Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Jeep with No Jitters - Well, Not Many

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Jeep with No Jitters - Well, Not Many

Article excerpt

When my husband and I bought a cabin in the mountains of Colorado, we bought a used Jeep as well, the latter a necessity for getting up and down the primitive road to our summer retreat.

The road terrified me. Whenever I looked out the car window, my stomach plunged. The mountain vista I loved from our cabin made me dizzy from the road. A little too much gas, I theorized, and we'd sail right over the mountain. A slight miscalculation and we'd drop a wheel in one of the 18-inch-deep ruts that ran the length of the road.

I'd never handled a Jeep, so I was glad in the beginning to let my husband do the driving. But when he returned to work in the Midwest, leaving me in Colorado for the rest of the summer to host a round of family visits and enjoy the intermittent solitude of the writing life, I was forced to deal with the Jeep. I had to be able to drive the road myself.

The day before he left, my husband explained the gears and showed me how to shift into four-wheel drive. Then we took to the road. I piloted the Jeep at the record-breaking speed of 5 m.p.h.; he calmly coached me past the treacherous rocks and sudden holes that made the trip an ordeal. I kept my eyes on the road ahead and prayed we wouldn't meet anyone coming the other way. An hour later, we were still alive.

Then I made a solo trip up and down the hill. It took me half an hour to cover half a mile. "You'll be driving like a pro in a week," my husband said when I finished. I didn't tell him my legs had been shaking the whole way or that the steering wheel had practically changed shape under my grip.

In the morning, I rode to the airport with him. He caught a plane to Indiana, and a few hours later, I met my mother's plane.

"I didn't know you'd bought a Jeep," she said.

I mumbled something about needing a recreational vehicle in the mountains. "Impossible roads, you know."

We had lunch at a pleasant restaurant in town, but I couldn't finish my meal. The last bites stuck in my throat.

WHEN we left the restaurant, Mother and I were 60 miles from the cabin. For the first 59 miles, no one could have guessed I was nervous. I pointed out landmarks and extolled the virtues of country living as if I had not a care in the world. …

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