I pledge to take responsibility for my health and wellbeing.
I pledge to treat all people within our borders with respect:
-regardless of age
-sexual orientation
-or occupation.
I pledge to live and let live.

Towards that end, I ask my government to NOT legislate
-My free will
-My actions that harm no one
-My body and my bedroom
-My decisions on how to earn and spend my money
-My decisions on how to live my life.

To that end I will serve and protect my family as my government serves and protects my rights. I will abide by all laws, rules and regulations and exercise my rights afforded me by the Constitution.

I’m going to STOP being offended, STOP being right, STOP assuming others are out to get me, STOP labeling, STOP judging, STOP taking things personally and STOP being entitled.

I’m going to START respecting others, START serving, START caring, START living, START helping.

I ask my government to stop making new laws, new rules, and new regulations for my protection and simply enforce those already in place efficiently and effectively, and if unable to do that, repeal them so all citizens are treated equally.

This is my pledge, this is my plea, folks, it’s time to stop separating our communities and work together for the America we all love.  America is beautiful, let’s treat her that way.

My three words

Three words to set your year up for success. Three words that when repeated day in and day out for 365 will help you to lead the life you choose. It sounds easy, but how do you live with just those three words for an entire year?

In 2016, I choose Abundance.Energy.Intention – those were good for me, they helped me to recognize the Abundance that my life is filled with, the Energy I need to muster to complete my tasks and the choice I make daily to live with Intention – life is too short to let it pass me by.

But 2017 feels different, life is good, it is fulfilling, it is time to shift the focus. So my three words have to reflect that. Today I choose the following:


I need the alliteration to help me remember.

When I first started thinking of my words – Community jumped right up. My Community is not geographical,travel prevents that. My interests are so varied, there are many separate communities that would never fit together, but each small section is a Community and I want to be a more active member. I appreciate my Communities because of what they bring to the table, this is to remind me to participate. It is up to me to join and speak up, not just be a wallflower in the corner.

Chance makes sense to me, there are so many presented daily: chances, opportunities, adventures. I need reminded to take the chance, to be a leader in trying new things, to say yes to what is presented. Take the Chance, it will be worth it.

Fear is a big part of my life, it has taken me a long time to admit it and I try to be fearless, but internally I know better, and those closest to me know it too. To choose Fear as one of my words seems negative, but Conquer is a positive thing. So it can positively remind me to Conquer my fears without reiterating daily that I have them.

So those are my three words- what are yours? Share with me, let’s tackle 2017 together.

Thank you 2016!

2016-in-reviewOh what a year it has been, there have been so many good things happening, it is hard to remember and recognize them all. I love to review my pics on my phone to remember where we were and what we were doing. I did that last night…when the house was quiet and all I could hear was the soft breathing of the one I love. Yep, Gertie was in the corner…we are housesitting this week in Costa Rica which translates to dog sitting and THAT is a blast.

We’ve covered a lot of ground, we’ve seen a lot of people and we have participated in some very cool things. This was a year for new events for us. We went to the JP Magazine Jeep-n-Drive; Trail Hero and the Rebelle Rally – all new events in 2016. We went to National Parks all over the US and I became a Junior Ranger over and over again. We attended a number of weddings that saw people join together for the future of all of us. We went deep sea fishing with friends, we got to go to Costa Rica – twice.

On the home front, we kept moving forward, kept moving our kids forward. We loved on our grandkids more than usual this year and that was awesome. We invested time and effort into our future retirement. We went to museums and made offshoot road trips to see people that mattered to us. There will be more of that this next year. We sent gifts and cards when we were thinking of someone, we tried to bring some joy in to others lives, whether on the track or off. We said “yes” when opportunities arose, I’m actively looking for more things to say yes to.

This is not about how cool our life is, it is about the choices we make. The choice to see the good, to spend the extra minutes to embrace the sunset or sunrise, the flowers, the abandoned sights, the beauty. The friends and experiences. On any given day, hell, on every given day, we work, we work to promote our living, our life, and our lifestyle. On any given day, we make that choice to see the good and the beautiful, to make someone smile, to make ourselves smile. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

Join me in 2017 doing the same. Start with counting the wins, ignore the losses, just count the wins. Then look at how to repeat them. My biggest wins come when someone says thank you – it means I did something right.

Summer Camp Fieldtrips

Ahh, the bygone days of summer. Sleeping in, staying out late, walks by the lake, games being played. The days of summer in my childhood looked like that. As did the last two weeks. I went to summer camp. I could call it a vacation, because I was relieved of most of duties as wife and mother, it really was more like summer camp.

I sped off to Minneapolis after our last event in Vernal, Utah. Rich had plans to go to Jeepers Jamboree, and as I’ve tried to explain to my friends, I camp for a living, going someplace with no shower and no access to the world for four days doesn’t hold the same appeal to me as to most. But the city…that’s something I haven’t done in a long time.

I’m a big fan of Minneapolis, not just because I have kids there, but because it is a destination city, they’ve made it vibrant and accessible. If you go to Minneapolis, you intend to go there, it’s not really on the way to anywhere. The streets are safe at all hours, the people are Minnesota nice and I love the art. Minneapolis is a maker’s city. There are crafts people everywhere, galleries and exhibits and festivals galore. We discovered a secret there, quite by accident, that I am thankful for, because like all good summer camps, this one had field trips.

We ventured out to the Textile Center on a Friday afternoon. The Textile Center is a home for all guilds related to the fiber arts. We saw examples of weaving, dying, needle felting, rug hooking and all points in between. The staff was awesome and shared with us that they were part of five centers of maker’s guilds in the city. That gave us an objective, so we set out to see them all.
Next up was Open Book. The main floor studios and subfloors are the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, it includes print presses, papermaking and all letter arts studios. The second floor is devoted to literary arts, with a publisher on the uppermost floor. We arrived on a day they were setting up for a party, so displays of work were everywhere. I was in awe.
The Northern Clay Center was a short bus ride away on Franklin. We stumbled upon a studio artist there who gave us an extensive tour of the building. From the library to the potter’s room (over 40 wheels available) to the hand slab room to the kilns. Beautiful brick kilns meant to hold hundreds of pieces at a time, two devoted to Soda Ash, plus all of the various electric kilns available. The center hosts a gallery and studio space for forty professional artists in addition to classroom space for all the amateurs.
The final public center was the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Uptown, a dedicated space for those who do printing of all kinds, this wasn’t letter art printing like you’d find at the Book Arts Center, but art itself. Woodcuts, monotype, lithographs, intaglio, all available here to the pros. Classes were offered here as well.
The final center in the five is the IFP Media Arts studio, designed to help those in the visual arts field, filmmaking, photography and such.
What a great resource for artists, crafters, and makers in a great city. Does your city have a secret like this?  Look around, the education available may be astounding to you.

Art is life.

today's ideaRepetitive actions are a necessary part of any art. The ability to do the same thing one more time. As a crafter/artist, I have daily practice and tasks. To do something well, it requires repeating. Athletes do the same when they train. I’m at summer camp right now and tried my hand at needle felting. I had no idea what it was, but I learned. It has everything to do with repetition. Repeating a learned skill over and over until you get the result you want.

There is a lesson here, repeating a learned skill over and over until you get the result you want and then continuing to repeat can be applied to all aspects of life. To life, to love, to work, to business, to art, to relationships. Isn’t that how we approach our worlds? We find what works and do it repeatedly.

Some spend more time on what doesn’t work, and continue to repeat that, that falls in the “Repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results” category. If it’s not working, fix it! Go ahead and try it one more time, but tweak it, change it, alter it in some way to avoid the same result.

Life imitates art. Repetitive tasks are what make up art, whether spending time writing, or beaning the bible (long story) or needle felting, or ____________(fill in the blank.)Everything requires repetition of small tasks. The same is true of life, to be successful at business, in relationships, in sports, everything requires repetition of small tasks.

My relationship is successful because I repeatedly do the things that make it so. I do small things for my partner, I tell him I love him, I hold his hand, I listen to him. All small tasks done repeatedly to show how much I care. My business is successful because I do a million small tasks repeatedly. I make posters, I respond to emails, I reach out to competitors, I follow through on every little thing (or try to!). I am a product of repetition. As is art, as is life. Repeat the things that make you a success, remember it is the simple act of doing the things again that move you forward, sometimes just inches at a time, but forward progress is still measurable progress. Celebrate the successes, then get back to work repeating the things that brought you that success.

Details on Schedule Changes

Schedule Changes

I love our life and our lifestyle. To bring so many people together on a weekend is an incredible experience. We get to introduce our marketing partners to our drivers; our drivers to our fans; our fans to our marketing partners. It is full circle every event. There are just a few things I don’t love, the biggest right now is working with properties.
Please don’t misunderstand, I love our owners that are invested in their properties, but that doesn’t always mean we get to do what we all want to do. There are civil servants who hold up permits, there are local communities who don’t follow through on their promises, there are just some places that are impossible to get everything rolling, no matter how much time you spend on it.

Here’s what is currently happening in our world. Changes are afoot, pay attention, so we are where you want to be.
Attica, Indiana – July 23 & 24 – this event has been cancelled. The Badlands is an awesome offroad park, we thoroughly enjoy working with Kyle and his crew. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go there, financially or otherwise. We took a vote with our teams at the last event in Rausch Creek and it was decided they would all rather save their travel funds for Grand Nationals in Farmington then spend them to get to Indiana. They’ve already had three events on the east this year, so they aren’t missing out on a similar schedule to what they’ve gotten the last few years.
Goldendale, Washington – August 6 & 7 – this is a go. This community and our partners, Mark and Rody Shilling are great. We are excited to be here. The city helps with advertising and it is a fun event, lots of spectators, lots of good times.

Cortez, Colorado – August 13 – the schedule has changed a little, we will only be driving on Saturday – pre-run and racing on the same day. While this is not ideal, it is happening that way for a couple of reasons. The first is that our perpetual permit that we worked so hard to get a few years ago allows for a single event day, and the county has interpreted that to be that pre-running is an “event” day. So to stick to the usual schedule means we have to go before the county commissioners again, and the risk of not getting a permit is there. The second has to do with insurance, but I’ll explain that later. This event will also be the combined final event for the Mountain and Southwest series – see below for why. Double points for those of you playing that game.
Colorado Springs, Colorado – August 20 – cancelled. Damn it. This is a place we love to race. RAM Offroad has been hosting events for years, before us, it was XRRA, always the same weekend, until 2015. In 2015, the county required our partner, Ray Mandell, to file for a new permit. He has spent lots of time, effort and money for engineering studies, to no avail. The county is still not issuing a permit, this is frustrating for both him and those of us who want to play there. C Springs has always had a ton of fans. So Mountain drivers, it is Cortez for your final event, plan accordingly.

Buzzard Canyon, Oklahoma – CHANGED – to Canyons Offroad Park, Fredericksburg, Texas. Our partner at Buzzard decided that the time of year was wrong for an event, so we looked to our friends in Fredericksburg and asked for the opportunity to come back. The course will be different then when we were there in the spring, and it should be dry, which is a definite improvement! Again, we will be doing all the pre-running and racing on a single day, this time it will be so we can participate in a parade in Fredericksburg – this will be fun!

Farmington, New Mexico – WE ROCK Grand Nationals – September 10 & 11. We have been working with BLM for ten months on our return to Chokecherry Canyon, excited to announce we have our permit! This is a big deal and a ton of work for all, but the permit is in hand. We are starting now to recruit assistance for this big event.

Bridgeport, Texas – Dirt Riot National Rampage – September 17 – so, we are a little concerned because the park is underwater. Last year, through a lot of volunteers and Barco Pump, we were able to pump the water out and in to holding ponds, I’m not sure everyone wants to go to that much work again, so we are keeping our options open. The city tells us that the top section where we usually park has sloughed off behind the pavilion. Our goal is to still be here, but we have our sights set on some nearby alternative sites if we are unable to. They are all close in proximity, so plan the same trip for Nationals.

Now a little bit about insurance, last week, our insurance company made a change for the benefit of our drivers. We are pleased to offer medical coverage for all drivers. We have always had liability coverage for the competitors, but medical for an injury to the competitor was always on you. Going forward, there is coverage for an injury. Of course, this comes with a cost, and no choices – like a typical insurance company. Our insurance costs doubled to provide this, but I think it is a positive. No changes in driver’s cost will occur for the balance of 2016, but plan on a separate insurance charge of $25/event in 2017.

Like I said, it’s a lot of work and my least favorite part of what we do – I won’t even whine about some of things we’ve had to do to pull off the events we have already had this year. Just know that we hate changes as much as you do. Hang with us, we’ll keep working hard and providing you with the best events we can, those of you who commit to be there deserve our best effort, and you’re going to get it!

Bacon extracrispy

A few weeks ago, extracrispy.comextra crispy had an opening for a Bacon Critic, someone to freelance and write about bacon on a daily basis.  Well, hell, who wouldn’t want that job!  Sadly, it appears I didn’t get it.  So I thought I’d share with you, what I shared with them.

Bacon in the morning, bacon in the evening, bacon at suppertime…that’s what my life has become. Each meal is punctuated by bacon in some form. Pure in the morning, crumbled at lunch, wrapped at dinner, to complete the meal, bacon is probably involved. You see, I live with two men, my husband and a man-bear-child who works for us. My role is the feeder, the maker of meals, the one to provide sustenance. If not for me, meals would be delivered in sacks and boxes.
Because I’m so good at making the meals, they defer to me on choosing locations when we go out. There is a cozy little place in the little tourist town of Moab, Utah that I always try to get to. It’s a place we have to hide from our friends because they vocally don’t support our recreational choices, but the bacon is so good, we sneak in anyway. Our Jeep gets parked down the street and around the corner to throw off the suspicions of people who may recognize our ride, and we choose an inside seat instead of the patio so we won’t be seen by those walking by. The Jailhouse is our dirty little secret.

The main course doesn’t matter, order the omelette, the scramble, the ginger pancakes, while good, these are just fillers anyway. The special of the house is the Soul Food Style bacon. It comes on the side only. We ordered three sides of bacon one morning, gorging ourselves on the thick slices fried perfectly, when the waitress returned, we asked her what the secret was.

“Well, it’s made special for us from the most fatty part of the stomach.” She held up her arms and pantomimed slicing her own belly. “It comes from the best part of the cow.” Wait, what?
I smiled, “You mean pig, right?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s what I mean, from the best part of the pig.” And she ambled off, leaving us to wonder and enjoy the last crispy strips.

The heart of it all


(Photo Credit:  Will Oliver at Rocky Mountain Photography)

So many great stories happen on a daily basis in my world, if only we take the time to listen. Yesterday was one of those, I’d like to share them with you. All of the details may not be accurate, but this is what I saw and heard.

Paul and Christie made the trip to Colorado from Tucson, they race in the SuperMod trail class – it was the two of them and their two dogs in a cab-over camper pulling the trailer with the race car on it. During pre-run, something unloaded and pushed the radiator in to the frame causing a leak and consequently, overheating. A rescue mission was mounted and they returned to the pits. Looking at the car, they started taking it apart, a little internet research and Christie went looking for a bicycle tube to check the radiator for leaks. Josh had one that was bad on his mountain bike, so he loaned it out for them to use. A little soapy water and the leaks were identified on the first few fins. This being a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, a plan was mounted. Again, with the help of the internet, they located a welding shop in Denver that opened at 7 on Saturday morning. The race day schedule was a little unusual this time, so it appeared they might have time to get there, get repaired and get back in time for the race. Paul set his alarm for 6 a.m. to make the 50 mile drive. In the morning, as he was jacking the camper off the truck to leave for Christie and the dogs, the driver pitted next to him asked what he was up to. Explaining, Kyle offered his truck to Paul to go to town. Mind you, these two families hadn’t even been introduced yet. Paul hopped in Kyle’s truck and headed out. Meanwhile, Christie stayed to attend the driver’s meeting and keep us posted. A long day later, Paul was back with the radiator repaired, the car put back together and ready to take the start at 5:00. Not halfway in to the first lap, their overheating problems continued. Turns out the thermostat also needed a repair. Bummer for them, but they finished their lap and placed in the race. Christie told me after that they’re adding the thermostat to the list of spare parts they carry with them. Congrats on your never give up attitude, it is inspiring.

Let’s talk about Steve. Steve has been struggling getting his race car together for months. His motor has been at the builder for awhile now, with promises for it to be done, but no delivery date. On Monday, Steve posted about still waiting, a couple of guys offered some assistance, but most of it was out of his budget. Enter his co-driver, Tom, and his blessed wife. Seriously, this girl stepped up and saved the day. Here’s what she did: she approved the purchase of a new motor for her own car and loaned it out for race day! Who does that? Except a saint, knowing what can happen when you least expect it, there was a significant risk involved. The motor arrived at 6:00 on Thursday night. Around the clock effort for two days had pre-running missed, and most of the team on site on Saturday morning. The only thing missing were the driver/co-driver and car – no biggie. Steve’s wife paid his entry fee, expecting him anytime. I was told they should arrive around 2:00, no problem, plenty of time to make the race at 5:00. A little after two, the truck was finally loaded and they were on the road. They arrived in time for the race, signed their waivers, and took a rear start. Both driver and co-driver were a little frazzled so we suggested they take the course slow on the first lap and just learn it, there would be plenty of time to make up ground. They had a good first lap, on the second lap, about 3 miles from the start/finish line, we noticed the hood was up and they were driving fast – both looking around it as it was blocking their view. Pulled in to the pits and the hood was removed. They continued on, another good four laps in as they continued to make their way to the front of the pack. Started tenth, they were in fifth and then the axle broke, took out the transmission, the motor and started a fire. Fire is a great motivator, both bailed from the car, grabbed fire extinguishers and put the fire out. But after two solid days and nights of building a race car, their race was over. It was hard to see the disappointment on their faces knowing that the motor was a loaner as it was, I wished they had filmed the previous two days so we could show everyone the heart of a sportsman. Congrats to Steve and Tom, men in it for the love of the sport. You’ll get ‘em next time!

Paul and Kim are competitors from California. This is their third race of the season, the last two ended in rollovers. One of them a hard roll. So the goal this weekend was to keep it on four wheels. They drove the I-70 over the mountains to get here, some killer passes that slow everyone down, I know, I drove the XJ. They kept having overheating issues on the passes, so the last 200 miles took hours to complete. Since they’d had such a trial getting here, Paul decided that he would enter two classes and get the most of his race time. The first was the Mod Trail, of which his car qualifies. He raced an hour and a half and came out on top. His first, first-place finish. Immediately following was the SuperMod race, another hour and a half. With some struggles and perseverance, they finished on the podium in third. The awards ceremony wasn’t until 9:30, after the final race of the day. After three hours in the car racing, more than anyone else for the day, Paul made the ceremony, sadly, Kim did not. He said he tried to wake her, but she just wasn’t having it. When I was paying Paul for his win, I didn’t realize that this was the first time in a few years he had been on the podium and the first time ever he had won some money! Another testament to never give up!

The last story I want to share is my friend Dustin. Dustin has had quite a bit of success with his racing, but he also works a full time job. He is racing the east Ultra4 series, so made the trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas a few weeks ago and busted up his rig pretty bad, overall, not a great experience. Next week is the Attica, Indiana race, so he leaves on Wednesday. That meant he needed to get the rig back together, needed to pre-race it for next week, and try to get it all done without taking too much time off from work. His brother is his biggest supporter, he said so from the podium. Kendall works hard to get the car prepped. This week, Kendall showed up with the car about 9 in the morning, Dustin had to work. Qualifying was at 11, first to qualify are the ProUTV’s, then the 4400’s. Kendall was all signed in, and prepared to qualify the car, but he was waiting for Dustin. Dustin calls to find out where we are in qualifying, it is after 11. He is flying down the freeway to get here on time. As his car rolls up to the start line, I’m not sure who is in it. I peek in, Dustin is in the driver’s seat, one of the other co-drivers is in the passenger seat. I slide the clipboard through the window net for Dustin to sign his waiver, and he’s off. The qualifying run is good for a fourth place start, which in turn becomes a second place finish. The dedication of these guys to their sport is good for the soul.

I’m always so proud of the men and women that we work with, thanks for showing your friends and families that something worth having is worth working for. Yes, there is hardwork, yes, there is heartache, but in the end, there is a story to tell and a lesson learned. No doubt there were more stories, these are the ones I heard.  I appreciate all of you, every day.


Old_american_flagI love the idea of a TED talk, but I’ve never been invited to their stage, and do you know why…it’s because I am nobody and yet, I am every one of you. I have been young and old, I have been poor and relatively wealthy and middle class, I have been redneck and blue collar and white collar too. I have been single and married and divorced, I have been the minority and the majority. Roles change in our lives, we are never just one thing, we are the cumulative result.

The atrocities committed over the last few years and our reaction to them have me contemplating what is wrong? What has triggered this reckless disregard for human life. And while I’m not smart enough to determine, I know what the one, biggest thing is that I struggle with. It is the divisiveness of my country.

Remember 9/11? Fifteen years ago, 2,996 people died in an act of aggression on American soil. Do you remember how many gays died? Do you remember how many blacks died? Do you remember how many Republicans died? No? Do you know why? Because it didn’t matter, what we know is how many people died. We didn’t classify them, we didn’t automatically say it was a “fill in the blank” community problem, it was an American problem. It didn’t matter their nationality, their color, their religion, their education, their sexual orientation, their politics. What mattered was that it happened here. Do you remember the unity that was America 15 years ago?

I am tired of the labeling, the attack in Orlando was not targeted at the gay community, any more than the bombing at the Boston Marathon targeted the running community. The attack in San Bernardino didn’t target an “office” community, these acts are being perpetrated against all of us. We need to see them for what they are. We need to stop segregating and start seeing people, plain and simple.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and with that,
I pledge to take responsibility for my actions.
I pledge to take responsibility for my health and wellbeing.
I pledge to treat all people within our borders with respect:
regardless of age;
sexual orientation;
or occupation.
I pledge to live and let live.

Towards that end, I ask my government to NOT legislate:
My free will
My actions that harm no one
My decisions on how to earn and spend my money
My decisions on how to live my life.

I will serve and protect my family as my government serves and protects my rights. I will abide by all laws, rules and regulations and exercise my right to worship, vote and bear arms as I see fit, these rights afforded me by the Constitution.

I’m going to STOP being offended, STOP being right, STOP assuming others are out to get me, STOP labeling, STOP judging, STOP taking things personally and STOP being entitled.

I’m going to START respecting others, START serving, START caring, START living, START helping.

I ask my government to stop making new laws, new rules, and new regulations for my protection and simply enforce those already in place efficiently and effectively, and if unable to do that, repeal them so all citizens are treated fairly.

This is my pledge, this is my plea, folks, it’s time to stop separating our communities and work together for the America we all love.

Ode to the XJ

DSC_0124I have a love/hate relationship with the Jeep – well, with all vehicles in general. We own a few, you could call us car poor, but I think of us more as car rich. We have interesting vehicles with interesting lives.

There is the Volvo – not the yuppie kind, the house kind, we refer to it as the Taj Mahauler – it’s a Volvo 770 with a Cummins 500hp engine, it travels around the country acting as our home, the condo and the garage.

We have a 2005 Mini Cooper S that I ordered brand new 10+ years ago, Miss Sally resides in Idaho with a daughter because we don’t have a place to carry her.

We have a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser, a big blue tub that is like riding in a fish tank, there are so many windows, Lola resides in Utah with a son because we don’t have a place to carry her (do you see the theme here?)

And we have the 1992 XJ. No name on this one, because she fills so many roles.

You see, I’ve always been of the belief that cars have a singular purpose, to move you from one place to another. You get in, you turn the key, you go from point A to point B. It wasn’t until the XJ appeared in my life that I recognized that vehicles have so many more uses. In the case of the XJ, a typical week looks like this:
Monday: Load in to the garage and tie down (this is where the Volvo steps in)
Tuesday: Arrive at destination, emerge from garage and take a quick look around; Load dirty laundry and head to nearest town; load clean laundry and find a grocery store – new title of Grocery Getter established; Back to event site with my people, take another look around
Wednesday +: Loaded with stakes, bases, cones and all manner of other materials – back breaking work for the next few days – new title of Motorized Wheelbarrow engaged
Saturday: Competition day – lots of opportunity to use my Warn Winch and my JM Rigging Recovery Rope – I am loaded with competitors and raced to the wreck, over and over again – today’s title is Recovery Rig
Sunday: Clean up day – reloaded with expended Maxxis tape, stakes, cones, etc.
Monday: Load in to garage and tie down – REPEAT

My XJ has so many other roles besides point A to point B, I sometimes don’t recognize all we put her through.

She’s in the shop again this week, not because she’s broken, but because she needs an upgrade, today it’s steering. She’s quite the little harlot, she sleeps overnight in strange shops on a regular basis. She has parts from all the best places, gifts to her to keep her in tip top shape, almost as an escort accepts gifts from the men she pleases. My little XJ gets around.

She started with humble beginnings, a 1992 Jeep Cherokee, originally white in color – we think. Next stop was Off Again Offroad, a shop in Farmington, New Mexico owned by the late, Harold Off. Harold built our girl from the ground up. Steve Nantz at Moab 4×4 Outpost added the signature red bumpers, we bought her in this condition from Grandpa, of Grandpa’s Garage when the 98 Grand we were driving decided she’d had enough.

The first addition were Brown Dog Motor Mounts, installed by Mark Munson at Munson’s Rod Ship in Vernon, Texas when we added rocksliders. Next overnight was Brian and Levi Shirley’s shop in Dodge City, Kansas for some frame stiffeners from Ruffstuff. A quick stop at Blue Torch Fab in Birmingham, Alabama added a custom grill. Then came a month at Fly-N-Hi Offroad in Phoenix, Arizona – a major upgrade was in order, Curry Axles, ARB lockers, an Atlas from Advance Adapter. Crown Automotive sent brakes and boomerang shackles. Parts Mike built the brake assemblies and hubs. The rear springs came from BDS Suspension. Fox Shox were installed, Spidertrax sent the spacers and wheel adapters. Artec provided the battery holders for the dual Optima batteries. Ron Davis fabbed a custom radiator, Sparks Pro Racing build a purple transmission for her.

Externally she got some upgrades too, we won’t mention the green door, but KC Hilites provided lights; American Rock Rods, the hood vents; Roggy Enterprises fabbed the rear corner protection and the skid plate. One Works took care of the roof rack mounts and tire rack. She has Raceline Wheels and Maxxis Tires, a Lowrance from PCI, a Stashkan. The Rock Hard roll cage is the newest addition. The interior isn’t pretty, neither is the exterior but she is rock solid.

The latest additions have been a long-arm kit from Clayton Offroad, a new motor and the installation of a Genright gas tank at FatBoyz Motorsports in Colorado Springs. New ring and pinion from NitroGear (after a little mishap on I-70) and now Rockware is adding the right steering. It may not seem like I appreciate all of these companies and people, but I do, so much.

They make it so I can treat the XJ like all other vehicles, I get in and turn the key and she goes, from Point A to Point B, just like she’s supposed to, it’s not my fault that there is usually a rock or two somewhere between those points.

My ode today is because I’m a little stressed…everything takes longer than I think it should, but having never turned a wrench on this vehicle, what would I know?  Hell, I rarely even put gas in her, I’m hardly at liberty to say what she needs.  So to all of you with a little engine that can…appreciate her and the ease she brings to all the other days of your life, even if she’s not available to you today.