Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man's Jeep Has Traveled the World; at 340,000 Miles, He's Giving It to Ripley's Believe It or Not

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man's Jeep Has Traveled the World; at 340,000 Miles, He's Giving It to Ripley's Believe It or Not

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

Fernando Sola's 1988 Jeep Cherokee can't speak, but its dense coat of bumper stickers tells the story of its missions through the Americas, from the frozen tundra in northern Alaska to a penguin colony at the southern tip of Argentina.

The Jeep rode the Dalton Highway, a desolate, 400-mile gravel road from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Prudhoe Bay at the tip of the Arctic Ocean.

It has motored past a sleek Jaguar in South Miami Beach, where fashionably dressed diners pointed at it and shouted, "Wow, look at that!"

It got stuck in a Mexican desert after a torrential rainfall in an area known as the Zone of Silence, where people claim there are unusual magnetic properties and extraterrestrial activities.

Now, at 340,000 miles, the Jeep is retiring to a Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. Sola plans to donate it Monday.

In 1998, the Atlantic Beach resident, who is a manager at Al's Pizza, drove the Jeep 55,000 miles from New Jersey to Canada and Alaska, then south along the Pacific Coast to Mexico and across the mountains and jungles of Central and South America.

Transformed by the daily exposure to starving children living on the streets, Sola formed the nonprofit Happy Faces Foundation and made a similar trip in 2004, delivering clothes and toys to the orphans and drawing media attention to their plight.

"It's unacceptable that children 6 and 7 years old have to live on the streets," Sola said last week. "There shouldn't be children living on the streets anywhere in the world."

Although the Jeep is still running, it's leaking oil and faces expensive repairs. Sola couldn't stand the thought of it going to a junk yard, so he called Ripley's headquarters in Orlando.

Ripley's is excited about acquiring Sola's Jeep, said Edward Meyer, vice president of exhibits and archives at Ripley's Believe It or Not in Orlando. The organization also believes in Sola's mission and appreciates that he is donating the Jeep, not selling it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.