Jeeps are social creatures in that they tend to be found in groups. If you happened to drive down A1A in Daytona Beach, Fla., the last week of April this year, you saw them in mega-sized herds. Being out there amongst so many other Jeep enthusiasts really got me thinking about why Jeeps are so much more than transportation.
More than a mere vehicle, Jeeps are like a membership card to a very special club. They not only make a statement outwardly about your enthusiasm for venturing down the path less taken, ownership also changes one’s own behavior. As a Jeep owner, we don’t just drive it to and from where we need to be, we purposely go looking for new and remote places we really need to be. “Have Jeep, will wander,” you could say.
My Jeep Is Calling
This desire to not just drive but explore is nurtured by the Jeep itself. It whispers, “Take me on an adventure” every time you start the engine. It develops its own personality over time, and because of this, Jeep owners have a habit of naming their Jeeps. Giving them a name makes them the core member of your adventure team. It’s a member of your family, not just another vehicle in your driveway.
As a family member, you trust your Jeep to get you out into the greater unknown places on Earth and to get you back home again at the end of the day. Regardless of how many Jeeps have been produced, no two remain alike as each is customized and modified.
As you and your friends and family pile into the Jeep each weekend to go out and explore new trails, you start planning your time off around trips to places to explore. Your spouse starts to buy you Jeep-related gifts for Christmas and birthdays. In short order, owning a Jeep transforms from something you bought into something you do — and you don’t do it alone. You do it with your family!
Jeepin’ is a way of life. We’ve all heard that saying, and we all know how true it is. The spirit of adventure, exploration, conquering difficult challenges, and recovering from disappointing failures is not only a reflection of the American spirit, it’s a reflection of the human spirit that moves through all of us and brings us together for enormous events.
Nuts and Bolts
Craig Simons is a member of the Ocala (Fla.) Jeep Crew and proud owner of “Black Widow,” a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. He believes Jeepin’ builds communities and families through off-road adventure, events and club membership.
But the most influential gathering of likeminded individuals (and their loved ones) is the Jeep club. Some are organized like traditional clubs of other hobbies and interests within a specific geographic area, and others are just an informal association of fellow Jeep enthusiasts that want to celebrate Jeep culture together. Those are the Jeep Crews we see popping up all over the world, often made possible by social media, and it is wonderful!
A Daughter’s Love
I know that, in my own personal experience, Jeep life was always part of my spirit. I didn’t own a Jeep until my mid-40s, but I’ve always taken any vehicle I’ve ever owned off-road, whether it was meant to do so or not. I just wanted to get off the beaten path and make my own trail.
A few years ago, I tried to get the family into the outdoor adventure sport of ATVs and UTVs. My oldest daughter has special needs and was not impressed. She did not like the rough ride as we went bouncing down the trails in my side-by-side. I was heartbroken. My dream of building family memories off-road seemed to be doomed.
Then I traded my pickup truck for a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. To my delight, my daughter loves Jeepin’! My youngest daughter then bought her very own new Wrangler JK, and now our family’s love for adventure and exploration into the wilderness just keeps growing, much like the membership numbers of our very own Ocala Jeep Crew.
We have met so many amazing people through Jeepin’ and have made so many new friends. I’m a computer systems engineer by profession, so as you probably correctly assumed, I’m quite introverted. Meeting new people is not my strong suit, but after being shackled to my office computer all week, I need to unplug and recharge my soul batteries.
Jeepin’ does that for me. It does that for my whole family. It’s pushed me out of my dark computer lab and out into the forest to adventure with new friends I never would have met on my own. I never thought a vehicle could change my life in such a profound way. Jeepin’ is family!