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September 22, 2013

4WD - Low Range

I got back from Central America and climed in bed, pulled the covers over my head, and went to sleep for 6 weeks. I have the ambition of a cat.

In September, the hummingbirds left, the grasses went to seed, and the bears came and ripped down the bird feeders to gorge themselves on black oil sunflower seeds for before the snows of winter. And then the rains came, flooding the canyons, and shattering the rainfall records.

I'm afraid of the bears, and things that go bump in the night. They're loud, and they wake me up when they crash into the picture windows to strip down the feeders from the overhang. I cower in my bed, a loaded WWI U.S. Army M1911 Colt .45 in the nightstand. A single nudge from my thumb sends the reciever crashing forward, loading a round into the chamber, and it's ready to fire.

In the night, I had a bad dream. Dreamed that I was working two projects, and got released from both projects at about the same time, meaning I was out of work.

In a panic, I woke up, relieved to be unemployed and lounging around in bed at 10:30 a.m. Surfing the internet, eating bags of halloween candy and sipping diet cokes. The paranoid housewifes are always waffling about how bad everything is for you. Sodas. Candy. Genetically modified foods, but they're wrong. So wrong. If it was that bad for you, I wouldn't be alive.

The maid comes and starts cleaning up, and I lay in bed, surfing the internet as she cleans around me. Robin says I should leave while the maid cleans, but I'm like..."Why? It's my house. I pay her to clean it. Why should I have to get out of bed?"

Finally, she throws me out of bed to wash my sheets. And now I'm pouting, making coffee, watching her race through the house, a miracle of ambition and energy. I feel like I could drift into a coma. I wonder if anyone's ever fallen asleep and gone into a coma because they were just to lazy to be alive?

Jennifer comes up and drives the two of us around in the Tahoe to inspect some areas washed out by the Colorado floods. We play a game called "Bridge Inspector", where we vote on whether the drive-way bridges over Bear Creek are safe to cross. They get voted either "Good" or "Badbadbadbad."

Bridge-Inspector is just an excuse to get some time behind the wheel before her Jeep arrives, a 4wd 6-cylinder 5-speed Sahara.

Last year, on Spring Break, she fell in love with the Jeep we rented as we rolled across Oahu with the top down.

This year, on Spring Break, she learned how to drive a Jeep with a stick shift in Cozumel. Mexico is a brilliant place to learn to drive, because there are no laws, really. Once you get past the military checkpoint of soldiers brandishing FAL's at the airport, you can pretty much do anything you want.

What she wanted to do was learn to drive a stick. And she learned. Upshift. Downshift. To start off on a hill with only two feet to somehow manage three pedals all at once.

At school, she's the only girl in her grade that knows how to drive a stick. The other girls just balk. Jaws dropping.

"I tried to drive a stick shift," one girl offers. "But I couldn't make it go. How'd you learn to drive a stick?"

"My dad taught me," she replies, "when we were in Mexico."

"Your dad taught you to drive a stick shift in Mexico?"


"I've never even been on a plane. I've never seen the ocean. Do you have a car?"

"I'm getting a Jeep."

"Your dad bought you a Jeep?"



"Because I got straight A's last year."

"You got straight A's?"

"Yeah. He said he'd get me a Jeep if I got straight A's, so I got straight A's."

"Where is your Jeep? Is it here at school? Can I see it?"

"No. They're shipping it here from Illinois."

"Why? Aren't there Jeeps in Colorado?"

"Yeah, but I wanted a green one, so we're having it shipped from out of state."

My neighbors warned me against getting Jennifer a Jeep. "It's too dangerous," they crow. "Aren't you worried she's going to flip over and die?" they chant.

"No. We're all going to die. I'm worried we're not going to live."

Her grandmother said the same thing, harping on me about how dangerous a Jeep is.

I'm like..."The CFO of Amazon just got killed on a bicycle and no one talks about how dangerous bicycles are. Let it go."

We're rolling past million dollar houses with all of their furniture in the driveway. Backhoes, front-end-loaders, trucks, all sorts of gear trying to repair the damage from the flood.

We end up on a dirt road and I tell her to put into into 4wd, just for practice, really. And she's like "What's the difference between 4WD Low Range and 4WD High Range?"

And I'm like...seriously? Like...how have I not taught her that? Like...suddenly I'm useful to someone, somehow. So I teach her to stop, put it in neutral, and shift into 4 wheel low. A lound clunk is the clue that it's now in 4 wheel low.

"You hear that?"

She nods, innocently.

And then later, into 4 wheel high, so she can see the difference in speed between Low Range and High Range.

I let her drive onto the pavement in Four Wheel High so she can feel how the truck acts on pavement in 4WD. Hear the whining of the gears and the axles and transfer case.

Listen for that sound. You have to learn what it sounds like to be in 4WD on the pavement so you'll recognize if it ever happens by accident.

"You hear that? Feel how it's kind of shaking a little? That's what it feels like when you're in 4WD on the pavement. You can only use 4WD when you're off-road. If you're on pavement, and it's in 4WD, it will ruin the drivetrain. Got it?"

She nods as we pass a woman painting an oil painting on the side of the road, "en plein air".

"Pull over here...take it out of 4WD...I'm going to go take a photo of this woman painting. Do you know why that woman is painting on an easel on the side of the road back there?" I ask Jennifer.


"Because we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth...the Colorado Rockies."

Jennifer puts the Tahoe into neutral and shifts into 2WD with a loud "CLUNK".

"When will my Jeep be here daddy?"

"I dunno, baby. Is it out of 4WD? Let's go home."

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 22, 2013 at 2:39 AM


Not this Grandmama, for I think a Jeep is just the ticket. So proud!

Posted by: G on September 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM

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