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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HOM: Wagoneered

A year or so after Jerry left, I bought a white 1973 Jeep Wagoneer from Dick Peters of Peters' Cars, which did business way out in the Deer Park area on what was then Highway 2 east. I kept the Datsun, but I decided less cargo space but four wheel drive and more power was a better way to go for me a lot of the time. One reason I sprang for the 4x4 was my driveway. In the wintertime drifts were often as high as the hood or higher. Driving the Datsun meant being snowed in and waddling through two hundred yards of snow to get to the road to hitch a ride until I could afford to hire a neighbor to plow me out. Driving the Wagoneer sometimes meant taking an hour to go the same two hundred yards, but it sure beat the alternative. ----- We used the Jeep on one or two gun show trips, and as with all the trips, the details are badly blurred, but a few things stuck in my mind. ----- We'd gotten a late start out of SLC and it was after dark when we got on the isolated road between Zion & Mount Carmel and came up on a broken down car. The driver flagged us down, but being a little cautious I went on by, stopped, dug out a handgun, u-turned and went back, and then stopped well short of the scene so the headlights would show what was going on. It was a legitimate breakdown, a middle-aged guy in a suit and his wife. The alternator in their car had gone out and the battery was dead, so they were stranded. We'd passed a ranch or compound off the road a ways back so I went back to see if I could get help for the stranded couple, but the place seemed to be empty. And spooky. I left Lyn in the car, armed, and stuck another gun in my pocket when I walked up to the door, and was quite relieved to get back in the rig and get out of there when no one answered my knock. Excessive caution? I don't think so. That Polygamous country down there has a lot of folks who are quite openly hostile to strangers, probably for good reason. Anyway, we went back and jumped his car from the Jeep till the battery seemed fully charged, then he turned on his parking lights (so I could make sure he was keeping up) and followed me till his car went dead again. We repeated that process twice, then I told him to get ahead of me and I'd stay behind him and try to position the jeep so that he could see the road in my headlights. I was glad I wasn't in the Datsun. He decided to hurry and it was all I could do to keep up with him, even with that big V-8 under the hood of the Wagoneer. He obviously had a lot of guts and a fair amount of skill. Or a lack of brains and a lot of luck . . . Anyway, there was no traffic so we flew into Mount Carmel, where I left him parked at a motel. He thanked me and offered to pay, but I told him to just pass the favor on to the next guy that needed it. ----- My turn for trouble in the Wagoneer came later, a few miles out of Glen Canyon City where the Hoodenpyles lived. I heard a strange and loud sound under the hood so I stopped to take a look at the engine. When I opened the hood, a fan blade skinned by my nose on its way to the stratosphere: the water pump assembly was disintegrating. It was dark, but I didn't even try to take a second look. I slammed the hood and limped my way into GCC with an eye on the temperature gauge. We made it into Bob's place, where he & I replaced the pump the next day in his shop. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)