Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lessons learned from a jeep

Gather around, kids. Your Aunt Julianna wants to tell you a little story about an adventure. So, let's start at the beginning....

Once upon a time, when I was a wee little kid, my dad used to get this suicidal look in his eye and he'd say, "Let's go for a drive up the canyon." In the innocence of my youth, I would say, "OKAY!" Then, he and my mom would load all six of us kids into the camper and take off on a drive up the mountain. (Just so you have an image in your mind, this is kind of what the camper looked like. Sorta. Ours was older, more "ghetto-ish," and more rickety.)

For the next several hours, I would suffer panic attacks as we drove up steep mountain trails located directly over precariously high cliffs. It didn't help that you could feel the camper swaying back and forth in the wind. It also didn't help that if you looked out the windows you could peer over the giant cliffs. Nope. That stuff didn't help at all.

Anyway, the point is that I have an itsy bitsy fear of falling off a cliff in a car. (I'm not the only one in the family who has that fear, isn't that right, Mel?)

Fast forward to the present day. A few of my friends and I wanted to go up the canyon and make a fire. Sounds fun, right? Well, not fun enough for my friend Griff. He wanted to take his parents' brand new jeep up the canyon for a drive.

Maybe I should have taken warning from the suicidal look in his eye, but I didn't. Instead, I said, "OKAY!!" And off we went. (Mind you, by the time we took off, it was already dark outside. That should have been another warning that it was not a good idea to go jeeping....)

We drove up to beautiful Silver Lake--

Of course, it didn't look like this to us because it was pitch black! Oh well. We started to get out of the jeep to decide where to build the fire, but then Griff said, "Let's keep going." What? "Yeah, let's go all the way up the mountain. We're in a jeep!"

So, we got back in the jeep and started driving up a tiny and incredibly rocky trail. I mean, not even my dad would have attempted this one. But, we were in a jeep, as Griff kept reminding us. So, we're invincible, right? Psht...

About halfway up the mountain, some people in our group started feeling sick, so we turned around to head back. Very carefully, Griff inched his way back down the mountain. Things were going very smoothly until we came across a particularly tricky spot. The trail veered sharply to the right, directly along the edge of the mountain. Griff backed up the jeep ever so slightly and started to turn, but unfortunately we didn't have enough room and the front of the jeep started to slide off the mountain.

(Imagine a dramatic flashback to all those past traumatic mountain drives of yester-year.)

Griff slammed on the breaks and we all carefully filed out of the jeep, which started to tip when the weight was displaced. So, we hopped on the back, ready to jump off if things went sour and the car slipped off the cliff. Griff tried to back up, but the tires were spinning, unable to get any traction in the thick dust.

Now, oddly enough, as I sat there inhaling dust and car fumes, I couldn't help but see the humor in the situation. I don't know why. Maybe I just laugh when I get into precarious situations. I just wasn't as afraid as I thought I should be.

To make a long story shorter, we all said a prayer for help, and immediately we knew what to do to get the jeep out of the mess. We put some sticks and cloth under the tire to give it some traction, and we were good to go.

So, kids, want to know the moral of the story? 1) Prayer really works. 2) You can always find humor in any situation. 3) If someone gets that suicidal look in his eye and suggests a nice drive up the canyon in a jeep, perhaps you should suggest a different activity.


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