Last week I hopped off the Oklahoma panhandle into Grenville, New Mexico. After a tight right-left on Grenville’s Lake Road, the tarmac fell away into immense, scrub-filled valleys rimmed by rock spires and elevated mesas. Pushing into Colorado from the southeast, elevation and high-plains beauty come quickly. It’s like driving through the imaginary Arcadias on bottled water labels, or one of those 5,000-piece puzzle sets that grandparents and aunts devote months and bottles of gin to.
I’m shacked up in Dove Creek’s surprisingly quaint Country Inn because rain. Here are some notes from the road.
For lack of time and space, I only mentioned the Jeep Collection in Suwanee, Georgia in passing last week. Once more: if you’re a fan of Jeeps and you get to the Atlanta metro area, I highly recommend a visit — and look at the pictures at the bottom of this article. The 2018 Wrangler Rubicon I’m driving now sports Willys icons on the gear shift lever, windshield, and wheels, and when you turn the rig on, a graphic in the dash cluster morphs from a Willys into a JL Wrangler. Jeep insists on carrying the torch of its origins, so I found it edifying to sit in all four of those origins at the Jeep Collection. I can tell you this: the Americans who fought WWII were a lot smaller than we are.
Two-door Wranglers have an 18.5-gallon tank, four-door Unlimited models get a 21.5-gallon tank. The EPA rating: 18 city, 23 highway, 20 combined. I took possession with 9,016 miles. I’ve stopped at Shell 31 times to pour in about 440 gallons of regular unleaded to drive 7,243 miles. Including the full tank that came with the Jeep, the math registers a 16.5-mpg average. I have no complaints, since that takes into account a few hundred pounds of stowage, doing 65 to 80 miles per hour during highway stints, and lots of low- and high-speed spells in 4H.
The Jeep wave is a real thing. I’d read about it, but hadn’t prepared for it — it doesn’t exist in L.A. I believe the first waves started in North Carolina, but that might only be where I began to notice them. Ferrari drivers wave at one another, but there aren’t that many Ferraris on the road.
The Jeep family does more than wave. When I stopped beside a rural Arkansas road for a break, a Grand Cherokee passed me and pulled over. A woman hopped out and came my way, asking, “You all right?” I said yes. “You sure?” I said yes again. Her name was Sundi, she’s a member of the Seven Slots Jeep Club of Arkansas, and she was lovely. She said she stops for every Jeep that’s pulled over — “It’s the Jeeper code.”