Fond Memories of My 2006 Jeep Wrangler

While sitting on the beach the other day, I had some fond memories of my old 2006 Jeep Wrangler. In Florida, you’re allowed to drive on the beach, and I sat there in my beach chair watching a veritable parade of Jeeps drive by. I wish I had the thing back. It was like part of my family. Jeep Wrangler

When I turned fifty, I lived in the countryside in southern Virginia, and I wanted to do something crazy. So, I decided to buy a Harley Davidson Sportster. When I told my wife and daughters, they all freaked out and forbade me to buy a motorcycle. I would surely die in a horrible crash. Jeep Wrangler

Being a strong-willed and determined man, master of my own destiny, I came home the following week with a 2006 Jeep Wrangler. (In fairness to me, their description of my impending motorcycle crash and flaming death was quite graphic and terrifying. There are also a lot of deer there, and I figured I’d do better one on one with a deer in a Wrangler than on a motorcycle.). Jeep Wrangler 

Jeep Wranglers are lots of fun, going offroad, driving with the top down, doors off, wind in your hair, and bugs in your teeth if you lower the windshield. I learned one thing quickly. The driving with the top down thing is great, but putting the top up and down, not so much. So much clipping and zipping. This Jeep was a soft top, and the first time my wife and I put the top down was a nightmare. I might have invented a few new four-letter words. There’s a lot of steps to lowering the top, and they need to be done in a certain order for things to go gracefully. Jeep Wrangler

There’re the plastic clips that fasten the soft top above the front doors, and the metal hooks that attach the front of the soft top to the windshield. Then there’s the plastic clips that attach the rear of the top to the back door frame and chassis, a metal rod to help with that, and more zippers that hold in the rear and back side windows. That really is a lot of clips and zippers. To their credit, these clips and zippers were well made and substantial on the 2006 Wrangler. The bad news, since they were so well made, they were also stiff and difficult to manipulate. Jeep Wrangler

First time out, my wife and I tried loosening the plastic clips over the front doors first. A big man with strong hands, I could barely get my sausage sized fingers in the space needed to get hold of the clips. I struggled and struggled, both with my bare hands, and then with a screwdriver. I abandoned the tool for fear I would rip the fabric of the top. After an hour of blistering my fingers, fighting, and inventing new curse words, I made a useful discovery. Jeep Wrangler

If one loosened the metal clips that held the top to the windshield first, the front of the top raised up a just a little bit. This allowed my fat fingers more room to argue with those wretched plastic clips over the front doors. Two hours into the project, I finally succeeded in unfastening the top from the frame over the two front doors. My fingers were sore, my blood pressure high, and my pride injured, but I had done it. Then I had to zip out the plastic side windows, zip out the back window, remove more wretched stiff plastic clips from the top where it fastened to the rear door frame and body. Three hours in, we finally were able to fold the top all the way back and rest it on the rear door frame. Jeep Wrangler

Nowhere in my 2006 Jeep manual did it mention that lowering the soft top would require a three-hour battle, followed by a nap. By now it was lunchtime, so we bagged the picnic we had planned and ate lunch on the deck. When we finally headed out for an afternoon drive, my wife asked the reasonable question, “John, what if it rains?” We packed two large umbrellas, because there was no way I would be able to put the top back up before we drowned. I later pointed out that I would not have had to go through all this pain and suffering putting the top up and down with a Harley. My wife and daughters all responded, “Dad, do better.” Jeep Wrangler

Then there was our cat, Sugar. Sugar was a long hair cat that joined our family by way of one of our daughter’s friends. Sugar and our youngest daughter became besties. My relationship with the cat was of a more humbling nature. For example, the time she was in the car port when a large stray dog wandered by. Jeep Wrangler

My not so brilliant idea was to pick up the cat and take her in the house to protect her from the dog. Sugar had something else in mind, to dive under one of our cars to hide. When I picked her up, she proceeded to shred my shirt sleeves, shirt, and the underlying skin. I dropped her, and she immediately dove under the car. This required a box of band aids and lots of topical antibiotic, not to mention going shirt shopping. I learned that Sugar was not, in fact, helpless, and never to pick up a scared cat. Jeep Wrangler

But I digress. The real reason for mentioning Sugar relates to my 2006 Jeep Wrangler, and the joys of owning it. I already described the trials and tribulations of taking the top down. After our first drive, which was a lot of fun on the curvy country roads with a brief trip off road, we returned home, and I put the top up again. Suffice it to say, it was no easier than taking it down, although I did manage it in just under two hours this time. I stood there looking proudly at the Jeep, top up again, all clipped, zipped, and clamped. Jeep Wrangler

I even went into the house to call my wife out to take a look at my amazing accomplishment. When we exited the front door and I pointed to my Wrangler, there lay Sugar. Apparently cats like soft, comfortable spots up high, so they can keep an eye on potential predators and prey. I cringed at the thought of those claws that had shredded my shirt, and skin, and what they might do to the soft top of my new Jeep. Jeep Wrangler

I turned to my wife and said, “Honey, help. Any suggestions as to how I can keep the cat off my Jeep, before she shreds the top?” Jeep Wrangler

My wife just shrugged her shoulders and said, “I guess you should have bought that Harley. I doubt Sugar would have been interested in it. Probably too dangerous to sit on.” Jeep Wrangler

I’m nothing if not persistent. When faced with a problem, I go all out to solve it. That’s what us men do, solve problems, according to my wife even the ones that don’t need solving. But that’s another story. Anyhow, my first plan of attack was ingenious. I would train Sugar not to get on the roof of my Jeep by removing here every time I found here there and telling her “No!”. I did this about a million times over the next two weeks, and she really didn’t seem to get it. It was almost like she was trying to train me to put her on the roof of the Jeep. So, I decided to go to plan B. Jeep Wrangler

My wife’s grandmother used moth balls as a secret remedy for everything, from repelling moths, to mice, to rats, to people. A couple of times we went to visit her, and I found moth balls in my suitcase when I got home. I don’t think grandma like me very much. Anyhow, I bought some moth balls and placed them randomly on the soft top of my Jeep. This would surely repel Sugar. Jeep Wrangler

As it turned out, apparently Sugar liked golf. She appeared to take great joy in swatting those moth balls off the roof and into the car port. At least I felt comforted by the fact that I was repelling moths, mice, rats, and perhaps people from my car port. Those things sure do stink, but then cats eat all kinds of disgusting stuff. So, I guess moth balls didn’t make much of an impression on her. Jeep Wrangler

I was running out of ideas, and I wasn’t about to be bested by a cat (I can’t believe I just wrote that), so I did some research on the internet. I discovered that others with cats had similar problems. Some obscure company had actually invented a device just for this. I found a device that consisted of a large plastic sheet with lots of wiring imbedded in it, all attached to a 9-volt battery. Jeep Wrangler

The directions called for one to lay the plastic sheet over your car soft top and turn on the switch in the box that held the battery. You could effectively electrify the covered area. The cat would step on the plastic sheet, receive a mild but uncomfortable shock, and vacate the premises. What a wonderful invention. Problem solved. Jeep Wrangler

I proudly told my wife of my ingenious solution. Then I took said device into the carport and set it up on the soft top of my Jeep as per the instructions. I turned on the switch and touched the plastic sheet with a wet finger just to test it out. Sure enough I got a mild shock. I felt good, really good. I had outsmarted our cat, and I went to bed that night, confident that my Jeep soft top was now safe and secure. On to the next problem that life tossed my way. Jeep Wrangler

Next morning, I got up, opened the front door to pick up the newspaper, and there sat Sugar, perched happily on the top of my Jeep. I was sad. Not entirely awake, I ventured over to my Jeep to investigate. As it turned out, cats are very sure footed. The plastic sheet did not fit the soft top of the Jeep perfectly, which left a small area in the front that was uncovered. Sugar had somehow managed to tippy toe (can cats do that?) around and plant herself on that small, uncovered spot. For the next week I kept repositioning the electrified plastic sheet all over the soft top, but Sugar always managed to find the one small spot that was left uncovered. Jeep Wrangler

To my credit, I did not trade the Jeep in on a Harley. I finally gave up and accepted the fact that I had purchased a combination Jeep Wrangler and cat perch. The good news, Sugar never did use her claws on the top. The bad news, I spent a lot of time washing cat footprints off the soft top and the top sagged in different places depending on where she decided to perch from week to week. Cat 1, John 0. Jeep Wrangler

 Another fond memory of my 2006 Jeep Wrangler involved the time I decided to teach my fifteen-year-old daughter to drive a stick shift. At that time my Jeep was our only vehicle with a standard transmission. My daughter was thrilled with the idea, my wife not so much. I believed the term “hair-brained idea” was bandied about. Anyhow, I drove the Jeep to the top of our gravel driveway. Keep in mind that we lived in the country, and this was a private road in a small countryside community. The Jeep was aimed towards a heavily wooded area on the other side of the road, with the rear wheels still on gravel. Get the picture? Jeep Wrangler

I turned off the engine, switched seats with my daughter, and explained all the machinations of driving a car with a five-speed-manual transmission. I even remembered to go over the friction point of the clutch, that point where the clutch starts to take hold and move the vehicle forward. My daughter did the usual for a new driver, letting the clutch out all the way without sufficient gas and killing the engine. This particular daughter is very intelligent. Unfortunately, she also inherited my tendency towards impatience. On the fifth try, she decided that the Jeep was going to move forward, and the engine would keep running. She pinned the accelerator to the floor and dropped the clutch, much like one might do on a drag strip. Jeep Wrangler

Fortunately, I was still fairly young and my cardiovascular system healthy. My heart rate and blood pressure soared as we sat there, aimed at the woods, the rear tires spinning violently in the gravel. I learned just how strong a Jeep Wrangler transmission really is. And thank God, I instructed her to depress the clutch and let off the accelerator before the tires gained purchase on the road. We did not, in fact, go rocketing into the woods. I was grateful that this particular Jeep had washable seats. Bad things can happen when one’s body thinks it’s going to die. Jeep Wrangler

 My daughter’s response was, “Wow Dad, that was cool. Let’s do it again, only let’s actually go somewhere this time.” Jeep Wrangler

My daughter was surprisingly calm, while it took me a good ten minutes to stop shaking. We sat and talked, and I went over things one more time. The good news, she finally got the thing about the friction point, and we eventually had a nice, slow drive around the neighborhood. By end of the day, she was driving on a nearby country road, shifting gears, and doing a great job of it. So, all’s well that ends well, although I still have flashbacks of my 2006 Jeep Wrangler crashing through those thick woods and into a tree. Good times. Jeep Wrangler

I have lots of other memories of that 2006 Jeep Wrangler. Like the 15-20 mpg (not great) and the fact that in 4WD Low the thing would climb up a telephone pole. Not a lot of need for this, but it was nice to know we could do it. When we first got the car, the used tires that came with it were not particularly well balanced, and my wife and I learned a thing or two about Jeep wobble, like how it can put you in the ditch. I bought new tires and resolved that issue. Jeep Wrangler

Also, I like to go fast, but I soon learned that a Jeep Wrangler does not corner quite like a Porsche Cayman, more like a Mack truck. My wife had to keep reminding me of this. Every time we approached a curve, she would grab onto the “oh-my-God-bar”, hang on for dear life, and scream, a sure signal I needed to slow down. Jeep Wrangler

There was also very little storage space in the thing. You could either leave the rear seat in and take the kids, or remove the seat, carry stuff, and leave the kids with a babysitter. Finally, we only took the vehicle out on the interstate once with the top down. We discovered that flying down the highway, top down, between two tractor trailers provided more thrills than we wanted. And hitting a pothole with that thing was a tooth jarring experience, the chassis being stiffened for rock climbing rather than Grand Pris racing. Jeep Wrangler

Overall, I really enjoyed my 2006 Jeep Wrangler, in spite of these few somewhat irritating memories. Off-roading was a blast, and we had a nearby fire trail on a mountain that was especially fun and exciting to navigate. The thing was also great in snow, and the heater was quite capable of keeping one warm inside the soft top, even at temperatures well below freezing. Jeep Wrangler

I did have difficulty with the rain though. The Jeep Wrangler is part-time 4WD. The 4WD is not to be used on dry pavement because the wheels all go the same speed and are locked together. This is a problem when you go around a corner and the outside wheels are trying to go faster. It was never entirely clear to me when it was okay to use the part-time 4WD in the rain…so I saved it for heavy rain only where the road would be slippery. It really didn’t matter all that much anyhow. Most of the time when it rained and we had the top down, we’d try to find an overpass to hide under until the rain stopped. We’d have most surely drowned by the time I managed to put the top up. Jeep Wrangler

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