Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stress Relief

What an insane week this has been!  Actually, the last three weeks have been very difficult for me.  I have a lot of things on my plate right now, and the stress level makes it feel like finals week in my college calculus class!

Needless to say, I was overdo for some relaxation in the mountains, away from kids, and away from everything career-related, economy related, or every other worry that has come up in the last month or so.  Saturday morning began with me packing the Jeep full of guns and ammo.  Then my wife and I headed over to Shari's to meet up with a few friends for an adults only breakfast.  No kids allowed!  We almost didn't know how to act.  Without children to occupy our time, cleaning up spilled beverages, or watching helplessly as they toss macaroni and cheese on the floor, we just sat for a few minutes in awe at the silence at our table.  Then the discussions began.

It turns out that my buddy and wife (my good friend for the last decade or so) are taking my lead and want to get a Jeep Cherokee.  Since I'm a fountain of facts, research, and some small connections, I was able to provide some much needed information for him to digest while he hunts down the perfect vehicle for him and his family.

Since my other buddy is a motor head, like me, the conversation naturally goes toward what sort of modifications I intend to make, how bad ass I want to make my Jeep look, and how I intend to use it.  All my friends sat in stunned silence for a moment when I announced that I am going to take a less-is-more approach to the Jeep.  Aside from a budget boost lift, to clear 30" tires and some new bumpers, not a whole lot is going to happen.  I want to keep it stock, for the most part.  I went on to explain that if my Ramcharger taught me anything, it's that I'm sick of chasing drive train problems associated with lifting a vehicle sky high and expecting it to have good road manners.

Four-wheeling just isn't what it used to be to me.  As each year goes by, I feel myself wanting to go off road less and less.  I stick to the well-maintained fire roads these days; I have for the last 5 years.  Driving around a highly modified off road vehicle on gravel fire roads doesn't seem to make sense to me anymore.  I'll admit that it looks cool, but more and more, I look at the things I do, the vehicles I buy, and the money I invest into what gives me the most value.  In fact, even lifting this Jeep 1.5" is a stretch.  The only reason I'm going to do so is because I don't like tires smaller than 30" on an SUV.  I still have my dignity after all.  The small lift and tires will serve to simply make the Jeep sit with the proper stance, as I see it.  And nobody, except maybe XJ fanatics will be the wiser.

This doesn't mean that I will be giving up wrenching.  No, I still enjoy that a great deal.  This time, however, the focus will be more on judicious modifications and enhancements with a more conservative approach.  While this Jeep is considered "mine" in this family, my wife will still need complete access to it, and since it has car seats installed, more emphasis will be on safety and reliability over supreme off-road capability, which I believe I covered already.  Look, if it can get me to the campsite and back, or to the grocery store in the snow, then it is doing the job I need it to do.  If it can make it to the remote shooting pit that only I know, then it is doing it's job.  If it can tow a small trailer and make a dump run, then it is doing its job.  We chose a Jeep because we like it.  We also chose it because I know that much of the work that can be done to it can be done without fabrication and is reversible.

That being said, I'm going to create a new tab on top of this blog page dedicated just to the Jeep.  In the past, I have posted "build threads" on the forums I visit, but I want to be able to do a sort of "build/Jeep journal" independent of forums, group think, and other people hijacking threads, and starting wars over which spark plugs to use.

I think I have digressed a bit.  Getting back on track, we took my buddy K to the woods and took turns blowing away paper targets, my steel target, clay pigeons and beer cans.  Lindsay had her first opportunity to shoot the SR-556 and she liked it.  She asked me if I wanted to hang anymore crap from the end of the barrel, to which I told her I'd like a bottle opener.

Most of the late morning and early afternoon were taken up with pistol shooting, working on marksmanship, breaking in Lindsay's Walther P22, giving the M9A1 a run, and getting in some much needed SR9c practice.  It was such a relaxed mood all morning.  As we all took turns shooting, reloading, shooting, reloading, shooting, resetting targets, and the fun banter, we took a few opportunities to break out the camera and get some amazing photographs.

After we were done, we packed it all up and headed home.  Since K and I live in opposite directions from Hwy 410, we shook hands and thanked each other for the great time, and headed home.  The ride home, of course, was completely uneventful.  Hearing the sound of wind noise, the hum of the engine, and nothing but quiet coming from the back seats was strange indeed.  We are used to kids back there making noises and talking to the cars as they pass us by.  I don't drive like I used to.  I've pretty much given up on trying to speed.  Tickets are expensive and the stress of tailgating a slow poke isn't worth it.  The irony is now that I drive the speed limit everywhere I go, others have an opportunity to stress out behind me.  It's comical to watch the drivers behind me pull their hair out of their heads while they swerve left and right looking for that opportunity to pass me.  I can't help but laugh as these idiots throw up gestures as they pass me by.  It's tantamount to watching my 2 year old daughter scream and cry on the floor because I won't let her pull all the toilet paper off the roll.  I understand why those slow pokes used to laugh and point at me when I would zoom by waving my middle finger in their direction.  The funny thing is that when those maniac drivers pass me by really fast, they end up right in front of me and get stopped at the same red light I do.  It's even better when I change lanes at the intersection and end up in front of them again.  All that road rage for what?

Today is glorious.  I know I should be outside instead of on my computer typing a blog, but I started it earlier and my mind won't stop until I finish it. Plus, I spent some time this morning making these pictures look fabulous in Photoshop, so I wanted to get them online.  After pictures, it was eggs, sausage and waffles for the family; I'm not a bad cook either.  Then it was outside to clean up the Jeep and get her shiny.  Buffed out some surface scratches that she came with, and that I made yesterday while driving around in the woods.  Then it was off for a 25 mile drive north to Ikea to get some much needed stuff.  The Jeep got 18.35 mpg yesterday with a combination of city, highway, and trail riding.  Not bad for an eleven year old SUV with 131,000 miles on the clock.

And just like that, my wife comes in and asks me when I'm going to fire up the grill.  Oh yeah, it's a grilling kind of day.  See ya later.

-James

1 comment:

  1. You are one of the awesomest dads ever - great blog! You have excellent writing skills, and, more importantly, you write about two things I truly enjoy: family and firearms. I enjoy your opinions on the Jeep, also. I've been wanting a 4wd pickup with a short camper shell or a jeep in order to go places such as the White Rim Trail (near Moab, UT) as well as exploring the mountains wherever I may be - I found your opinions most insightful.

    Regarding AR15's and their "tacticool" status: you are certainly correct, it's like when we were in high school and you had to have Nike Air sneakers and Levis (tight-rolled) before the cool kids would even consider not insulting you. Show up in a pair of Rustler jeans and they set upon you like a pack of wolves. Unless my gun is endangering those around me by being poorly manufactured or maintained, please don't tell me it's junk.

    I enjoy lever action rifles, bolt action rifles, revolvers, and break-barrel or pump shotguns - precisely because it's what the cool gun geeks aren't carrying (with the exception of the Judge). Interesting fact: Rossi makes a 45/70 model 1895 (called the Rio Grande) with a top and optional side tactical rail. Since it's the guide gun it's around the same size as a home defender 12 gauge with a full stock. 100 yards of dead on accuracy, more if you practice a lot.

    Did you happen to make it to the big NRA convention in St. Louis? If you have never had a chance to hit an NRA convention I strongly advise it - but expect to take two or three days to see everything!

    Again, your posts are awesome, I look forward to reading them.

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